Tom Coates on a new low for marketers, brands and advertising agencies in their clumsy attempts to co-opt the blogosphere for their ‘targetted campaigns’.
A ‘viral marketer’ used Tom’s post about his estranged father, a deeply personal topic, to leave ‘personal’ and sympathetic comment under the name of one Barry Scott. Nice, apart from the fact that Barry Scott is a fake character from a blog called Barry Scott Here (no google juice for that blog but Tom links to him in his post), a marketing vehicle for Cillit Bang products. In the words of Jon Stewart, one could say: It was definitely viral, I felt nauseous afterwards. Tom has done some good detective work, digging out names such as Young & Rubicam, Partners J. Walter Thompson, Reckitt Benckiser.
There are some pretty damning comments as well. The brand gets it, the industry gets it:
On one level it’s simply an addition to the constant irratation of comment spam. On another it just adds to the continuing irritation of advertising in general leeching off communities (or in adspeak, target groups) to market products that by their very nature are tired and lacking in imagination and forward thinking - I don’t have the facts but I can imagine that this particular product won’t go on to win any environmental awards. And no, their ads are not ironic, they’re just annoying. And that’s plain and simple annoying, not even discuss it down the pub annoying.
Holy crap. This is just insane. At what point does it seem like anything resembling a good idea to get your brand associated with an apparent willingness to make capital like this? If it isn’t somebody spoofing, somebody has really lost control of their marketing plan.
Another commenter, Will Rowan sums it up well:
All “Barry” has done is brought the same ethics as work just fine in other marcomms channels, and used them online. Where, imho, they don’t work. At all. You need to be a whole lot smarter than this to make a commercial blog work for your brand.
Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks that fake blogs can be used as a front to engage with the rest of the blogosphere.
They can’t. Period.
And a useful graph to show to those who needs to see the damage. There is much I need to add to this, other than I am not surprised by this. In the last six months I have been approached by several (large) advertising and media agencies to talk to them about blogs for their clients and very quickly concluded that they are simply not my market. There is nothing that will jerk most of them out of their, we-are-the-ministry-of-fun-co-opting-the-next-’cool’-thing-and-selling-it-to-clients-for-much-money attitude. Nowadays, I just tell them that my aim is to tell their clients how to do this for themselves, with authentic voice, for a fraction of their budgets. If they don’t balk, then we talk.
Oh dear. It looks quite a lot like Reckitt Benckiser, Cilit Bang’s makers, or their ad agencies, think this is a good way to sell cleaning product. And it looks quite a lot like they’re about to learn what happens when viral marketing goes wrong. May they be flamed to a cinder.