September 21, 2012 – 12:36 pm
The rising popularity of social media represents a real opportunity for many businesses with one condition: to be used in an intelligent manner in such a way to boost their brand.
With millions of people chatting, sharing pictures and networking, companies have a real chance to use these platforms to pitch their products or get their customers’ feedback. If companies do know how to use these social platforms in a correct manner, they will arrive in a position where their customers will create/produce the advertising ads for them and then share the new media products with their friends. All these – for free.
But what happens if something goes wrong?
What happens if there is too much creativity and things get out of control?
It is very important to understand that same tools that can bring your brand to a point it has never been before, can carry many risks that sometimes can be unpredicted.
For instance, Toyota Matrix - the advertising company that worked for this client decided to create an innovative social media campaign with real-life elements… Unfortunately, no one knew what this “high-end creative process’ would lead to. Basically, their concept was based on the famous MTV show (Punk’d). According to the plan, a prospective buyer of a Matrix would single out a friend to be the target of a prank. This may be the perfect scenario for some free marketing across social media channels.
Things got out of control when one of the targets – Amber Duick, received a series of emails from a fictious British soccer hooligan (Sebastian Bowler). He told her in the emails he would come to visit her and will bring out his pit bull as well. One of these emails contained a fake bill for damages made by Bowler in a hotel room. According to the information Duick got, the soccer hooligan had left as contact information her email address.
The consequence was easy to guess… Duick filed a lawsuit of $10 million.
To defend themselves, Toyota and their advertising company considered the claim as being “”entirely without merit adding that Duick had already granted her permission to receive e-mails and other communications from Toyota.
While the plaintiff was terrified – according to her lawyer, the next question is….had the email specified the entire process was an advertising campaign? If so, the woman would not have been so scared….
Again, beyond creativity and beyond any kind of sophisticated strategy it has to be about marketing language!
This is one of the situations when it makes a difference of $10 million (damage that can be counted) but the brand damage as a whole cannot be estimated because it is reflected not only in social media (number of impressions or other variables) but also in sales.
This is the story of ‘Your Other You’ campaign that failed because the language was inappropriate and because no one took into consideration that such an approach is so unpredictable and consequently, marketers have to be very careful when they judge any kind of approach as being creative –crazy –not interesting-risky. In other words, this is a part of marketing where focus groups cannot really help just like new scripts for a indie movie. You cannot predict, you cannot test your customer’s taste – you risk a lot. This being said, do not put additional pressure on your campaign by trying to pass over the edge but rather create a positive context and engage your prospective customer into it rather than building a real life situation that is turning into a sinister joke…..