Thursday, April 16, 2015

you get what you pay for

Every week now there seems to be another social media marketing disaster, usually revolving around the hijacking of the campaign hashtag or - as in the case of the lamentable #freshinourmemories debacle most recently - the hijacking of a 'branded' meme generator gizmo.

Blamestorming from the chattering classes obviously divides it's finger-pointing towards either the agency or the client.

I'll always tend to look at the agency and wonder what on earth they were thinking.
It's grade-A Dunning-Kruger.

In the #freshinourmemories case it appears that the agency in question may pay heavily.

Their website has gone offline completely and other clients have been reported to have dumped them.

But this hurts us all. It makes the whole industry looks bad.

To those who would blame the client - they signed it off etc - I would say, perhaps.

But then don't expect clients to come to agencies for strategic counsel for much longer.

Do we want to be just implementers?

Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. He'd be having a laugh at this business.

But here's a question.

Would there have been the same kerfuffle if the campaign had been a bunch of press ads and posters, for example?

Media that had to be paid for.

Rory Sutherland mentions this a lot.

The act of advertising - in a paid form and because that form is expensive - conveys an implicit meaning which free (ie social) media does not.

Paying for advertising is a kind of 'costly-signalling' by the brand that says ' we have some confidence our service and we value our reputation. So much so that we are prepared to stick some money behind it.'

The message of #freshinourmemories was not exploitative in itself (though 'fresh' is pretty clumsy).

But to simply pay to promote it may have been viewed as showing more commitment to the spirit.

Dare I say, more 'authentic'.

But as long as agencies are peddling 'the answer is social media, now what's the question?' then the clients that 'buy' into that will be getting what they pay for.

At best, not a lot.

At worst, regrettable and avoidable gubbins of the kind we've witnesses this week.

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