My goal here on Marketing Roadmaps is to provide guidance and examples that will help my readers do social media “right.” That’s why I usually mask company, product and agency names from the bad pitch examples, and focus on the pitch, not the products.
From time to time, something crosses the transom that demands a different approach. I’ve got a couple for you today.
The first is for a new social network for kids. In my opinion, this one fails all around — pitch, product and PR. Here’s the pitch:
And here’s the product:
And here are the problems.
Let’s start with the pitch, which implies that this is a product for kids with references to Barney and the Wiggles. Yet, when you go to the site, it seems far more like a dating site for teens. The wiggles here aren’t the ones singing “Fruit Salad” if you know what I mean. Was this pitch slanted young to appeal to mom bloggers, even though the product clearly isn’t? That sort of deception is bad practice at best. Possibly unethical.
The product. BUUUZ. Sounds like “booze” which makes “message in the bottle” a questionable tagline. What sort of message in the bottle and just how much should we drink before we get the message?
More like spin the bottle….Do kids really need their own version of match.com? Or is it just one more fertile hunting ground for predators?
Now I can see how they ended up with the name. The domain name was available and someone fell in love with the logo and the idea of “UUU” create the buzz. But domain name availability and a graphic presentation are two of the WORST reasons for choosing a product name. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.
Because no matter how you spin it, and more on that in a minute, there’s no way “BUUUZ” is pronounced anything other than booze. It’s simple English grammar.
And that just doesn’t cut it for a site for kids. No matter how you choose to rationalize it.
As the PR flack did when one of the parent bloggers who received this pitch asked why they gave the site the name and tagline they did. A one line response, it completely dismissed the concerns and insulted the blogger. The email equivalent of Dan Aykroyd’s rejoinder in the early days of Saturday Night Live: “Jane you ignorant slut.”
Now, I can see why one might be defensive about BUUUZ. It can be tiring hopping around on one leg. But, responding to criticism in a hostile fashion is both rude and stupid. I hate to say it, given how strongly I believe in active engagement, but it would be better to just ignore the email and simply be considered rude.
This campaign is one that I definitely vote off the island. Bad pitch, questionable product and offensive PR. Three strikes. Out.
Our other example today is a an inauguration-related pitch. Sort of.
This program for Trident gum fails in a number of ways. First, it trivializes the change we celebrated on January 20th with President Obama’s inauguration. “Chomping for change?” Please.
Next, as I’ve commented before, campaigns that co-opt celebrities without their permission are distasteful. Don’t like ’em. Slimy.
Finally, think about what they’re asking people to do for a pack of gum. A 50 cent pack of gum. Seems like an awful lot of work for a single pack of gum.
It doesn’t say much for American culture that quite a few people did it, but that doesn’t make the campaign good. I didn’t see any coverage of this program on the 500+ blogs I read, including many parent blogs.
If you only remember a few things from what you read here, I hope you remember this:
- Respect the bloggers. Even if they occasionally piss you off, they are your customers. Even if they are wrong, they are right.
- Add value. Give bloggers a reason to write. A thin storyline and a pack of gum? Not so much.
I’ll have some more on how to add value in my next post.
Not only are these pitches terrible, but they feel like spam. I wouldn’t want my company represented this way.
What are your thoughts on pay-per-placement agencies like Publicity Guaranteed?
Susan Getgood says
Thanks for your comment Dan. I’m curious — are you a client or employee of Publicity Guaranteed? Just wondered.
As to my opinion of pay per placement, I don’t think it is any less broken than most traditional PR. It may be cheaper, but it isn’t any closer to paying for results than a retainer.
Results aren’t placement or clips or the ephemeral “awareness.” Results are leads. Conversions. Sales. When I was at my last corporate job, we maintained a healthy investment in PR because we could prove that when we did a major campaign, traffic to our website and leads spiked immediately afterward. Predictably, every time, and by about the same percentage.
Those are the kind of results we should be looking at.
Along Parker says
People’s opinion on what makes a good name vary. For example, Coca-Cola or “coke” doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, with the cocaine similarity and all…. But who’s to argue against such a corporate giant and well established trademark.
I personally thought BUUUZ was pronounced Buzz but that’s just me. When I think back to my childhood, I remember being excited about finding a long lost message in a bottle and I used to go on “adventures” along the beach trying to find one. I think the idea of using messages in a bottle is neat and the website name reminds me of “buzz marketing”. I don’t know if that’s what the creators had in mind but it seems to me like a good play on words.
I had a look at the website and I agree with their claim that it is a lot safer than Facebook, MySpace and all the other social networks out there that are filled with pedophiles looking to get at your kids.
Susan Getgood says
I have a sneaky suspicion that the comment above is a bit of astroturf.
What do you think readers?