One is reminded of the Derek and Clive “This Bloke Came Up To Me” sketch, which we join half way through.
Clive : I was watching a game against Arsenal, and this bloke came up to me and said “Hello”.
Derek : Oh no…
Clive : And I thought, “Christ!”
Derek : Yeah.
Clive : You know, this bloke comes up to me, says, “Hello”.
Derek : Provocative fucker.
Clive : Fucking provocative.
Derek : Mmmm.
Clive : I said what do you mean, “Hello”?
There is much we can learn from this sketch.
Firstly that swearing IS big, funny and clever.
Secondly that it IS possible for other people to find you funny when you’re plastered and they’re stone cold sober.
But most importantly that people get wound up by the tiniest things.
Tiny things like the suggestion that social media aren’t necessarily the answer to life, the universe and everything.
In a there’s-a-clue-in-the-name kinda way The Ad Contrarian sets his stall out to be a provocative fucker.
The alleged massive failure in question was the Pepsi Refresh project.
This was the much vaunted (in social media circles) move by Pepsi to shift their entire Superbowl ad spend ($20 million) into a charitable social initiative.
A move which apparently “hasn’t worked.”
Talk about red rag to a bull.
I suspect that Ad Contrarian was quietly hoping that the social set would get its knickers in a twist when he wrote the Social Media’s Massive Failure post.
And the social set duly obliged.
Social media evangelist 1 : This blogger comes up to me, says, “social media’s massive failure”.
Social media evangelist 2 : Provocative fucker.
Social media evangelist 1 : Fucking provocative.
69 comments and counting at the time of writing.
Ad Contrarian is clearly a fucking effective provocative fire starter. Yeah.
And he carries a jerry can full of petrol with him just in case.
And petrol was duly poured several times in the immediate aftermath of his initial, firestarting post.
Social Media Hysterics (ouch)
Anyway, somewhat belatedly, here’s my tuppence-worth on what has turned into an unhelpful, black and white, Social Media versus Advertising slanging match.
Firstly, not all ads, not all social media initiatives, not all advertising people, not all social media evangelists are created equal. As with just about every field of human endeavour a normal distribution of quality/ability applies.
The point being that a sample of one social media campaign is not proof of anything. What if Pepsi Refresh is a below average quality idea? What if it was below average in terms of how well it was executed? (And there seems to be some evidence to suggest that the execution was lacking in some respects.) What conclusions can we reasonably draw about social media as a whole from a single, possibly (probably?) non-exemplar campaign?
I have no idea how “good”, whatever “good” means, the Pepsi Refresh campaign is. It doesn’t matter. You can’t draw sweeping general conclusions from one specific case study.
And Ad Contrarian knows that.
But he hasn’t let that knowledge get in the way of a little fucking provocation and a lot of page views on his blog.
Secondly there’s the whole idea of a social media “campaign”.
The idea of replacing an ad campaign with a social media campaign.
Switching one kind of campaign for another.
Campaign is a useful concept for advertising. Advertising is an event based approach to communicating.
But I believe campaign to be a dangerous concept for all things social. Done properly social is a continuous approach to communicating.
A campaign (advertising) mentality begs the question “How can we use social media?”
A continuous mentality begs the better question “How can we best be social?”
Planning social campaigns as such feels like a very advertising thing to do. And, if Pepsi Refresh is a failure, I suspect that the underlying, campaign-for-campaign attitude is as much at fault as anything else.
There are plenty of brands that are doing very well by taking a long term approach to being social, rather than a campaign approach to using social media. Again the Pepsi Refresh example is no guide to future success or failure in this respect.
Finally the whole advertising versus social (either/or) debate is clearly nonsense. To the point of not being worth dignifying with further comment. Provocative, fucking provocative even, but not useful.
As another provocative fucker recently said…