more online originality

If more proof was needed that advertisers, even major ones, just don’t get this webbernet thing, I give you yet another YouTube contest that I stumbled upon this morning while looking for a commercial I was going to post about. From P&G, one of the most respected and innovative marketers around comes this gem:

gillette phenom contest

First of all, user-generated contests are dead. They worked when they had novelty, when it was possible to get that fifteen minutes of fame through something like this. They also worked as long as the stakes could be raised, like having the winner’s creation shown during the Super Bowl.

Without either novelty or a breakthrough prize, and considering that everyone else is doing it (including competitor Schick, whose contest Circle One sent up on AdPulp), this tactic is both unoriginal and lazy.

Further, I would be willing to bet, it is completely ineffective. It is ineffective because the internet is a vast sea of content, none of which I have to see if I don’t want to.

By that I mean to draw a clear distinction between the online space and, say, television. Television is still the best way to broadly reach an audience because, while I am watching, I am captive and brands can push their messages out to me. This is not the case online.

Tangerine Toad has a great post on “Clicking Through The Internet” which is, as he describes it, “the name I give to the phenomenon whereby normally intelligent people at both digital and traditional agencies decide that people will find their cool new flash microsite without any sort of external driver. It’s as if the internet were a giant cable TV line-up or magazine and the consumer will be clicking through it, land on the microsite and magically become entranced.”

The content online is, for all intents and purposes, infinite. There is no line-up, no captive audience and only the slimmest chance that someone will stumble upon your site or contest or brand without an external driver.

And even if a person were to stumble upon your online marketing tactic by accident, they are just as likely to blog about what a bad idea it is as they are to react to it.

Memo to Gillette: You need to read Tangerine Toad to get a handle on this new internet age. You also may want to get an agency that doesn’t pitch you re-tread, hacky ideas.


5 responses to “more online originality

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words. But mostly thank you for being someone who completely and totally gets what this new world is all about. So few people do.

    For those of you on Twitter, check out what Tony Hsieh, the CEO of is doing on there. He’s using the medium for real: tweeting about his life (though not ad nauseum) and interacting with customers. Today, at the suggestion of one of them, he’s giving out a free pair of shoes to one of his Twitter followers and 10 of their friends.

    A small-scale contest, perhaps, but one that’s bound to win him lots of goodwill and loyalty from people who sense the authenticity– he’s genuinely curious to hear from people and he’s the actual CEO. It’s not some detached PR stunt dreamed up by the marketing department.

    All of these internet plays have a strong first-adopter advantage (e.g. the first one to do it gets a lot of credit and it’s still, as DB noted, fresh and unique to consumers: the 88th CEO to give something away on Twitter will seem kind of out of it.)



  2. I’m up to 19 contests that I’ve stumbled on since visiting in the past year, and all of them are now morphing into each other. Remember when ‘websites’ were all the rage back in the day? (Heeeey, I know, we’ll do a WEBSITE!”) It’s like that now with YT contests: Throw money at people, upload and vote.


  3. Pingback: guest blogging on adrants this week « the daily (ad) biz

  4. I agree with your assessment of TV vs. YT with respect to reach. YT wins eyeballs in a WOM way that is both warm and fuzzy. That W&F quotient is worth a ton of feathers, a free iPod,etc! 😉

  5. Pingback: heineken wants you to upload and stuff « the daily (ad) biz

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