Clare Werbeloff: the last word 2.0

Once you start covering a subject you have to finish it, I guess. So here’s the latest.

Tim Burrowes from mUmBRELLA ventured to Luna Park last night for a catwalk show to launch the new computer game ‘The Sims 3’. The event was run by The Project and he saw Werbeloff sitting in the front row, later to be asked up on stage for a catwalk.

One of the questions from media insiders when all this broke was, “Was Werbeloff connected with The Projects?,” and “Was she out there trying to create viral marketing pieces for The Projects?” I’ll let Tim from mUmBRELLA explain the rest of what he saw.

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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.

A Current Affair does Clare

Just to round this whole thing out and follow up on my last post, here is A Current Affair‘s interview with Clare Werbeloff from tonight. Don’t know what to say, really…

mUmBRELLA reports that:

Kings Cross bogan Clare Werbeloff has already been discussed online more than 40,000 times, according to a calculation released today by social media monitoring company Buzz Numbers.

According to the company, since Werbeloff’s breathless retelling of a shooting that she didn’t actually witness went viral last Monday, at least 41,186 conversations have occurred online on Australian websites.

Although many PR agencies no longer use an equivalent media value figure, BuzzNumbers says that if this metric is used, it would was worth $200,000 in equivalent advertising dollars on Australian websites and social media destinations alone.

The rest of the post is here.

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.

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]

Wassup2008 hottest viral video sequel

Remember that quintessential American advert for Budweiser that introduced the world to America’s version of G’Day Mate. Well it’s returned, but not for Budweiser, this time it has a tragic-comic political stance that has taken the blog world by storm over the past two days. Here’s both the original and the current version of “Wassup” for comparison.

Update: Here’s an extract from a post that goes behind the Wassup2008 viral video and explains how it all came about.

Who’s behind the “Wassup2008” Obama ad. Not Budweiser – by Burt Helm (Business Week)

This morning when I blogged about the “Wassup 2008” Obama video, two questions sprung to my mind. First, who paid for this thing? The production values are very high – one person from Budweiser’s ad agency, DDB, estimated it could have cost as much as $750,000 (she also said DDB had nothing to do with the video). Second, how could Budweiser possibly be cool with such a clearly partisan advertisement?

After some digging, I found out. First, it cost way less than $750k. Second, Budweiser had no clue it was happening until after the video hit YouTube on Friday.

The man with the answers? Charles Stone III, the director of the original “Wassup” commercial and the movie Drumline (and the guy who answers the phone in the first frame of the video). He decided to make it about two weeks ago, he told me, with a crew of about 50 volunteers (all professionals working pro bono). They put it together in 9 days.

Read the rest of Burt’s post here.

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