Lipton Rides Instagram's Positive Mood

Photo-App-BThere is a big difference between a brand being on mobile and a brand “getting” mobile. By that I mean that typically marketers follow the users wherever they go, stake their claim to every emerging platform, and “establish a presence” there to intercept users. I think it is more rare for brands to truly understand why the user has embraced this emerging platform in the first place and offer content that actually reflects the spirit, mood and temper of the place.

The Lipton tea brand seems to “get” Instagram in its new “Liptagram” photo contest. The program invites users to submit “uplifting moments” via the image-sharing platform to one of four hashtagged themes over the next four weeks: #LiptonBrightness, #LiptonExcitement, #LiptonUplifting, #LiptonSpontaneous. The grand prize winner gets a trip to Lipton’s Rain Forest Alliance certified tea estates.



This is a simple, clear use of the mobile app that shows an unusually sensitive understanding of why image-based social nets like Instagram and Pinterest have so quickly grabbed users. They target our better angels. My daughter put this succinctly to me months ago when announcing why she, like many of her young adult friends, were tiring of Facebook. “It is too nasty,” she complained. Misunderstandings, flame wars, and drive-by commenting get tedious.

You don't see too many fights break out on Instagram and Pinterest. Sure, some people post snarky comments, and I have seen a few rude text signs and headline bombs. But on the whole, these are networks that by their very visual nature tend to invite the sharing of stuff that touches and inspires us.

Lipton seems to get that. In its announcement, Alfie Vivian, VP, Refreshments, Unilever, says: “There are so many sentiments in an image. Whether it exudes excitement, spontaneity or brightness, images can capture a positive moment and inspire you to feel the same way."

But the emergence of self-expression tools like Instagram and now Vine also underscores how much mobile is not just more, smaller, more portable “media” as we have known it. It is not just the next hot place to be and be seen. It also taps intimate new and different modes of use.

I bang this drum a lot lately, largely because I think it is a theme that is deep and unplayed enough for endless riffing. The unprecedented intimacy of these truly personal devices taps into moods and modes of use, sentiments and tones that the century of media before it did not address from its silos (prime-time living room, office desktop, drive time, morning newspaper reading). It allows us to access sentiments -- perhaps even very immediate and personal psychological needs -- that were not as accessible or even visible in the past.

It takes a deft hand to get beyond targeting media and instead think about targeting moods.  

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