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.

ABC use Twitter to join the conversation

Here’s a quick example of how a major organisation can use social media to connect with people simply, directly and honestly: Mark Scott, Managing Director of Australia’s public broadcaster regularly communicates with ‘followers’ through Twitter. A few minutes ago, he send this out:

abcmarkscott Amazing wild weather pics sent in by ABC listeners . Nana Glen shot an artwork. http://bit.ly/2h0yIW #nswstorm

Direct communication with the head of the firm using Twitter.

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.

New Year brings social media hoaxes

Happy New Year and welcome back to BDM for 2009. The advertising world has certainly hit the social media space in Australia with a quick one-two  that has everyone talking about how faking it can damage your brand, and can certainly damage the reputation of social media as a channel for those only mildly acquainted with it.

Tourism Queensland had one of their agency people pretend to get a tattoo and do a YouTube video, pitching to be a young hopeful competing for the ‘job of a lifetime’, while Naked hired an actor (now come on guys wasn’t that obvious) to pretend to be an inverse Cinderella looking for the owner of a lost jacket.

Claims by Tourism Queensland that the whole scam was about demonstrating ideas for the type of entries they wanted is a poor excuse for deception and I’m sure the team is now thinking the midnight six-hat session might have gone a bit too far. Best left on the white board, really. For an excellent backgrounder on tattooed Tourism and bitter fallout have a look at Tim Burrowes stories at mUmBRELLA here and here.

As for Naked and The Jacket Fiasco, I sat down to my cereal in front of Sunrise (OK, so there’s an admission) on Monday morning to see the YouTube video complete with comments by Mel and her gang about how it seemed like a set up. Was getting it onto Sunrise and making us watch it the set up? Were the Sunrise team saying it was a set up so they didn’t look stupid when it all came out that it was a set up? As they say in the classics, advertising a bad idea will just make everyone know about it faster. Put on some sunglasses before you hit play…

Perhaps the Naked strategy team could have called on the expertise of Julian Cole from sister agency, The Population, who has repeatedly warned against faking social media messages and advises full disclosure. Last time I looked, Naked’s CEO Matt Baxter was a non-executive director of The Population. Creating a fictional space and story which the viewer enjoys and the agency can extend the brand into is often dangerously close to just faking information that irritates your customers – that’s why there is a new skill set developing around social media marketing.

On that note, congratulations to social media consultant Stephen Collins of Acid Labs for his blog rocketing to No. 4 on the Top 129 Marketing Blogs. Servant of Chaos stays at No. 2 and Adspace-Pioneers, custodian of the list, has moved to No. 7. Beyond Digital Media has moved up a few spots to No. 68. Top of the list is creative site Bannerblog.

What else does 2009 have in store for us? As marketing budgets contract and social media starts to look like a cheap alternative to traditional advertising, exponents need to remember mistakes have already been made in this field – plenty. Lots of lessons have already been learnt.

[Update on post]

AC/DC partners with Wal-mart to sell new album

Hard rock band AC/DC has continued to spurn digital distribution of their music, refusing to sell any of their tracks online. Yet they still remain one of the industry’s top selling acts, maintaining a creative bricks and mortar strategy to move merchandise. Here is a video from Advertising Age outlining their latest arrangement with Wal-mart for “Black Ice“, the first AC/DC album in eight years.


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Marshall McLuhan still influences with “The medium is the massage”

On a recent trip to Melbourne I visited the State Library of Victoria to have a look at some of the exhibitions, including one called, Mirror of the World: Books & Ideas. As part of this exhibit they had a display of, what the State Librarian determined to be, 15 Books of Influence’ . Books that have changed the course of history or that have changed the way we see ourselves and our culture. Of course, this is a hugely controversial topic and can be debated for hours (so please send me your comments). For me, the most interesting thing about the exhibit was the book chosen to be displayed on the wall above all the other monumental works, one I have heard of, but never read: The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore (graphical designer). No “Massage” is not a typo, anymore, at least. McLuhan was famous for coining the phrase, “the medium is the message”, however, according to a story told by McLuhan’s son, when it came to publishing the book, the proofs came back with the printing error “massage” on the cover and McLuhan, feeling that this was entirely symbolic of his philosophy that the medium led and drove the message, left the title as it appeared.

The Medium is the Massage - Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore

The Medium is the Massage - Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore

McLuhan popularised other phrases like Global Village and said “If it works, it’s obsolete” – at the speed of current technological development, it seems a modern phrase, although said more than thirty years ago: McLuhan died in 1980. Though published in 1967, the commentary in McLuhan’s book about the role the medium plays in formatting the message is fundamental for all players in the new media landscape.

The complete list of books that have influenced the world is:

1) Astronomia Instaurata (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium) – by Nicolaus Copernicus

2) Traitté de la Peinture – by Leonardo Da Vinci

3) Dialogo … Sopra i Due Massimi Sistemi del Mondo – by Galileo Galilei

4) Der Achte Teil der Bücher des Ehrnwirdigen Herrn D. Martini Lutheri – by Martin Luther

5) Opticks or A treatise of the refractions, inflections, and colours of light – by Sir Isaac Newton (Yes, Opticks not Principia – considered just as, if not more, important as the discoveries of gravity and calculus)

6) New experiments and observations on electricity – by Benjamin Franklin (in display but not on Library website)

7) On the origin of species – by Charles Darwin

8) Traité de Radioactivité – by Marie Curie

9) Das Kapital: Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie – by Karl Marx

10) ‘Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitatstheorie’ in Annalen der Physik, vol. 49 Albert Einstein

11) Gesammelte Schriften (Collected Writings)– by Sigmund Freud

12) Le Deuxieme Sexe – by Simone de Beauvior (on display when I was there but replaced by Mary Wollstonecraft on the Library website.)

13) Quotations from Chaiman Mao (The Little Red Book)

14) Why We Can’t Wait – by Martin Luther King, Jr

15) I am prepared to die – by Nelson Mandela

16) The female eunuch – by Germaine Greer

17)  The medium is the massage – by Marshall McLuhan (in display but not on Library website)

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.
—George Orwell


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