I recently wrote about the Mad Men craze that had taken over Twitter. Characters from the hit television program sprang to life on the chattiest of social networks - including Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper, Paul Kinsey, Pete Campbell, Bud Melman, Bobbie Barrett, Sal Romano and Joan Holloway.
Given a recent high-profileTwitterjacking of a brand, it's not surprising that Twitter and AMC would have this reaction. But AMC should have been prepared for the backlash that the account suspension created. These are characters that inspired a cult following on Twitter - in some cases, garnering nearly 1,000 followers in nearly a week of twittering; and they're featured in one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time.
But this is where it gets interesting. By about 6:45 p.m. EDT, AMC's agency, Deep Focus, convinced them that they should be playing along, and the accounts were reinstated. Evidently, the advice that the hip agency gave their client was that it's "better to embrace the community than negate their efforts."
I suppose it raises a valid concern. In this day and age when we're seeing more opportunities for brand ambassadorship, both sponsored and consumer-generated, when should it be embraced and when should it be shunned? If fans are being faithful to the brand and encouraging interest in the brand, clearly the brand is benefitting from the increased attention and interplay.
But it's got to be incredibly unnerving for brand managers and marketing managers watch this happen. At any point, a fan with less than enough restraint might do something "off-brand" and jeopardize how people think of the company or its products. And then there's a problem.
Which is why savvy marketers should be on the cutting edge of social media. If AMC had the foresight with which I had credited them, they would have been the ones who established these accounts. But the fact that their fans did so on their behalf shows how dedicated the fans are. To quash the effort just as it was getting off the ground was foolhardy.
What do you think? Did AMC make a big mistake (or two)? When should a brand be concerned with brandjacking and when should it embrace passionate fans? Is there necessarily a fine line, or is it a gray area?
August 20, 2008
I've been a fan of Mad Men since the series premiered. The production values are amazing and the story lines are gripping, with some very complex characters. And I wrote about the unique advertising model that the show used, essentially making the ads relevant on a show about advertising in this day and age when we can skip right by commercials.
Back then, the show's blog was already in full swing; now it's even more so, with show highlights, previews and interaction with the various commenters. The categories that the authors are selecting fit right in with the show as well: 1960s Handbook helps we modernistas understand what life in the Kennedy era was like; Fashion File is a testament to both the cool styles of the early 'Sixties and the difficult and detailed work that the fashion designers perform for each episode.
There's also a very active forum, Mad Men Talk and a contest: the best impression of a character (by popular acclaim) wins a walk-on role on the show. And naturally, there's the long-standing Facebook group.
But now it looks like the show's marketing team has stepped up the game again by really jumping into the social media space. Mad Men - this show with such rich characters - is now on Twitter. Specifically, you'll find the following characters there, tweeting with each other and with you, if you "@" them:
August 13, 2008
I've got a slew of unanswered friend requests on Facebook. It's not because I forgot about them. It's not because I don't care. On the contrary: I'm reminded of them every time I open my Facebook account, and I do care, which is why I'm writing this post. It's just that I have no context.
I have no problem with accepting friend requests from people I haven't met or don't really know. In fact, I've written about it before, in a post titled (appropriately enough): How I Think About My Social Networks.
If you'd like to friend me, the only thing I ask you to do is to identify how you know me and why you'd like to connect.
So how about it? Feel like friending me up? Go for it. But do my a favor and just tell me why.
How about you? Do you like to know where these requests are coming from?
August 5, 2008
I'm very excited about tomorrow. We're trying something a little different at Ford for our 2009 Model Year media day. I've only been on the new job for three weeks, so this isn't necessarily the most robust program, but I'm proud to say that we're including a number of bloggers.
My belief is that bloggers - the new influencers - should be treated just like media, as they're publishers, they've got communities that care about what they think, and most of all, they're real people with real opinions. I wanted them to be able to get the inside scoop that traditional journalists are privy to.
In this case, I asked our team at Social Media Group to look beyond the usual suspects of auto bloggers (mostly because the big auto bloggers are already part of our media relations program) and to look for lifestyles - people interested in technology, environmental issues, family and luxury. We also invited some smaller auto bloggers and a few local new media types as well. Here's the rundown:
While this is by no means the extent of what I'd eventually like to see as far as a blogger outreach effort, it's a great start. I hope that everyone will enjoy themselves, learn a little bit about some of the very exciting things going on inside Ford (as shown in the video below), and have a blast out on the track.
I'm a little late with this post (as I am with a number of posts - I apologize for that; my life is getting back on track after the move to Michigan). But it's something I wanted to bring to your attention.
As I mentioned in April, the team at Plaid was planning their 2nd annual cross-country trip, heralded as Plaid Nation. Done with their usual style of humor and irreverence, this is a social-media-meets-face-to-face campaign that's worth noting.
If you're not familiar with what Plaid Nation is, it's 5 people from Plaid (an ultra cool and fantastic agency to work with - I had the pleasure of doing business with them when I was at crayon) who for the past two years have decided to do a road tour to meet people and build their brand. In the process they've secured a client or two and have impressed all sorts of people along the way.
While last year's goodwill tour was based on the east coast, this time around, the Plaidish opted for the west coast. In their Econoline van (hey - a Ford product! Cool.) wrapped in the Plaid colors, the team went from Vancouver to Vegas with many stops along the way in just 10 days. From Seesmic to Scoble and Twitter to Zappos, they visited many of the hot companies on every tech geek's short list. Not to be outdone, they had some fun with more of the tried and true, like Jones Soda and Sony Pictures. They even managed to have a run-in with the Canadian authorities.
One of my favorite aspects of this tour was the completely integrated way they treated it: from face-to-face interactions to full online access, the Plaid Nation tour was awash in social media goodness. The the web site. It consisted of:
An interactive Google map, where the team tracked their progress
A Twitter account
Opportunity to IM the van
Three mounted van cams that streamed live video
Dedicated channels on Vimeo and Ustream with scheduled live and archived materials
A facebook page
An updated schedule and Tweetup opportunities
Not to mention the really cool, retro chic design they gave the site. It made me feel like I was on the stops along the way with them.
Even though the trip is over, the material that remains behind is still worth checking out. These guys clearly had a lot of fun and were very generous with their experience throughout. Way to go, Plaid!
August 3, 2008
I've had it with AdAge.com. Don't get me wrong - they've got great content and are always exploring trends and issues in the advertising and marketing world in the way that few other publications can or do.
But for all of the space they give to digital marketing, it's clear that they just don't get it. I suppose I can't fault them; they're a publisher that, like every other publisher these days, is concerned about revenue. But as they try to protect their position and demonstrate effectiveness to their supporters, I think AdAge is missing the bigger picture.
And just to show that I'm not using my blog to mount a snarky complaint, I'll offer some free constructive criticism in this note to AdAge: Dear Advertising Age,
You've been the mainstay of the advertising and marketing industry for a long time - nearly 80 years, in fact. Crain Communications (which interestingly is headquartered near my new home base in Michigan) has a vast empire of publications that are respected across the globe.
But you need to loosen the reins on AdAge. Here are three ways you could make it a little more tolerable.
RSS feeds You employ RSS feeds on your web site - bravo! But you know what? I don't find them of much use because the feeds are only partial; if I want to read the full article, I'm forced to click through to your site. Yes, I realize that this is because you want me to pay attention to all of the banner ads and interruptions you place in my way while I'm there.
But you know what? As someone who is savvy enough to use RSS feeds, I'm also savvy enough to ignore your annoying advertising - or even better - I employ a Firefox add-on that blocks them. If you just give me the option to consume your content the way I want, I guarantee I'll be a more interested / loyal reader.
Online Video I found a pulled TV commercial that I wanted to see on your site - just a short 30-second spot, nothing more. But before I could watch it, you forced me to watch a 15-second spot about some advertiser of yours (I can't remember who) that was pitching targeted video ads. I, someone who despises pre-roll advertising, was being targeted with a pre-roll ad about targeted video. Are you getting the irony here?
Lose the video advertising. It shows a lack of respect for your readers.
Secondly, your sharing features suck. I can grab a link or send someone an email (presumably of the link), but I can't embed your video. Which is incredibly short-sighted on your part, especially since you'd think your pre-roll advertisers would want to be seen elsewhere! Give me a chance to share your content with other people who might be interested.
Power 150 Finally, this is more of a personal suggestion. If you really cared about the digital space, you'd embrace that list of the Power 150 marketing bloggers that you acquired from Todd Andrlik. A good way to start is to give the top 150 bloggers a free subscription to Advertising Age. You've already got your badge sitting on most of their blogs - free advertising - why not show us that you appreciate our service to your publication by giving us a free subscription? It's not that difficult.
It's 2008, people - get with the program. If we've learned anything, it's that you'll have more to gain by giving something away. AdAge stands stuck in the era that is more concerned with the control of its content, and as a result is stingy with its willingness to let content be free.
And it's evident from every page I see on your site, where the top links above the article are "print" "buy reprints" and "email," that you're not as concerned with current techniques. These functions are important, no doubt, but they're as antiquated as pop-up ads. Oh, and your registration process for commenting on a blog post is laughable.
AdAge, please do us all a favor and open up a little. You might find us more willing to open up to you.
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at The Social Media Marketing Blog and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on social media - the convergence of marketing, advertising and PR on the Web - for marketers, agencies, the enterprise and the individual. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.