JBL Cross-Social Campaign Centers on #CordFail


Mike O’Brien

Audio electronics brand JBL is promoting its wireless headphones by having consumers share their corded headphones mishaps, also known as #CordFail, on Twitter and Vine.

Snagging your headphones on a dumbbell at the gym, accidentally choking your dog, dragging your laptop off your desk because you forgot they were plugged in – these are all examples of what audio electronics brand JBL would classify as a #CordFail. The expression, meant to denote an annoying and/or embarrassing headphones snafu, is the focus of the company’s new cross-social campaign.

Through December 3, consumers can tweet their most epic experiences with #CordFail to JBL. One hundred people will win a pair of JBL wireless headphones, while the person with the best (worst) entry will win his or her choice of JBL Epic Experiences in 2015: The NBA All-Star Game, Coachella, or the Grammy Awards. The winning entry will be announced via Vine, when the winner will see his or her #CordFail acted out by Vine celebrity Logan Paul, who will be sharing tweet-based Vines with his 5.6 million followers throughout the campaign.

The loop count on Paul’s first two Vines is more than 11.7 million. In the two weeks since the campaign launched, JBL has amassed 2,200 new Twitter followers and received 2,000 entries. In all, #CordFail has generated more than 6.4 million impressions and 678,000 social engagements, such as likes, shares, and retweets.

“At the end of the day, we sell products to customers, but we do want to be a relevant and culturally breakthrough brand,” says Dave Spinato, global director of digital and social media at Harman International, JBL’s parent company. “Social is a great way to do that; that’s why you have to try these platforms.”

#CordFail was originally intended to be a set of commercials for the brand’s wireless headphones; the cross-social aspect was born from the TV spot’s storyboards.

“We wanted to find the platform that works best for our brand,” Spinato says, on the choice to use Twitter and Vine. “If you look at our product line – it’s not just headphones, we have a lot of stereo equipment that needs to be set up, and what better way [than Vine] to show people how to set up a surround sound in six seconds?”

For Roger Katz, chief executive (CEO) of social engagement platform Friend2Friend, JBL was smart to partner with Paul, who is also sharing his Vines on his other networks, such as Instagram and Snapchat.

“[Having Paul] reenact several of the more interesting and creative stories, and to use that upfront, communicates the essence of the campaign and puts people in the right mindset when thinking about their submissions,” Katz says.

Though Katz thinks the campaign page is a little heavy – “the [user-generated] content would have been nice to keep above the fold on desktop” – he doesn’t think that’s going to detract from its success.

“The prizing is wonderfully aligned with the campaign, which is not always the case,” he says. “One hundred runners-up prizes makes entrants feel much more confident that their submissions may be a winner.”