Look, I have nothing against advertising agencies. Some of my good friends work at top ad agencies and I admire their creative brilliance and verve. Also, many advertising agencies do a good job with integrating Social Media into their overall work.
I also am not in the habit of taking potshots at specific ad campaigns. Generally I figure everyone has good intentions and we can’t expect genius-level execution all the time.
Lastly, as ya’ll know, I fully acknowledge that there remain many gray areas when it comes to ethical challenges in Social Media.
But the new Stella Artois campaign struck me as such a perfect example of how some Advertising agencies take a bone-headed, campaign-is-king approach to Social Media that it begged for a discussion. Here’s goes:
The campaign for Stella Artois is offering up a contest to attend the next Cannes Film Festival. The premise is that “Jacques d’Azur” — a made-up cosmopolitan playboy and movie magnate — has gone missing and only his rightful heir can be awarded his spot at Cannes.
(The “star” of the campaign is transparently derivative of the Dos Equis campaign around “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” But never mind that.)
At the Stella Artois site, the use of Facebook Connect to integrate the visitor’s personal content in the accompanying contest video is best-in-class — very tight and creative. Not only did it use my profile pic in clever ways, it also clearly made note of my gender and marital status. The campaign is certainly worth checking out from that standpoint alone.
So far, I’d give the Advertising team a B for creativity and an A+ for technical wizardry. The campaign falls apart in terms of its promotion via Social Media.
The Facebook Fanpage is all about Jacques d’Azur — including a fake bio, a fake Wikipedia tab, etc. OK, fine, I don’t get all hot & bothered about such “fake” campaign sites. It’s what makes Advertising campaigns fun; you’d have to be a real clod to not understand what’s going on here. Still, looking at the Wall on this Facebook Page, clearly the only folks engaged are the folks on the advertising team, posing as characters from the campaign:
The lack of true engagement on the Facebook page is lame but not surprising, plus, it’s still early in the campaign: maybe more fans will lead to more actual back-and-forth. Still, it would be nice to see some effort at engaging new fans.
Moving on … It’s the Twitter spam that is galling. From what I can tell, there are no less than SEVEN fake Twitter accounts involved, and each of them appears to be spamming anyone on Twitter who has a decent number of followers, like so:
This appears to be going on all day, across all of the fake accounts. I’ve had two industry friends reach out to me in the past 24 hours and ask, “Did you see that spam from Stella Artois? Ugh.”
Why would I re-tweet that message from @celinevcarter? What is the relevance to me? Why was I targeted, beyond the fact that I have X+ number of followers? If there was a better reason for targeting me than my follower count, how would I know? — I’ve only been directed to the generic campaign landing page on YouTube.
I’ve written before about the challenges that Advertising agencies face when it comes to the daily grind of Social Media.
Creating a relationship is hard. Sustaining a relationship is harder. Converting a casual fan to a true brand evangelist is next to impossible. All of that relationship-building is hard to measure along the way (ROI), and, fraught with risk to boot.
It is far easier to spend millions on something cool and creative and hope to generate some short-term buzz that might lead to a measurable sales boost.
But then what? When this campaign is over, whether it’s a success or failure, what relationship will have been created with new Stella fans? What is the next call to action? If the next campaign is not as fun or relevant, will those fans still rise to the bait and help promote it, or, will they fail to engage and ignore it? Will someone who became a fan thanks to this fun campaign have reason enough to rally around the brand in a crisis?
Advertising agencies don’t think such thoughts. It is not in their DNA. It’s not their fault, but neither should they fool themselves into thinking that this stuff is easy.
Relationships buoy campaigns. Campaigns do not create relationships.
Posted on: March 25, 2010 at 9:52 am By Todd Defren