When Content Sends You Running…for Cover

Most companies have multiple personas that they try to speak to through their messaging. Personas are the audience archetypes of consumer/buyer groups that companies try to develop specific content around in a way that speaks to each group about their unique set of interests. For example, when creating a video for a new toy hitting the market, we might use children in a demonstration video showing them having fun with the toy. We would encourage the children to speak unscripted and naturally to other children using age-appropriate language and tone. But we might also know that moms are the chief decision makers of the household and are the real ones making the toy-buying decisions. In a case like this we may complement the video with long-form articles about the educational benefits of the toy in the tone and style of an objective consumer report and link to the information on the video.

Challenges (and opportunities) arise for all when you have one primary social channel speaking to multiple personas. Choosing to publish one truly engaging, thought-provoking piece for one group might threaten to disengage or even alienate another group. Careful consideration as to the pros and cons of a risk taking content strategy has to be made at the editorial calendar stage and plans have to be made in advance for dealing with negative reactions.

Case in point: When a luxury CPG stroller brand like Bugaboo sees itself as a trendsetter whose products help redefine how their customers see themselves, they have to be very careful about alienating their base audience. Bugaboo recently published a photo to Instagram of the Dutch model, Ymre Stiekema, pushing her child in a one of their new jogger strollers:



Bugaboo might believe they are sending the perfect message to the persona group of moms who fit in their “Challenger Moms – Active & Uncompromising” group, because to them this image is shocking and potentially motivational.

But after posting the image, Bugaboo’s other core persona group, “Traditional Affluent Moms,” had a very strong reaction:

“Ahh Yes, I always go running in my bikini … Not! #solame.” reacted one commenter.

Another just said, “This is an Awful Post.”

Yet another commented, “You should be supporting new mums not portraying unrealistic body images.”

My take: I like the post and feel the risk was well worth the reward. Here’s why:  Bugaboo’s Instagram page is filled with more authentic and fashion forward photos speaking to traditional moms. They stay true to their core audience on a regular basis with images like these:


Taking a calculated risk, like shooting a bikini-clad supermodel mom jogging with one of their strollers, may have made their marketing execs very uncomfortable. The effort might have also initially offended some of their core audience. But Bugaboo had a transparent reason for what they were doing and was prepared. They immediately posted supporting information about the context of the photo – part of a Vogue fashion shoot – and linked to an interview of the model – a real bugaboo customer – who claims to work out exactly as depicted.

Because of the brand’s planning and well-timed response, many more followers of the page came to the support of the model and the brand:

“Loosen up people, it’s a Vogue photo shoot,” said one supporter.

“Are people seriously complaining about this? Awesome runner mother still runs awesomely with a stroller,” added another.

“Dannnnnggggg!!!! If I had that body I would never put clothes on!!!” mentioned a mom who was truly inspired.

Here is why I believe the tide of consumer sentiment turned so rapidly in favor of the brand’s utilization of what many would consider to be out-dated ad strategy for social media: using beautiful, sexy, athletic people in a clearly staged photo shoot to sell goods.

1. the model is a real mom.

2. the model is a genuine product user.

3. The image depicts her doing a representation of an actual workout – while modeling clothing for a fashion magazine shoot.

4. This new information made the effort authentic, realistic, and ultimately a positive mind-shift on the traditional perception of “moms” in association with the brand.

The true art of great content marketing is to be original, take calculated risks, and prepared to engage even when it is looking like it might be a rough road. Your primary job as a social marketer should be to envision, enable, and participate in a real conversations with your target audience through great original content preferably about subjects that make us uncomfortable, think differently,  and most importantly: see an old notion in a new light.

No matter how dry your industry is or how potentially boring the subject matter you have to work with, always look to deliver an “ah-ha” moment for your audience. They will appreciate, remember, and ultimately share the revelation you foster.

What do you think? Was the Bikini-Model-Mom effort well-coordinated, too risky, or did they just luck out when their audience came to their defense?