Screw Up, Marketers, and This Pantsless Man Will Out You
Independently wealthy from the fame of the “Instant No Button,” a Web page millions visit to hear Darth Vader’s “nooooo” in “dire situations,” Scott Stratten was lounging around at home in Toronto sans pants and decided to kill time by taking a look at app rankings. Facebook, of course, was the No. 1 download. The others weren’t all that much of a surprise, either, except for one: Bell Canada had top customer reviews, which he thought was odd for a payment app.
Turning to his wife, he remarked upon this. Then, like any good pantsless Canadian man who is the president of Un-Marketing would do, he delved into the payment app’s customer reviews. Deciding to investigate this rather than don trousers made all of the difference, he told an audience of 1,200 marketers from 22 countries assembled in an auditorium in Vancouver for his keynote address. He matched up the marketing speak in the customer reviews with LinkedIn profiles of Bell executives and outed them in a blog post as astroturfers, he told attendees of Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference.
What he did mattered, Stratten said, because marketers need to have scruples.
Because of a blog post he wrote outing the Bell executives, Canadian officials ordered employees to undergo ethics training and the company got fined $1.25 million.
“Integrity is not a renewable resource,” Stratten said.
Even though he makes his money by keynoting, Stratten said he does understand marketers’ issues with “the overwhelm” — or the immense numbers of marketing channels, technologies and real-time deadlines coming at them. Despite that, he said, marketers need to understand that the people they’re marketing to are still human — even though they research and buy products differently. It’s just the terminology that’s changed, not the consumers. Paying an influencer is really just a sponsorship with new words.
A couple of the worst things to happen to marketing are the Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl blackout and the @Wendys snark, because now all marketers are trying to imitate that and they may just not be that smart or that funny, Stratten said. In the end, no marketer can successfully promote a lousy product. If Oreos were disgusting or Wendy’s hamburgers foul, none of the marketing would matter, he said.
“We don’t always have to offend to attract,” Stratten said of marketers trying to imitate @Wendys.
At least one did snark well.
Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car.
— Clayton Hove (@adtothebone) June 17, 2012
— Official smart USA (@smartcarusa) June 19, 2012
So marketers need to think before they newsjack or try to be first to the marketing table. For instance, he’s taken down a mattress company for its tasteless post-9/11 commercial. Literally, the company is out of business.
“You can’t put the toothpaste back,” Stratten said.
Marketers need to remember their brands have to stand for their morals and ethics, and ask themselves first if what they’re doing is right.
“We need to put journalism back in our world,” Stratten said. “We need to be right first.”
After all, the world is watching. Just like Stratten was with Bell, where the incident moved from a viral blog post to governmental consequences.
“I did all this without wearing pants,” he concludes.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.