Friday, April 26, 2013

Hyundai commits brand suicide

As a young ad writer, I created some pretty dumb commercials. I once proposed a campaign for a Chevrolet that used Imelda Marcos' shoe collection, the falling of the Berlin Wall, and the Tiananmen Square uprising as reasons for a year-end sale. 

But I never created anything this dumb.

Fortunately, I had a creative director who was smart enough to know that making light of others' suffering is not a great way to endear yourself to those you want to sell something.

Apparently no one at Innocean, Hyundai's European agency, got the message.

To be fair, Hyundai's American marketing arm quickly offered the following statement after this spot aired:
We at Hyundai Motor America are shocked and saddened by the depiction of a suicide attempt in an inappropriate European video featuring a Hyundai. Suicide merits thoughtful discussion, not this type of treatment.
You'd think it would be obvious, but after a string of incredibly tasteless ads, apparently it needs to be said. So as a public service to all the young creatives in the advertising industry, here's a list of just a few of insensitive and tasteless subjects in addition to suicide that should never be used as a foil for your message in an attempt to create a humorous ad:
  1. Murder
  2. Rape
  3. Child abuse
  4. Natural disasters
  5. Brutal oppression
  6. Torture
  7. Drunk driving
  8. Terrorism
Don't worry, that still leaves you plenty of stuff to make fun of. I hear David Hasselhoff is considering going on tour again.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hacking up a brand

It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt... or loses billions of dollars.

People used to talk about the web in utopian terms as a source of pure information, unfiltered by the biases of editorial boards in the news media. Then something like this happens.

Now it's a source of pure disinformation, spreading rumors, innuendos and lies faster than pictures of Anthony Weiner's weiner.

If you're not ready for this new world, too bad. It's here. Deal with it.
  1. If you have accounts monitor them constantly. As the AP hacking proved, waiting just a few minutes to react can be devastating.
  2. If you aren't on social media, monitor your brands to make sure no one is using your name in vain.
  3. Have a plan in place for when your accounts are compromised or a fake account is created in your name.
  4. Don't leave your social media efforts to interns. It must be in the hands of people you trust.
  5. While one person should be directing your social media efforts several should have access in case your primary contact is unavailable or – and yes, it happens – the source of the malfeasance.
Digital communications are powerful tools. They can be used to create great value for a company. But they can destroy your reputation even faster if they're not managed professionally. And even then, bad things happen.

Good luck. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's not the medium. It's the message.

There's a lot of fighting going on these days between social media activists, traditional media apologists and data geeks who can dig so deep into numbers they guarantee you'll strike it rich if you listen to them.

Here's the secret dirty little secret that none of them will tell you. The best media plan in the world is worthless if the creative is invisible.

Conversely, any medium that's seen or heard by the right person can be effective if it's carrying a great idea.

TV still works when you run spots like this.

Social media works when you create posts like this.

PR works when you create campaigns like this.

If you want to make sure your media dollars aren't being wasted, don't worry so much about where you're running and spend more time thinking about what you're running.