when PR gets it wrong

14 09 2011

Sometimes marketing and PR companies try to be too tricky….and fail big-time.

Case No 1. Toyota Stalker Campaign. (Saatchi and Saatchi) A California woman is suing Saatchi and Saatchi and Toyota after a guerilla marketing campaign which she claims “freaked [her] out”. After clicking on an email which offered her a personality profile, she started receiving emails from a man who knew things about her and said he was heading to her house where he wanted to stay. He was in trouble with a motel manager (who sent her a bill for damages). A MySpace page had been set up in the same name.

The campaign was aimed at young males who the company profiled as liking to prank each other. A friend signed you up for the hoax, chose a character who would them bombard the victim with emails, phone messages, text messages and videos for five days.

In their defence they claimed that in agreeing to the terms of the personality profile, the woman had unknowingly agreed to having emails sent to her.

More details here.

Case No. 2 ConAgraTV Dinner Con (Ketchum)

If you were going to annoy a load of people through a con – would you pick people with an active blog and a large following?

That’s what ConAgra did. They invite a load of food bloggers – those dedicated to natural whole and organic foods, low salt, no preservatives, etc – to a special dinner to be prepared for them by chef George Duran, host of Ultimate Cake off.

Then they served these bloggers a TV dinner, complete with the usual perservatives – Marie Callender’s three-cheese lasagne. Now while they apparently had reasonable approval rates (62.5% approval rating), the bloggers were not pleased to be conned and made their opinions known – where else, on their blogs.

ConAgra has said they will not be using the hidden video footage of the dinner.

More information on this one here.

Case No. 3. Comcast Phishing emails
Blogger Carol Tice writes about a suspicious email she received from Comcast telling her her computer was infected by Bots! and they have a great product to help her, Constant Guard.

The email was set up very much like the phishing emails that try to get you to click on their links and buy their “antivirus” product. Closer inspection showed that in fact the email said that her computer “may” be infected. Too little, too late.

Again, another too clever by half marketing campaign that probably got deleted by most people who received it, and disbelieved by the rest.

Carol’s blog is here.

Message to PR and Marketing companies: We don’t like to be conned!



18 07 2011

When I started on Social Media, I was very careful about personal information. I didn’t add my hometown to my Facebook page or to TripAdvisor. I carefully avoided anything geographically identifying, or particularly, identifying of my children. When I left the house or went on holidays I carefully refrained from posting comments or photos until I returned home – in case I was advertising that my house was empty.

I worried about identity theft and carefully googled myself to see what information was out there. (Sidebar – I was somewhat alarmed to find an obituary for myself – then realised it was an 82 year old woman in the US with the same triple barrelled name.)

I marvelled at the difference between my Gen X friends – all as paranoid as me – and my Gen Y friends who put it all out there. My Gen X friends, like me, know everyone on their Facebook Friends list, even if some of them were school friends from 25 years ago. Some of my Gen Y friends have over 2000 friends. How is that even possible?

And then came the “check-in” app. Or as I like to call it, Stalker-App. In case I ever need to know where someone is – they check in. They check in when they are in bed (and then their address is clearly visible on the map, helpfully GPS positioned by Facebook). They check in when they are out – and where. Sometimes they also check in their friends. And yes, it has become a competition to see who can check in from the most exotic places and who has the best social life.

Where privacy is concerned, this seems to have become the great leveller. And the thin edge of the wedge. Suddenly everyone is checking in somewhere. (Perhaps we should be enjoying ourselves wherever we are instead of busily tapping it into our iphone or ipad.) And once you’ve started posting personal information and the world doesn’t end (or at least no-one has stolen your identity or targeted you in some other way), why stop? You get so much more feedback.

Suddenly, my entire career path is up on LinkedIn. Is this a good idea? Who knows?! I was told the other day at a social media conference that people get jobs through LinkedIn. No-one I know, I have to say. I know many people who were checked out by recruiters, looking up information on LinkedIn and Facebook. But I don’t know anyone who actually got head-hunted as a result of their LinkedIn profile. I wonder if this is an across-the-board trend, or is it just for people working in social media?

If I google myself now I can find all sorts of personal information about myself, most of it posted by me. Much of it is from chatting to people I feel like I know. But it is all out there forever.

In an age where we mistrust others, lock ourselves away behind bolted doors and gates, lecture our children on stranger danger – is social media the reaction to the isolation we feel?

How do you feel about the amount of personal information about yourself available on the net? Have you had a job offer from LinkedIn? Tell me about it!