A critique of a digital media strategy- #RefreshinglyHonest

They’re many commendable digital media strategies and campaigns out there. One that particularly impressed me was the #RefreshinglyHonest campaign implemented by the American company, Honest Tea, in 2012. Through critiquing the digital media strategy of this campaign, I will unravel how such an approach to a digital strategy, stands as an integral part for determining success of an overall integrated campaign.


For any successful organisation, it is understood that all tactics within a digital media strategy should combine to achieve overall objectives. Honest Tea’s digital campaign achieved this with flying colours! The purpose and business objective for their #RefreshinglyHonest campaign was to widen awareness of their brand and get new customers to try their products. The communication objective to achieve this was: to clearly portray their ethical company values of honesty and responsibility by ‘spreading organic’ in to communities, and to also humanise the brand by touching emotion and morales across society. Having a clear digital media strategy generated desired results which exceeded the campaign goal of 125,000 actions around #RefreshinglyHonest content on social media – 322,115 actions were taken around 500 posts which reached 17.2 million people.

So, here’s a breakdown of what was done and why it worked…

1. They combined physical with digital: Honest Tea set it upon themselves to create a social experiment which aimed to find out who’s as honest as them. They set up pop up shops around the US to test who would actually pay for one of their beverages if no one was watching, and who would take the chance of a freebie. From the survey Honest Tea officially created The National Honesty index, with it’s very own website. As the survey gained traction, people were encouraged to show their daily ‘#Refreshinglyhonest moments’ through social media.This was effective in initially reaching wider audience sectors (who were maybe less digitally aware) and taking them to Honest Tea’s digital and social platforms through the campaign. This strengthened their on line following as a result.

2.They humanised their brand: Incorporating a social experiment stimulated peoples attention and emotion as they could see that their participation had a real purpose. Giving people the opportunity to influence the outcome of the survey  made them feel empowered and generated brand advocacy for an authentic brand. Human behaviour and survey results were well presented on the website and across social media which enhanced the digital consumer experience. Various techniques, such as infographics, were used to make factual and visual content easily accessible to on line audiences.

3.The content across digital media was engaging: The digital media strategy made participation and information easily accessible by having multiple activation points for audiences to feel a part of the campaign. The focus on User Generated Content made the campaign interactive. This also promoted loyalty to the brand as an online ‘Honest Tea community’ was created as people used the power of image and a circulated hashtag (#RefreshinglyHonest) to publish their own honest messages across Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. The strategy also used local influencers to portray their honesty and the use of Honest Tea products to further engage their audience.

4. They made evergreen content: Creating The National Honesty Index ensures high amounts of attention will be dedicated towards the brand annually, not just in the initial campaign launch year. This increases the longevity of the campaign and therefore status of the brand has increased (it’s likely this will continue as Honest Tea become the most respected in their market). By presenting the results of the survey in various ways on line and encouraging User Generated Content, the content is of an organic nature. Therefore the campaign and on line content will be recycled which will improve SEO and  drive traffic towards the Honest Tea website and social media accounts. As a result both the on line and offline status of the brand will blossom.

Honest Tea’s digital media approach was intelligent to say the least. A varied set of focused digital techniques were used to consistently communicate a powerful message. And the impact of this was heightened by stimulating engagement and participation, unifying a brand community as a result. One improvement I would make for future campaigns Honest Tea implement about the The National Honesty Index, is to modernise their approach – use User Generated Content in the form of video and live stream from physical events to engage on line audiences.

image: https://vimeo.com/19019947

video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOljVqM3hgDazSnKW9eWb0Q


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