May 29, 2014

Cheese Tweet Damage Control

Cheesegate -- the now legendary (yesterday it was only "soon-to-be-legendary") 45-Day Cheese Tweet holocaust -- is now turning into a Marx Brothers farce.

Everyone involved is tripping in their underwear trying to claim that the story in Business Insider was either false, sensationalistic, or no big deal. Anyone who even touched this thing looks like an idiot (fortunately, I'm already officially recognized as an idiot, so WTF.)

Social media has once again proven that companies wading into it are as likely to get covered in poop as glory. The agency responsible for this mess is now in full-blown damage control mode.

First, they got someone at Digiday to write an apologia claiming that Business Insider got the story all wrong.

The lead in the Digiday story went like this
"When cynicism about corporate social media accounts meets the click-hungry Web, we end up with stories like this one..."
Cynicism? Not only was the Business Insider story not cynical, it was one of the most jaw-droppingly naive and wide-eyed PR softballs ever served up to a bunch of nitwits.

If anything is cynical, it's Digiday's bitch fight with BI. First, they are apparently all light-headed and stricken with the vapors because an online site engaged in click baiting. Someone call the integrity police.

Then their article notes that the original BI story implied that 13 people were at some meeting but in reality only 4 people attended it. Big fucking deal. They use this trivial error try to undermine the credibility of the whole story.

According to Digiday, a VP at the agency said...
“Business Insider tore a page from the British tabloids, and it reflected a lot of the cynicism that people have about social media,” she said. “We can all agree it does not take 45 days to write a tweet.”
Really? Then tell us clearly, exactly how long did this thing take? You want to discredit the story, be specific. According to one of your agency people "about one-third of (the agency's) social-media posts are planned in this fashion..." Is he full of shit or is the reporter? Or are you?

But the icing on this dung-cake is the way the agency has handled it. First, they foolishly invited a reporter into the clown act that is a social media "war room" hoping they would get a little PR treasure. Instead, they got a turd sandwich.

Now they're social media-ing their little tushies off trying to de-fuse the story. Here are a couple of examples:

From the examples above, we can see that producing a tweet doesn't always seem to require...
  • 45 billable days
  •  a copywriter and graphic designer to brainstorm tweet ideas
  • a pitch team meeting with a social media expert, a copywriter, a designer team, and a project manager.
  • an internal review, where senior copywriters and strategists sign off on the work over the course of a week
Unless, of course, some dumb-ass client is paying for it.


Roger Maltbie Pitts said...

Wow...just think how much better it would have been if they had more time....the pressure today is unbearable.

Edmund Hershberger said...

The fact of the matter is that it very well may (and perhaps should!) take 45 days to develop a campaign strategy. Doing the necessary research in order to identify an appropriate audience, establish useful and strategic communication objectives, craft a relevant, original, and impactful essential message, and drafting a communications brief to codify all of these decisions does take time. It is very likely that this tweet was one message of many to come, and in fact I believe the BI story implied this very thing. So it technically DID take 45 days to write a tweet. But it's not like that 45 days ONLY resulted in that tweet, and the next one will take another 45 days. It's sloppy, sensationalist reporting by someone who either doesn't know or doesn't care how creative happens.

bob hoffman said...

Really, professor? Well tell me this, what was the "relevant, original, and impactful essential message" of that idiotic tweet? Give me a break.

Edmund Hershberger said...

To be clear, I'm not claiming that the tweet itself is a "good" brand communication. I'm simply putting it in the context of what it hopefully is: ONE tiny piece of a larger campaign. My guess is that the essential message is something like "cheese is a classy, social food that should be a part of your social life." That can be communicated in a variety of ways, across a variety of media.

Also, I hope you don't think that my comment about "reporting by someone who either doesn't know or doesn't care" was about your reporting. I was referring to the BI piece. I have a high degree of respect for (most of) your philosophies about social and other media's use in marketing.

bob hoffman said...

Sorry I was snippy. Bad day.

While I agree that strategy is an essential part of advertising, I don't see anything in the tweet in question that reflects a strategic insight a bright 12-year old couldn't come up with in 15 minutes.

I saw this all the time in the agency business -- stupidity and incompetence justified by "process."

Mark Hill said...

Nah. I agree with snippy.