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Stardate March 1st 2555

 

 

I’ve been in the enviable position of doing not very much at all for the last 6 months.

 

Although trying to train two Bull Terriers is tougher than any advertising project.

 

But during that period I’ve also wasted an inordinate amount of time on social media – facebook, instagram, pinterest, of course the old favourite youtube etc.  More time, in fact, than anyone else in advertising.

 

And if you dispute that, then you ought to be fired for not doing your day job (interestingly, facebook is most active during working hours, weekends are dead because people have a life to live!)

 

It’s been for me a big social experiment because I’m fascinated (and dismayed) with the way the advertising industry is killing itself in its rush to embrace everything new and ditch everything that made it the great business it is.

 

Some companies are even hiring ‘digital guys’ to replace ‘traditional’ creatives.

 

What’s a Digital Guy or Gal?

 

Someone who understands the technology, the ones and zeros? That’s not me.

 

Or someone who simply understands how people USE the digital space? Well I certainly know quite a bit about that now!

 

And whilst agencies and some clients love the idea that people will be ‘having conversations’ about your brand, become ‘advocates’ or ‘brand ambassadors’ selling your brand for free, WAKE UP!

 

People aren’t so freaking sad they’re going to waste too much time ‘engaging’ with most brands out there. The majority of brands aren’t ‘loved’, they’re a necessity, and that’s ok.

 

Dave Dye nailed it recently when he said (I paraphrase) “people respect brands that understand the role they play in our life.”

 

Tell me your margarine is humanitarian and doing great for causes and I’ll say “fuck off, you’re saturated fat and I like you on my bread, end of story”. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE these digital domains, they’re bloody addictive (which is why Pinterest has gone from 2 million users to around 12 million in just the last three months).

 

But here’s the thing:

 

THEY ARE BROADCAST MEDIA.

 

By and large, they’re used by individuals to advertise themselves, their lives, their loves and passions – “look at me”; “look at what my dog can do”; “check my new wheels/heels”; “this is me, with so and so”; “look where I am today” and so on…

 

There aren’t too many ‘conversations’ going on about the relative merits of your average everyday brand.

 

Facebook should be called ME-ME-ME-BOOK.

 

Nothing wrong with all that.

 

And people get ‘likes’ too (our bullies have got thousands on the dedicated sites, BUT WE’RE NOT SELLING ANYTHING).

 

And yes, Starbucks has 28.7 million ‘likes’ which by it’s own admission is partly down to a steady stream of promotions, special offers, coupons and discounts (although there were only 290 thousand ‘active’ last time I looked)

 

By the way, for your comparative reference, Texas Hold’em Poker has 35 million followers.

 

Point is, the Holy Grail of unpaid-for media doesn’t exist.

 

How can you say to a client, in all honesty (yeah I know that sounds like an oxymoron) that “this idea will go viral”?

 

You can’t.

 

And by ditching the classic broadcast media in favour of the ‘new, multi-million individual-channel broadcast media’, you’ll be taking the biggest gamble with your brand it’s possible to take.

 

Even BBH’s wonderful Yeo Valley work, which generated millions of youtube clicks, did so after a 9 million-plus tv exposure during the X-Factor finals. I suspect it would have struggled to generate anything like that amount without the massive tv-kickstart.

 

There’s no such thing as a free media.

 

Blog off.

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