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02/09/2011 The More Things Change

Has anyone missed the role social media, specifically Facebook, played in igniting the revolts in Northern Africa to overturn the status quo? In the U.S., on the other hand, 115 million of us were stuck glued to the Super Bowl waiting for those new TV ads that would connect the traditional to the social. At least, that’s what we were told. What we saw was the same old, same old commercials. It was as if the growth of social marketing over the past few years never happened.

What we got, instead, were the ads posted on YouTube. We got a lot of Twitter chatter about the ads. We got Brand Bowl, which measured the Twitter chatter about the ads on TV (and YouTube).

Meaningful social connection? Nope.

Something for people to do, once they finished watching? Nope (except buying of course).

Some problem to solve, some cause to engage in? Nope (not even Tibet!).

Any type of personal connection to be made? Nope.

Few even tried telling stories. It’s kind of amazing that Chrysler, with its story of Detroit, never connected the ad with all of the things actually going on in Detroit. Or a co-plug for Lemonade Detroit, at least.

Last year’s news was that Pepsi wasn’t running Super Bowl ads when it decided to put its money into social media instead. We expected that trend to amplify, not diminish. So what happened?

What happened is that things aren’t changing as fast as many of us want to. What’s happening is that traditional brands and agencies haven’t cracked the social nut on delivering expected results (whatever those are). They’ve tried some social media but still think that transforming the way we communicate with people is too hard and demands too much change.

My one prediction for 2011 was that we have the really hard work in front of us this year for social marketing. Brands have dabbled without committing. That was the easy part. Imbuing social into a brands DNA is extremely hard.

Looking at this year’s Super Bowl ads it feels like a lot of people gave up and took the easy way out.  One might imagine a medium that can help overturn calcified oligarchs in Tunisia and, hopefully, Egypt would inspire U.S. businesses to think differently about how they operate.

This year things stayed the same. Luckily, I grew up in the household of an old Brooklyn Dodger’s fan. There’s hard work ahead, but wait until next year!



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