November 2008

Motrin and their ad agency Taxi have had their hands smacked pretty hard online recently over an online ad about Motrin and moms. There is some discussion online how the anti-ad campaign spread so quickly – and Twitter is getting some of the credit. Someone has also put up a video on YouTube that shows how mad the mommies are.

Ad Age has a good article on the issue and so does A-list blogger and social media guru Shel Holtz. They both have a bit of a different take on it. Ad Age talks about the power of Twitter and Shel looks more into the fact with online or social media, people that are passionate about a topic will find the time to be involved. Shel’s post is more about how we manage all of this information using the Motrin ad as an example. It’s definitely worth a read.

I think that each of the opinions of those listed above help to bring context to this story. Jennifer nails it when she says that Taxi, the US-based ad agency that produced this ad didn’t understand the market and maybe that is because after all, it’s only an online ad. Shel Holtz gives a whole different perspective and he made me think as well. And as for AD Age, they put this issue into context by talking about Twitter. While I am sure that Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Motrin, aren’t too happy about how quickly a story can spread online, the fact is, smart, engaged people now have the opportunity to weigh in and show us different angles. Professional journalists, bloggers and, in this case, moms have helped people all over the world to see a different side to this story.

The one thing everyone seems to have in common is that this ad insulted the target market (and I looked around, so if anyone can let me know if there are some people standing up for the ad – I would be interested to hear about it!).

As an organization, Johnson & Johnson is facing a strong consumer backlash and while it was bred online, it has gone mainstream. That’s not good for the company or the brand.  Online media now plays a strong role in the reputation of your organization, and it should be recognized and acknowledged. Online media is evolving and shifting how we live in our world, and more and more it impacts our professional lives.

 

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Obama understands the power of online communication – and I don’t mean because he understands how to use twitter and LinkedIN and Facebook. He gets when and why to use it…he connects. He has conversations that are inclusive and engaging and they make each of us – even if we aren’t American – feel like we are a part of something special, something historic, and something real. By including us, he also makes us feel accountable, responsible and engaged. We now feel that we need to step up and do our part to change the world.

Once the election was over, I have to admit, I wondered what was going to happen to Obama’s web-values approach to keeping us on the team. As President Elect, he is now developing the strategy to transition into President. And as President, things change. According to a New York Times piece, he is going to have to give up his BlackBerry thanks to security issues and the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the record and ultimately up for public review.

I wondered how Obama would hold onto his story telling, inclusive, engaging approach that has inspired and excited not just a nation, but people around the world. Could he breakdown the barriers between old school U.S. government websites and the Obama way of Twitter, email and text messages? I have to admit, I had my doubts.

I shouldn’t have worried. Right after the election he launched a new site, that has all of the tone and feel of his old site, which now has a holding page that asks you to help the victims of the wildfires in California.

Obama built up a loyal following – a community, a tribe, a movement…whatever you call it, it’s obvious that being elected President of the United States of America doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to keep up the relationship. Obama is an exceptional example of a communicator. The Web was made for him.

It will be interesting to see what the YouTube loving President Elect does for online media while in office. I think the fact that he has embraced it and found success in using it, will help more organizations to see the value in it.

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The subject of the U.S. Government bailing out the big three automakers is controversial. While facing a crisis, the GM Fast Lane blog is doing something interesting. They are blogging and asking for support. This is an active blog and there are many response posts. They are worth checking out.

According to GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who is credited with launching the blog in 2005, is using the blog. GM is attempting to wrangle all the criticism, critiques and praise in one convenient place. Here, executives can address problems, learn from the critiques and speak directly to customers.

It is interesting to note that while the blog wasn’t created to deal with issues or a crisis, this isn’t the first time that Lutz has used the blog and spoken directly with consumers. Earlier this year, it was reported that he said that Global warming is a total crock of %$Z@.

When that statement hit the blogosphere, it created quite a storm. Lutz responded onFastLane and addressed the controversy directly.

Whatever you think about Lutz and his take on global warming or his decisions to say whatever he thinks, it is clear that the FastLane blog has provide Lutz and GM with the opportunity to expand, clarify and, in this case, support quotes being put out by mainstream media and the blogosphere. The FastLane blog has a huge following and agree or not, anyone who wanted to could hear directly from Lutz and tell him what they thought. (Interestingly enough, he got support on the global warming blog post.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that he has been consistent and proactive in posting to the GM blog. He didn’t just show up when he saw the blog storm coming. He had built a conversation with people who wanted to speak with him and he could then reach out when this happened to put forward his side of things. 

 

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An announcement just hit my inbox that Air Canada is the first Canadian carrier to offer inflight Internet access.

The news release was out in early Oct, but Air Canada just announced it in their newsletter.

I think this says something about our culture. We are truly a wireless, connected society now. Thanks to Air Canada, we can still bid on Ebay, blog, buy books from Amazon and send emails while flying the friendly skies.

I can remember back in the day when you could first place phone calls on an airplane – at an incredible cost per minute! The first thing you heard someone say (and I admit it, I said it too) when the person answered was: “Guess where I’m calling from!” …. now it might be guess where I’m blogging from!

As minor a thing as this might seem, it does change how we travel.

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