The Crimson Brand Studio

CASE STUDY

CONSUMER RETAIL

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SUMMARY

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ObjectiveWrite an effective sponsored content article for national retailers that will be promoted through Facebook campaigns.

Research suggests that national retailers struggle to connect with clients from around the country due to negative brand image and the growing effects of e-commerce in the national economy. Our sponsored content article will take advantage of The Crimson’s credibility among its readership to repair client brand image among readers while also focusing on promoting the ideas of convenience, selection, and cost-effectiveness. 

Consumer retail is a very broad sector and each company faces distinct challenges. Therefore, we will analyze three representative industries: (1) food/drink, (2) national retailers with dorm essentials (e.g. Target, Walmart, BBB, etc.), and (3) travel.

CHALLENGES

Food/Drink

  1. Environmental concerns. Food and beverage companies face growing consumer pressure to address environmental problems such as sustainable agriculture and food production, transportation emissions, and the use of plastic packaging.

  2. Rising interest in personal wellbeing challenges the dominance of corporate, processed brands in supermarkets around the country. 

  3. High prices. Food and beverage companies are also faced with increased pressure to make their products more affordable to a greater portion of the population. 

National Retailers

  1. Rise of e-commerce. Companies are struggling to compete with cheaper prices of online shopping, which is seen as more convenient too.

  2. Time-consuming. This negative connotation has caused traditional retailers to lose the business of younger generations, who look for efficiency in shopping - e.g. fast fashion.

  3. Wholesale vs. retail. Brands are increasingly selling products directly to consumers rather than through retailers. This limits the value of national retailers who primarily sell other companies’ products. 

Travel

  1. Negative branding. Travel companies are seen as having high prices and low quality of air travel. Customer service is a weakness for travel companies. 

  2. Necessity. People who don’t like to fly won't like the product. Success of the company is driven by necessity, not product. 

  3. International law. For example, travel companies have been especially hard-hit by the economic ramifications of COVID-19. Moreover, researchers have forecasted that the travel and tourism industry could experience a 34.7% decrease in revenue compared to 2019.

Food/Drink

  1. Eco-friendly. Studies have shown that younger generations are more willing to buy from companies that are environmentally responsible. The article will convey the actions that the client is taking to become that.

  2. Healthy. Research shows that the health and wellness trend will continue, so the article can also convey the ways in which it has shifted its focus towards offering more healthy food/drinks.

  3. Affordability. Offering more affordable products has two positive effects: first, it helps foster a better and more caring brand image, and second, it helps increase a company’s revenues from the lower-income customers. Thus, the company needs to show how its products are much more affordable in relation to its competitors.

INSIGHTS

National Retailers

  1. Convenience. Consumers want a seamless experience: they should be able to easily find, test, and purchase products. The article will subtly infuse the fact that consumers can actually see, feel, and test products before purchasing when shopping in-person, which is not possible online. 

  2. One-stop shop. The Harvard Crimson’s readership is overwhelmingly composed of people under 30. This demographic is extremely busy, so the article will capitalize on the client's ability to be a “one-stop-shop” and help save time.

  3. Variety. Studies have shown that consumers like to have access to a large variety of products when they are doing their shopping. The article will showcase the fact that the client's stores contain many different products and brands in order to compete with brands that are selling directly to consumers.

Travel

  1. Upbeat narratives. To address negative brand image, The Crimson will utilize our credibility to present a positive image of the company. By drawing on personal narratives and creating a fun, upbeat article, the negative brand image can be surpassed. 

  2. Destination. Research shows that an overwhelming number of people dislike flying. Therefore, we will focus on the destination of a journey to show that flying is worth it in the end.

  3. Responding to COVID. Just like the travel industry, college students are especially hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, the article will be written through the lens of making up for time lost during the crisis. This article will encourage students, when the world economy reopens, to choose the client when traveling after the crisis.

The following sections will use national retailers as an example for how we approach creating sponsored content that is tailored to the unique problems of different industries. 

PROFILE

The client

Strives to reach the entire population, but due to recent trends, the client has struggled to reach younger customers who are more tech-savvy and therefore inclined to choose online stores. 

Traditional brick-and-mortar store that is trustworthy and offers great in-person experiences, but it is also not as convenient as online shopping.

Effectively conveying the competitive advantages of the client in relation to consumer conveniences. Expanding their revenue streams from younger demographics.

Demographic

Brand

Success

The Crimson

Our audience: overwhelmingly composed of college students, Gen-Zers, and millennials, who have a lot of new-house furnishing and dorm needs during concentrated times like Move In Day.

Highly respected newspaper. As it is run by some top students at a top college, The Crimson is also a very trustworthy source of academic news and advice. 

Help the client reach a drifting demographic and write an article primarily for college student Move In Day with dorm essentials to be promoted at the end of summer vacation.

VALUE PROP: Founded in 1873, The Crimson is the nation’s oldest continuously published college publication. With The Crimson’s newsprint on a hiatus, readers are now turning their attention entirely to our online presence, connecting with us on our website, social media, and the daily newsletter. With 2 million page views monthly and an impressive social media following, advertising through The Crimson is a great way to introduce your brand to our diverse audience. Our Facebook campaign + sponsored content package is rising in popularity because it attracts higher levels of reader interest than conventional advertising.

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8x cheaper cost per click than traditional advertisements

70% of people learn about companies through sponsored content vs. banner ads

4x higher average CTR than traditional display ads in the U.S.

WHY SPONCON?

DESIGN TOOLBOX

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1. Color Palette

 

The article's main color will be white but will use red and blue for accenting.

 

Many firms that are recruiting for internships and new full-time positions have red and blue logos. In business branding, red is attention-grabbing and is associated with warmth and power. Blue is authoritative and secure, associating with confidence, loyalty, and trustworthiness. 

2. Recurring Elements

 

We will be using angled shapes as recurring design elements. Studies have shown that using angles in design results in a judgment of the company’s services as more professional and durable.

Modern styling reflects how the firms with an old-school/traditional image (e.g. consulting, banks) have new goals in mind and are striving to help the world move forward. 

3. Photographs

 

We will be using photographs as opposed to illustrations as our visuals.

 

We are marketing the stories of past interns and customers to demonstrate the positive effects students can have on the world, so we want to show photos of smiling beneficiaries and the Harvard intern on the project to make the experience relatable and show how not everything is about the money. These photos are not the main focus though so they are edited into the recurring design element.

SOLUTION

As current students, we know that college students, and especially Harvard students, want to have experiences that have already been proven to be fulfilling and beneficial. Thus, one of the ways in which we can most effectively convey the benefits of working at the client’s firm is by highlighting the experiences of student interns and/or alumni. Thus, this article will spotlight the work that a student and/or graduate - preferably a Harvard student/graduate - did while interning and/or working full-time with the client.

 

Given the importance of real student-based experiences in engaging the best candidates, our article will have 5 different student testimonials in which the students detail the work that they did during their time at the client’s firm. Furthermore, these 5 testimonials will be based upon work that was done across 5 different industries in order to most effectively engage a diverse array of candidates. Moreover, the student testimonials will also convey the way in which the students’ work with the client’s firm was fun, rewarding, and contributing to a greater cause.

The article series will be structured as follows:

  1. Introduce the client, what it does, and its mission towards helping a greater cause

  2. Introduce an interactive list of five issues that Harvard interns have impacted

    • "What issue do you care about the most?"

    • Button each of the five issues that when clicked, takes the reader to a quick article with the following format:

      • Introduce a case study that a Harvard student has contributed to crafting the solution

      • Elaborate on the greater impact that the work of the client had on the world and generalize to include the skills an intern can learn on the job

  3. ​Recruiting information/call to action

    • Additional statistics that would entice people to apply

      • Diversity statistics

      • School/extracurricular statistics

    • Timeline of recruiting events and deadlines for applications, interviews, boot camps, etc. linked to the company’s recruitment webpage
       

The purpose of these paragraphs is to help convey an image of the client caring for the world and the people in a range of industries to entice students pursuing non-traditional majors to see what difference they can make working for the client. Because we are trying to get applicants, we will also include recruiting timeline information and a link to the application site through a button labeled, "How will you change the world?".

An example visual mockup with sample narrative text is below:

​** The sample text is based on a fictional company; we would have our narrative based on an actual case study, employee, and statistics using the information we get from the client.

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COMPANY X Sponsored Series | Story 1: Journalism

Continuing a Family's Legacy
CONSULTING & JOURNALISM
JANE DOE
HARVARD '21

As an intern at one of the top consulting firms in the country, Jane Doe, Harvard '21, went into the summer with the expectation of being at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy. As a History and Literature concentrator, Jane didn’t know what to expect from the consulting experience. She had spoken to her family about her interest in branching out and exploring new opportunities, so she applied the prior fall. To her surprise, she was accepted. 

Jane realized on the first day that the experience would be entirely different from her expectations: she would be an active part of a consulting team. In her first week, Jane was assigned to work with a team of analysts made up of an experienced manager, two tenured associates, two new analysts.  

 

Over the summer Jane’s team worked on the News Company Y case. Company Y is a family-owned newspaper company that was finding it difficult to monetize its services in an increasingly digitized world. Jane explains, “The first step was conducting industry research. The main point of the industry is that traditionally, journalism companies have profited most from subscriptions to print my services in from print advertising, but with the Internet becoming easier to access each day, these revenue streams are quickly disappearing. I didn’t realize that this is such a big issue in media and journalism.” 

With this research in hand, the team realized that most of Company Y's readers don't read many articles every month and were unwilling to pay the flat monthly subscription fee that national papers charge. In the process of brainstorming solutions, although Jane was new to consulting, she took the initiative and drew up a new system of pay-per-view news articles for Company Y’s subscribers in which subscribers pay only 5 cents for every article that they read. The team worked to implement Jane’s solution into a proposal to send to Company Y. 

When asked about her experience, she answered, “it was eye-opening and intensive. I came in really worried that no one would really listen to my thoughts, but I’m so glad that I was wrong. I was immediately included in the most important conversations and was able to make a difference in an industry that I really cared about. The team members took the time to train me and they trusted my work.”

The case team believed in providing an immersive experience for the interns, so over the course of the case, Jane personally conducted interviews, presented research, and made recommendations at the table with the rest of the team. Today, two years later, Company Y’s business is booming, nearing an increase of half a million dollars in profit from before the crisis. 

2021 Summer Associate applications must be submitted before June 1, 2020 before 11:59pm EDT. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

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The Crimson Brand Studio

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The Harvard Crimson

University daily since 1873

Address: 14 Plympton St,. Cambridge MA, 02138

Email: thecrimsonbrandstudio@thecrimson.com

Phone: (617)-576-6600 ext. 202

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