the one where I talk about kotex

When most brands try to integrate their social media and traditional marketing, it’s … awkward.

Here’s a current commercial for a brand and a product I am biologically unable to connect to:

You know what helps says the hipster female comedian … Come on, ad guys.

Anyway, the spot ends with the call-to-action of “Tweet #KotexforReal“.

Really? At some point, there was a meeting of ad and social media gurus where someone said:

Let’s integrate our traditional TV ad buy with a hashtag to synergize the social experience and empower our customers to connect with our brand and talk about their menstrual cycles.

Sounds like the bookstore from Portlandia.

So I’m watching the TeeVee while I’m on the Twitter and the spot comes on. I check the hashtag.

95% of the tweets are from 14-35 year-old males who are ridiculing the spot in a vulgar way.
3% are a variation of the tweet, “The TV said I should tweet #KotexforReal”. (which is scary).
The other 2% are #TeamFollowBack and spammers.

Does a personal hygiene brand really want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a TV spot that generates “free” social media mentions like this?

When you try to astroturf social media buzz, you WILL get your hashtag hijacked. Social media marketing conversations are just like any other marketing conversation with consumers. If they’re transparent, they will fail.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Hugh MacLeod: “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”

death of originality and creativity

One of the odder analogies I use when I teach and present is that of cooking and compression. When creating digital media, it’s best to work with the original uncompressed digital file for the best final result. Using compressed (cooked) files, you’ll not get a clean final product. To show this, I take audiences’ minds into the kitchen:

You can take raw hamburger meat and make a meatloaf.
You could chop up the leftover meatloaf, add seasoning, and create taco filling.
You could take that leftover taco filling and add it to a pot of chili.
You could take that chili and…etc.
Eventually, the meat will be processed repeatedly until it turns into an inedible mush that still has artifacts left over from previous incarnations.

Yum.

It’s an analogy that works for mp3s and jpgs, but it’s also what’s happening more and more with creativity and originality in our culture. Instead of new ideas, we’re recycling old ones. We’re using leftovers to fill us up instead creating a fresh standard.

They’re making a Broadway play based on the movie ‘Animal House’. Think about that while recalling what other classic movies and TV shows have been ruined by redux adaptations and reimaginings. Add that to the rote and repetitive grind of reality TV, pop music, sports, and other packaged entertainment for the masses.

And that’s just pop culture / entertainment. The same thing is happening in design, technology, and art where the mixup, mashup, reblog, retweet, adaptation, parody, and share are sometimes considered of more importance than the original.

Eventually, it’s all going to turn to mush.

Who will create fresh content and provide original ideas? Sounds like an opportunity for someone.

UPDATE: A few days after I posted this, James Lileks wrote a few great paragraphs (as always) that are related to this idea. Take a look at the last third of his post (after the dog and set parts).

linguistical maneuvers

Apple wants the iPad 3 to be called the “new iPad”.

This poses some questions for the future. What happens when the next incarnation of the iPad arrives? Will we call it the newer iPad? At that point, what will we call this iPad? The old new iPad?

Then what about versions after that? Will the hipsters eventually walk into the Apple Store and say “I need a dock for my old newer new newest iPad”?

There is some strategy behind this branding shift for Apple. We just won’t get to see their complete line of thinking until the new newer version of the newest iPad is unveiled in a few years.