Clare Werbeloff: the last word

Clare Werbeloff is just a 19-year-old kid from the Northern Beaches of Sydney with a loud mouth who’s watched too much Fat Pizza. She ran in front of a camera and mouthed off what she has copied from TV ethnic slang without thinking about the implications for others – like the person who was shot and his family.

Here’s Channel 9’s response to the whole incident, explaining what their contract cameraman did and his experience and attitude to Werbeloff.

And here’s the final ACA interview with Werbeloff, (direct to ACA site) where the implications of what has happened start to sink in for her. Talk back radio (like blogging commentary and twitter) can be an amazing measure of the zeitgeist of public opinion. You get a feeling that speaking to so many angry people had an impact on the previously oblivious young girl.

However, regardless of the specifics of this incident (it is now clear none of this was related to a marketing campaign), what disturbs me is that most punters probably don’t care whether they were duped or not. Werbeloff had many supporters and ‘fans’. Has the average media viewer become so use to fake news stories through people ‘punking the news’ or the media itself creating hyperbole or artificial events, that (a) it has become a great game to guess what is real, or (b) no-one cares anymore – news IS entertainment.

For marketers and brand custodians, however, this bizarre, artificial media environment can only last for a short time historically and can only ever be a short-term marketing communications strategy for those that pursue it.

Creating brand-value – establishing communication between users and giving them a reason to recommend your brand DOES NOT START WITH A LIE. Even one that goes massively viral super fast. Further, the more people get sick of being duped (and it’s happening NOW) the more they will attached ‘negative’ value to any brand that involves themselves in any dubious, cloaked, faked, viral, social media campaigns.

For a look at some of the excellent ‘spoof’ videos of Clare that are already out, mUmBRELLA has a selection here.

We now know that the Kings Cross Bogan had nothing to do with a marketing stunt (though, congrats to Tooheys for investing in that OOH poster for the 6beers of separation campaign, who’d have known!!) – advertisers, however, will now be chasing that viral magic that saw Werbeloff and Susan Boyle go balistic over the past few weeks and try to create ‘a story’ that will take their campaigns to space.  Nothing wrong with great, honest, engaging stories, of course – so it will interesting to see what viral plays come out over the next few weeks as agencies push the envelope.

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Clare and another social media disaster

Here we go again. As the facts start to leak out, people are hypothesizing as to where the scam involving Clare, Heidi, I mean, Clare, began – and who else was involved. Channel 9? Specialist agency, The Projects? Just herself?

Duncan Riley summarises the events here and asks some questions about how the video came to be on YouTube in the first place, instead of staying with Nine. I won’t bother uploading the original footage because you’ve probably already seen it – if you haven’t, here it is on one of mUmBRELLA’s early posts on the subject, where Tim Burrowes makes an important assertion when the first rumours of fakery started surfacing, suggesting that Clare may well be legitimate saying, “I think we are witnessing a legacy of the Naked / Witchery Man furore of earlier this year.”

Unfortunately for the advertising and media industries, social media set and readers of all things online and off, this was another set-up. How contrived and orchestrasted by the corporate sector it was, is still to come out. The two places to watch are, A Current Affair this Monday night (they have apparently secured an interview with 19-year-old, Clare), and Media Watch, later the same night.

[Update] – Clare Werbeloff is just a 19-year-old kid from the Northern Beaches of Sydney with a loud mouth who’s watched too much Fat Pizza. She ran in front of a camera and mouthed off what she has copied from TV ethnic slang without thinking about the implications for others, like the person who was shot.

Here’s Channel 9’s response to the whole incident, explaining what their contract cameraman did and his experience and attitude to Clare.

Regardless of the specifics of this incident, what disturbs me is that most punters probably don’t care whether they were duped or not. Has the average media viewer become so use to fake news stories through people ‘punking the news’ or the media itself creating hyperbole or artificial events, that (a) it has become a great game to guess what is real, or (b) no-one cares anymore – news IS entertainment.

For marketers and brand custodians, however, this bizarre, artificial media environment can only last for a short time historically and can only ever be a short-term marketing communications strategy for those that pursue it.

Creating brand-value – establishing communication between users and giving them a reason to recommend your brand DOES NOT START WITH A LIE. Even one that goes massively viral super fast. Further, the more people get sick of being duped (and it’s happening NOW) the more they will attached ‘negative’ value to any brand that involves themselves in any dubious, cloaked, faked, viral, social media campaigns.

For a look at some of the excellent ‘spoof’ videos of Clare that are already out, mUmBRELLA has a selection here.

We now know that the Kings Cross Bogan had nothing to do with a marketing stunt (congrats to Tooheys for investing in that OOH poster) – advertisers, however, will now be chasing that viral magic that saw Werbeloff and Susan Boyle go balistic over the past few weeks and try to create ‘a story’ that will take their campaigns to space.  Nothing wrong with great, honest, engaging stories, of course – so it will interesting to see what viral plays come out over the next few weeks as agencies push the envelope.

Using Twitter for better PR

Twitter is a simple tool that people have learnt to use in a host of wondrous ways. Using Twitter for PR has become an important way businesses interact with this social media technology.

Twitter can be used to generate knowledge as a PR professional, or it can be used to execute campaigns. Here are some examples.

Generate Knowledge about PR: Goto http://search.twitter.com/ and search for #PRadvice or #PR – this will launch you into the stream of Twitterphiles talking about PR related issues, giving advice, commenting on good, bad and ugly PR campaigns, sharing links to PR blogs, campaigns and sites. It is an excellent way of being thrust deeply into the PR world.

Execute PR Campaigns: The social media and online world is a tricky and dangerous world to operate in. Here is a top ten list of PR do’s and don’ts on Twitter, and some campaigns to remember (ie: AVOID the FAIL) are Witchery’s Girl with the Jacket (not Twitter), The Starbucks Twitter FAIL – and the MARS Skittles campaign that throws up a numbers of questions for future campaign strategists to answer.

And note this post, ‘Twitter now mainstream enough to be basis for lame PR campaigns’ from Silicon Valley Insider.

Viral jacket fake stripped Naked

Well, as they should be, Seven’s Sunrise team seemed annoyed at being duped by Naked and their fake Cinderella jacket girl viral video that they ran as a news story on Monday morning. Sunrise had Tim Burrowes on this morning explaining why it really wasn’t a very smart way to promote a brand. Naked came out defending themselves yesterday against claims their faked video for clothing brand Witchery was deceptive. Adam Ferrier, Naked’s planning partner claimed, “The word deception implies an element of harm. This campaign hasn’t harmed anyone, not even close”.

Well, creating false news that is circulated virally or otherwise,  especially with the intention of having it end up on prime-time media, and then denying  involvement seems like deception to me. It also paints our profession in a bad light.

An interesting discussion took place on Adam Ferrier’s own blog between Ferrier and Stephen Collins of Acidlabs, where Ferrier has tried to justify Naked’s actions. He asks, “Who in social media understands consumer behaviour”, and goes on to say,

“I think people with a history in social media who want careers in marketing and communications should get educated in the broader aspects of human behaviour and marketing. Please. Some of the comments people are making in this space are at best naive.”

Consumer behaviour is not the nub of the issue for most commentators. The discussion has not been about whether people will fall for false information and buy products. The concerns are focused on the falsification of the information in the first place. Is this what Ferrier means when he councils people to get “get educated in the broader aspects of … marketing”. Is he suggesting that as marketers we have become delinquent deceivers, and that people don’t care anymore – that they like it?

Does the marketing machine feel justified pumping out anything to the public under the guise of “tease and reveal communications” as Ferrier called it in B&T, or “light entertainment”, a phrase Warren Brown from BMF used when asked to comment yesterday?  Brown did go on to say that, “if you deliberately deceive the public, it’ll only bite you in the bum“. And there’s the rub, the ROO. Ultimately, Naked feel they will be judged by how many people buy Witchery Man jackets, or say they know about Witchery selling men’s clothes. However, as I said in my last post on this subject, creating a fantasy or fiction that viewers happily buy into is one thing, but misleading them is quite another. The slap-back from any loss of trust is reduced sales and diminished brand value. Check out the mixed (mainly negative) feedback from the market at the end of this news.com.au piece. What’s the multiple on negative/positive comments when evaluating social media campaigns?

The late, great David Ogilvy once said, “The customer is not a moron. She is your wife”. Regardless of who the customer is nowadays, when they watch the news they don’t want to be fooled by a deceptive ad for a jacket.

The jacket team came clean yesterday publishing another YouTube video exposing the truth as news of the fakery quickly broke across the web before they had a chance to continue the series with a rumoured follow-up from the “man in the jacket” himself.

For a more complete run-down of the www’s reaction to the event see mUmBRELLA’s coverage here.

2008 – The Year in Publishing

Here’s our summary of major stories from the Australian publishing industry for 2009.

JanuaryThe Bulletin, Australia’s longest running magazine, publishes its final issue. Private equity companies take a look at independent publishers. Helen Kingsmill resigns from the Magazine Publishers Association.

February – Pac Mags’ online digital magazine Red Zero folds. Reed Elsevier announce that their B2B publishing arm, Reed Business Information is for sale.

Check out MediaBizNet.com.au for the rest of the story.

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How will the future of publishing look?

I was thinking more about the future of monetising media content, both through current online products and soon-to-be mobile devices. There’s been a lot of talk in the publishing industry recently about specialist and niche titles being forced to look for subscription revenue as they are finding it harder to compete in the retail market with larger consumer magazine titles.

These specialist magazines are forced off the newsstands by agents modeling themselves after FMCG retailers  that maximise return per square metre and charge for prime retail positions. Chasing subscriptions and subscription revenue seems the obvious route to take.

But consumers are chasing content from many sources, increasingly it is free, backed by advertising. They are developing deep and sophisticated relationships with digital devices that deliver information to their fingertips whenever they want it, B2B and consumer – mobile charges will be the major barrier to consumption. What benefit are consumers gaining from magazines, nowadays? This is the question magazine publishers should ask themselves. Portability? Quality of reading format? The nostalgic feel of paper?

I don’t believe it will be long before electronic paper – truly flexible, full colour, electronic paper as being  trialled by Fujitsu and Philips – deployed in a next-generation Kindle-type device, will turn the business models of the publishing market upside down. A flexible, large-format, mobile device that is web-connected, drives down the value of subscriptions as access to quality content moves towards Free.

If the only reason you are gaining revenue from subscriptions is because of the magazine format, then the lifespan of this revenue source is coming to an end. Charging for high-end, quality content is already being challenged: Business Spectator (free) vs Financial Review (subscription).

What content would I pay for? Important timely business information that I don’t want influenced in any way by advertising. And these types of subscription businesses are continuing to perform strongly in the face of free online information. Some examples are legal, accounting, some financial information.

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Can online advertising survive the GFC?

Two major reports have come out recently delivering positive feedback for the online advertising market.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Frost & Sullivan have forecast that the online advertising industry will see revenues continue to increase as advertisers turn to cost effective strategies as marketing budgets tighten and a media buyers place a rigorous focus on ROI.

Figures from the IAB’s latest Online Advertising Expenditure Report by Pricewaterhouseshow that online advertising had experienced 30% growth, year-on-year, with a total spend of $450 million in the third quarter of this year. Of course, this growth is expected to soften during the fourth quarter as the full impact of the global economic meltdown comes into play.

Of the online advertising categories, Search and Directories advertising experienced the largest growth from the prior quarter, growing at $25.0m or 13.4%. General Display advertising also performed well, growing $11m or 9.6% from the previous quarter. Online Classifieds, however, experienced minimal growth, with an increase of $2.75m or 2.5% from the previous quarter. This must be shaking a few business who are seeing the Classified advertisement that existed online transform into various forms of Search advertising.

Australia’s total online advertising market revenues have been forecasted to increase by 24 per cent year-on-year in 2008, growing from $387 million to $481.4 million, by Frost & Sullivan.

Darryl Nelson, Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Manager, Digital Media, Asia Pacific, said:

The online general advertising market continues to enjoy solid growth and is not only well-placed to weather the current slowdown in overall media budgets but is set to benefit from its increasing cost-effectiveness in tight economic conditions.

Advertisers continue to see the increased lead generation and sales coming from the online channel, but are also now looking online to get more bang for their brand marketing buck. The current tightening of marketing budgets overall strengthens their commitment to their digital strategies.

Download IAB PWC September 08 Online Advertising Report

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