Today I presented at the 6th Annual Future of Digital Advertising for the IAB and AIMIA (#foda09 on Twitter). I talked about a few things, shared some insight on what I thought (hopefully) could help the digital industry further itself this year.
The main body of my preso was on the digital consumer and how brands need reconsider their approach, especially when using social as a tool. I discussed social objects – good ones, bad ones, great ones. I talked about Digital Brand DNA- something that Joe Crump our Razrofish NY Creative Director has pioneered with his ‘Digital Darwinism’ presentations.
In the last year I have come to believe strongly that great digital creative usually contains 7 digital brand genes that Joe Crump identified. See his full preso and video from Cannes (here):
OK, so what about that Naked / Witchery Viral? (I’ve embedded their YouTube campaign in case you missed it). It’s clearly a bigger story than I realised (the SMH and Naked have both been in touch with me today as a result). The thing is, I like Naked as an Agency – I like the way they challenge, stand up, break things, and do things that are counter intuitive. I know the guys well and we’ve worked with them many times on probably 6 or more different clients. In fact they’re one of the best agencies in town to collaborate with especially when it comes to their open approach to digital.
So what’s wrong with the above and why bother raising it, especially in a public forum? Well as you may have gathered my problem is not with Naked at all, it is with fake viral in general. In fairness, Naked were one example of a few I showed. QLD Tourism and Nike were both raised. We have a mountain to climb to be accepted (as advertisers and brands) into the new consumer landscape and these social channels are theirs, not ours. I know that consumers genuinely welcome cool clever intelligent advertising – but I cannot see any evidence that they like being deceived routinely. Comments below the videos often do the talking, especially when the deception is revealed.
Fake Viral for Nike feat Taylor Momsen
I’m a big believer in being able to make mistakes in the search for progress (digital is a tough gig, and there are new things we learn every day so mistakes do happen), but why the same mistake over and over? I also can’t understand why the elements of risk associated with generating negative brand sentiment in consumer channels are not better understood. As I tried to point out today, the 2.5m tweets per day, 915,000 blogs per day are heavily indexed by Google and can quickly produce negative organic search results. Let’s face it – search is very important, especially if you are a digital ROI client. Why would any company want to see their first page of Google results polluted with negative blog posts about their brand? The reality is that the social media sword cuts both ways.
Unfortunately the knock on effect is that negative news like the above often impacts other agencies, especially digital ones. I’ve seen brand managers get nervous when they see things like this in the news and subsequently make rapid judgement that the social medium is too volatile and uncontrollable. Budgets get withdrawn. We all start to lose – and that’s where I have a problem, because we know enough about social now to start doing things differently, and do it right.
What’s the solution?
So here’s the thing – Fake Viral is completely possible, and without deception. There have been some great examples from the US. Here’s one from Coors:
Here’s another ad for Coors, deliberately designed to breed consumer imitations (of which there are many). Great use of Social Object Theory:
Rolling Rock ran a hilarious campaign on Moonvertsing (here) which although potentially controversial produced a great digital response. Again completely Fake but with full disclosure from day one. I could go on, but it’s late and I think you get the picture right?
There are better, bigger, broader opportunities to engage consumers using social media that can still be authentic, mysterious, realistic. Yes it’s a creative challenge but if we can start to get this right there are big wins for consumers, clients and agencies alike. Naked aren’t the first, and won’t be the last to feel the heat on this issue – but they’re a great agency and will rise above it. I do hope that in the future the industry will adopt some of Joe’s 7 digital brand genes, it’s a good place to start.