May 30, 2014

Cheesegate: It Just Won't Die

I don't usually post on Friday. But the geniuses responsible for Cheesegate refuse to shut up and just let it go away. And you know me, I'm here to help.

Let's recap our story so far:

The Players
Président Cheese - A brand of chéese
Huge - An agency
Business Insider - A tweet machine disguised as a business website
Digiday - A conference machine disguised as a business website
The Drum - "Media Brand Of The Year," whatever the fuck that means
The Ad Contrarian - Media Brand Of The Century. And a searcher after truth, piling up all kinds of clicks by milking this story well beyond its sell-by date
Social Media - Tens of millions of disagreeable people looking to make trouble

Our Story So Far
On May 24, Business Insider (hereafter known as BI) ran a puff piece by a so-called reporter singing the praises of Huge's fabulous social media expertise and particularly how "13 social-media and advertising specialists" were pressed into service to create a Twitter campaign for Président Camembert.

A clever editor at BI, sensing the gold in the story (which the clueless reporter whiffed on) titled the piece We Got A Look Inside The 45-Day Planning Process That Goes Into Creating A Single Corporate Tweet.

Soon the story went from a thinly disguised PR job to a social media nightmare as the cheese hit the fan and the story blew up all over the web's murky marketing basement.

At this point, enter Digiday. Digiday stepped in to run a piece defending the agency and implying that what was really going on was:
1. BI's story was irresponsible. 
2. The process didn't really take 45 days
3. Social media haters were licking their chops over this story and ganging up on the poor agency
Simultaneously, the agency went on a tweet-a-thon, repeating the same messages as their pals at Digiday. You can see some their tweets here.

Okay, fair enough.

Everyone had their say. We all got a few thousand extra hits to our sites; the cheese tweet finally got noticed; the agency got some publicity; and everyone had a few laughs.

But then the Donald Sterling effect reared its ugly head. You see, people who screw up have a compulsion to make things worse by trying to justify their screw-up. So here comes the agency's planning director to the rescue. He wrote a piece for The Drum which you can read here.

In the piece he did a little switcheroo and played it like the BI article claimed it had taken  45 days to write the tweet... 
"Of course it doesn't take 45 days to write a Tweet."  
The BI piece said no such thing. It made it very clear that the 45 days included creative development, planning, meetings, internal reviews, and whatever other useless bullshit the agency could bill the client for.

He then went on to defend their planning process...
"As social has grown from a discipline emerging from the sidelines into a core pillar of the wider digital landscape, it also benefits from the increased professionalism behind the approach.
Really? Here's the thing. When the fruits of your "discipline emerging from the sidelines" get zero retweets and two favorites after almost a month, maybe it's better to save the baloney about "increased professionalism behind the approach" for another day.

Next, he couldn't help taking his shots at social media's mortal enemies -- the nasty devils who aren't afraid to call social media "experts" on their bullshit.

He pointlessly quotes one commenter, "This is an example of everything wrong in the world" then takes a lame shot at traditional advertising " another life, I did once spend four hours in a meeting debating Captain Birdseye's tone of voice. But that was for an ad, so it's fine."


Look, I'm hoping this story never ends because it's rare to find a story that's both a laugh riot and a click magnet. But, honestly, you don't spend time in the agency business without eventually screwing something up royally. We've all done it. Everyone understands it.

So because I love all my children, here's some free advice for the agency -- quit the whining and take your medicine.

Issue the following statement:
Sometimes process can be the enemy of progress. We've learned something from this and are streamlining everything we do.
Then do yourself a favor. Shut the fuck up.


LudditeRage said...

Loving the rage as usual but you're turning into a bit of a parody of yourself. If you're not careful you'll wake up one day and realise that you've turned into Jim Cramer. Then again I'd probably be up for seeing you smash stuff with baseball bats on YouTube.

How many more pieces on this are we gonna see? Have you got a new book launch coming up?

Casper Pesky said...

More of this please. I've just got myself a whole new sport of going to the shop and lauging at cheese. When we get enough rules to turn it into a World Cup, remember where it started.

Casper Pesky said...

Rule 1 - if somebody standing next to you notices that you are laughing without the h, you get awarded a goal.


Curious if they'll sell more cheese because of this. I'm sure that was never Huge's intention. They likely wanted to create a conversation. And they did. Only it was about them and not cheese. Maybe that was their plan all along? Eh, whatever. F%$# soft cheeses.

Shanghai61 said...

Like an over-ripe Camembert, this one will run and run ...

Shanghai61 said...

Rule 2 - No off-side laws

Jim Powell said...

I've sat in PR meetings where the chit-chat has lasted 4 hours.