Great post (sent to me by Jeff Blankenburg) called "Coke and the Ego Fog" over on Church of the Customer today. It's a collection of riffs on Coke for their ridiculous foray into the consumer-generated media world, hit-and-miss functionality, and old-school Flash interface. W + K takes a few jabs for its complicity in the whole mess... but, I wonder how much control they really have? When your client makes a couple billion a year and is to all appearances unstoppable, no matter how inane the advertising and marketing gets, just how much strategic advice are they really looking to the agency for?
This is how I picture a meeting between Big Agency and Big Client on New Media:
Client who was promoted to his level of incompetency some time ago and has a love-blame relationship with the agency: We need to do something new, something fresh – why aren’t we on myspace or dogster? Why aren’t people visiting our site every day for the fun and entertainment?
[Frazzled account person, thinking to herself, and worrying that she might accidentally say something true out loud: Gee, could that be because you have wildly unrealistic expectations and no consumer anywhere goes to ANY corporate Web site every day to do anything???]
Agency account planner who has a “new media definitions cheat sheet” that she clipped out of Ad Week folded in her wallet: Well, I was thinking that we could try some “user generated media” – that means we would ask consumers to send in their own videos or art projects or commercials. They could really talk about how they experience the brand. Like a community.
Scathing new hire who believes she represents the entirety of consumer America, presently twirling her stick-straight blond hair around her French-manicured index finger: That would never work. People have better things to do than make videos about Cola. Duh.
The condescending senior VP who believes he’s seen it all and that every idea you have, he had a decade ago: Oh, that’s not new, we’ve been doing that since housewives mailed in jingles.
The token anonymous manager who invests the entire meeting thinking of frivolous objections to prove he’s smarter than everyone else: Well, most people don’t even HAVE video cameras and I don’t see how that would work at all for people who have dial-up Internet accounts.
Worthless-in-a-meeting programmer who has three job offers in his pocket and probably wouldn’t have cared even if he didn’t: Uh, lady, when you built this behemoth of a site in clunky 5.0 Flash and action scripted every pixel of it, the ship pretty well sailed on any dial-up user so much as loading the homepage. 1010101010101001. Y’know?
[Frazzled account person, thinking to herself, and worrying that she might accidentally say something true out loud: Fuck. Is this really happening? What the hell am I doing in this industry? I wonder if our health plan covers Valium. Do they still make Valium?]
The new CMO who works on gut instinct and a short attention span, who makes seat-of-the-pants decisions with little or no information and holds the agency accountable for not giving him all the details when the ill-conceived projects bomb: Ok, ok, I’ve heard enough. Here’s what we’ll do – customers will send in videos of how their dogs experience Cola. We’ll advertise on Friendster and Myspace. And, we’ll give away two Labrador pups to the winner – maybe a guest appearance at that big dog show my wife is always talking about – Westchester, or whatever.
Frazzled account person, regretting even trying to control the situation even as she speaks: Maybe we should dig into the latest trends in consumer media – maybe even pilot a quick test or focus group to determine if this type of challenge is really a good fit with our customer.
CMO: Nah, it’s done. Make it happen.
Frazzled account person, thinking about her first drink and her next job: Ok, I’ll send a brief and an estimate and we can get started.