:::renaissance chambara:::

Posts on quality, life, culture, the media, news & tech with a twist & a slice of Limey. I moved my blog to http://renaissancehambara.jp in December 2006, go there for the latest content.

Monday, October 16, 2006

 

Blogging, customer service and cool marketing campaign


OK, so everyone is talking (alright having a conversation with some naked guy) about the Edelman blog for a Wal-Mart sponsored puppet organisation.

Whilst I would like to be exploitative and steal some of their business, I feel for the people at Edelman. When you put yourself in a pioneer position, some of your mistakes can end up being very public.

Anyway some thoughts on it all:
  • There but for the grace of God go I: it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Yes it was pretty dumb and demonstrated the kind of strategic thinking that PRs often get slated for. But I would put good money on it that a number of managers of other large PR agencies had a similar reaction to the post. I am sure that they would love to nail Edelman to the cross in an effort to shake some of their clients loose, but it could just as easily been another large agency instead
  • Crisis management 101: Where Edelman did go wrong was in not keeping the channel of communications as open as they could. Both Rubel and Richard Edelman kept their counsel until they had done an internal inquiry. Really they should have told the blogosphere what they were doing and then went ahead and did it. What is needed now is for the agency to demonstrate that they have learned from the mistake by telling the inside story rather than just committing to it never happening again
  • Sloooow response leads to message amplification: This story seemed to get legs really fast, yet Edelman seemed to take a long time getting a handle on it, allowing the story to gain momentum. Blogs are like an echo chamber, allowing themes to reverberate around -and-around, rather than quickly die like the news agenda for print or broadcast media
  • The only crime is getting caught: Many years ago for a brief time I used to stack clothes in a garment factory. I was very young and there was a van driver called Joey. Joey had been an unsuccessful villain who used to rob payroll deliveries and post offices in the 1970s and used to tell us about the old days. Usually the tale would end with him getting put away and would end with a few factors that had they gone the other way would have saved his bacon. If the client hadn't been Wal-Mart and the blog done a bit more subtly would they have got away with a good corporate reputation exercise? How many people have got away with the same trick before Edelman and Wal-Mart got caught?
  • Living in a glass house: What made the situation worse is the Wal-Mart puppet sponsored site Paid Critics which is a platform to attack paid critics of the retail behemoth
  • Chose your clients carefully: Wal-Mart is considered by its detractors to be exploitative, abusive and the best example of corporate evil in the western world today (though I am sure that environmentalists would argue that ExxonMobil could give Wal-Mart a good run for their money in the corporate evil sweepstake). To borrow from George Lucas: it's corporate body is viewed by critics like the Galactic Empire, and each store a corporate death star with Sam Walton as its Emperor Palpatine. There comes a time when a client is perceived to be so morally repugnant (like tobacco firms have become) that you have to draw the line and turn away their business. Wal-Mart is pushing that boundary. (Hell, I don't mind its scandalous record on the way it treats staff, its exportation of manufacturing jobs on a previously unheard of scale or its treatment of suppliers, but Wal-Mart is so wrong that it wants to hijack the smiley and own it for itself). Oi, Wal-Mart NO! You cannot hijack a cultural icon and get away with it. Bottom line: Edelman's campaign would not have drawn as much scrutiny or criticism but for the emotive association with Wal-Mart
If anybody wants to comment on the Edelman side of the story, or if you are a masochist defend Wal-Mart's smiley hijack, the blog comments section at the bottom of this post is there for you.

No sooner had I blogged about how customer experience was an intrinsic part of brand experience than my MacBook Pro got damaged. My home and contents insurance won't cover it and taking it in to get it serviced at Apple's retail locations means running the gauntlet of its online lottery for the genius bar.

I took my machine to Square Group instead where it will take two weeks for my computer to be looked at an at least another week for parts. The representatives at Square Group admitted that they were overrun in their service department, probably because so many Apple users have had to make the same trip from Apple Store Regent Street to their offices on New Oxford Street.


This service experience lacks quality and I don't mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way.

Apple often compares itself to BMW as a brand, yet BMW has a well defined very efficient customer service machine that is based on traditional values, attention to detail and an understanding of customer needs. Apple obviously doesn't have this heritage and understanding which is the reason why its service model lacks a soul. Slick retail design is merely emperor's new clothes for being a premium brand.


Finally on a more positive note, Absolut Vodka have an interesting marketing campaign called the 100 Absoluts. Participants passions are tapped, they are asked to contribute their opinions and images (user generated content) on the following items. It's a clever campaign that extends itself beyond online to PR and advertising. I only wish that I had thought of it!

THE ABSOLUTE BAG
THE ABSOLUTE BAND
THE ABSOLUTE BLOG
THE ABSOLUTE CHEF
THE ABSOLUTE COCKTAIL OCCASION
THE ABSOLUTE COFFEE JOINT
THE ABSOLUTE COLOR
THE ABSOLUTE COMEDY MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE DESIGNER
THE ABSOLUTE DIRECTOR
THE ABSOLUTE DRINK MIXER
THE ABSOLUTE FLAGSHIP STORE
THE ABSOLUTE FURNITURE
THE ABSOLUTE GAY ICON
THE ABSOLUTE HAIRCUT
THE ABSOLUTE HORROR MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE IMAGE
THE ABSOLUTE JOB
THE ABSOLUTE JOURNALIST
THE ABSOLUTE KILLER HEELS
THE ABSOLUTE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
THE ABSOLUTE LOVE SONG
THE ABSOLUTE MOVIE KISS
THE ABSOLUTE MUSEUM
THE ABSOLUTE NOSE
THE ABSOLUTE ONLINE FILM CLIP
THE ABSOLUTE OPERATING SYSTEM
THE ABSOLUTE PAINTING
THE ABSOLUTE PLAY
THE ABSOLUTE PRE-DINNER DRINK
THE ABSOLUTE QUOTE
THE ABSOLUTE RESTAURANT
THE ABSOLUTE RETRO VIDEO GAME
THE ABSOLUTE ROMANTIC COMEDY
THE ABSOLUTE SIGNATURE SCENT
THE ABSOLUTE SITCOM
THE ABSOLUTE SOFTWARE
THE ABSOLUTE STREET
THE ABSOLUTE TECH DEAD END
THE ABSOLUTE TOILET POETRY
THE ABSOLUTE TYPEFACE
THE ABSOLUTE VICE
THE ABSOLUTE WEB BROWSER


THE ABSOLUTE BAND NAME
THE ABSOLUTE BAR
THE ABSOLUTE BURGER
THE ABSOLUTE CITY
THE ABSOLUTE COCKTAIL
THE ABSOLUTE COLLECTOR
THE ABSOLUTE COMEDIAN
THE ABSOLUTE CUISINE
THE ABSOLUTE DINER
THE ABSOLUTE DISPLAY WINDOW
THE ABSOLUTE EGO BOOSTER
THE ABSOLUTE FLOWER
THE ABSOLUTE GANGSTER FLICK
THE ABSOLUTE GIF BANNER
THE ABSOLUTE HOBBY
THE ABSOLUTE HOTEL
THE ABSOLUTE INVENTION
THE ABSOLUTE JOKE
THE ABSOLUTE JUICE
THE ABSOLUTE LIP PLUMPER
THE ABSOLUTE LONG DRINK
THE ABSOLUTE METAL BAND
THE ABSOLUTE MOVIE VILLAIN
THE ABSOLUTE MUSIC VIDEO
THE ABSOLUTE NOVEL
THE ABSOLUTE ONLINE GAME
THE ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
THE ABSOLUTE PICKUP LINE
THE ABSOLUTE PODCAST
THE ABSOLUTE PUBLIC ART
THE ABSOLUTE RECORD SLEEVE
THE ABSOLUTE RESTROOM
THE ABSOLUTE ROCK STAR
THE ABSOLUTE SCI-FI MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE SINGER/SONGWRITER
THE ABSOLUTE SNEAKER
THE ABSOLUTE SPAM
THE ABSOLUTE TATTOO
THE ABSOLUTE TECH GADGET
THE ABSOLUTE T-SHIRT PRINT
THE ABSOLUTE URBAN LEGEND
THE ABSOLUTE WALLPAPER
THE ABSOLUTE WRISTWATCH
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UPDATE (October 22, 2006)

Edelman have outed two more fake blogs for Wal-Mart. Also Wal-Mart have retired the smiley from their campaigns, now I am hoping that they will park their ridculous claim jumping efforts on the smiley as well.
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