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My team worked for months on this post.
May 27, 2014 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become increasingly crowded with branded accounts seeking their attention. Every few seconds, your favorite brands are tweeting at you. But what most people don't know is how much time and effort goes into curating these accounts, writing tweets, and filling your news feed with content people actually want to see. For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, approve, and publish a corporate social media post. The story of Huge Inc. and President Cheese.
posted by Horace Rumpole (162 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just read this about an hour ago. It took massive restraint to avoid throwing my phone at my laptop and dumping both in the nearest canal.

Obligatory Bill Hicks comment
posted by nevercalm at 7:07 AM on May 27 [16 favorites]


For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, approve, and publish a corporate social media post.

And it only takes me 17 seconds to mock them!
posted by eriko at 7:08 AM on May 27 [45 favorites]


Oh, and TL;DR: 2 favorites, no retweets.
posted by nevercalm at 7:08 AM on May 27 [9 favorites]


Horace Rumpole: "For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, approve, and publish a corporate social media post. "

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

My company does social media work. It should not take 13 experts to create a freakin' social media post. If it did, nothing would ever get done. They are spending way too many manhours on something that is ephemeral, and they need to streamline the approval process drastically.
posted by zarq at 7:10 AM on May 27 [10 favorites]


This crowded free-for-all for eyeballs is the driving factor for an entire industry of social media professionals, a group of internet-savvy, primarily young people charged with mastering media that are so new that their clients are still clueless enough to pay them huge money for taking 45 days to type 140 characters into a phone.
posted by flabdablet at 7:12 AM on May 27 [10 favorites]


Poor President Cheese. 111 Twitter followers. Huge isn't even pretending to do anything for this brand. President's president's 9-year-old could do better.... oh, wait, the mocking Business Insider piece is the marketing strategy!
posted by Scram at 7:15 AM on May 27 [9 favorites]


It should not take 13 experts to create a freakin' social media post. If it did, nothing would ever get done.

That would be fine with me.
posted by Longtime Listener at 7:16 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Is social media person a new word for someone who works in an advertising agency (or otherwise does PR)? These are the Peggys and Sals and Stans and Michaels of the 2010s right?
posted by bonehead at 7:18 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Thus far, the post has yet to be retweeted, but it has generated two favorites.

posted by BeerFilter at 7:18 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


They need to fire all 13 people and just hire Applebee's Barrie.
posted by kmz at 7:19 AM on May 27 [7 favorites]


And I thought metafilter over thought things.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:20 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


flabdablet: "a group of internet-savvy, primarily young people charged with mastering media that are so new, their bosses are still clueless enough to pay them huge money for typing 140 characters into a phone."

The thing is, managing a large corporate presence on a social media platform like Facebook can be complex. Especially for companies that provide products, not just services. Even experts can get it wrong, and of course there's no accounting for stupidity.

The knowledge gap is a definite problem. So is the tenuous nature of "success" when it comes to marketing or crisis management on social media, which is less predictable than old-school public relations.

Longtime Listener: "That would be fine with me."

One of the advantages social media can give to consumers is an increase in corporate responsiveness and transparency. Companies not only tend to pay more attention to shifting perceptions of their reputation, but place a lot more weight on how small interactions with their customers can affect sales. Obviously this isn't a universal thing, but companies holding themselves more accountable to the people that use their products and services is a net positive.
posted by zarq at 7:26 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


In their defense, it took me and my team of lawyers, writers, editors, and project managers six months to compose and publish this comment, so I think they're doing better than average.
posted by dr.flakenstein at 7:27 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


THIS is why we can't have nice things.

I honestly believe advertising and marketing will eventually be seen to be as toxic to our mental health as smoking is to our physical.
posted by fullerine at 7:28 AM on May 27 [39 favorites]


You can mock, but this is what advertising looks like in 2014. The audience used to be sitting patiently in front of you waiting to be communicated to. Now they're still in front of you, but they're all communicating madly with each other on dozens of platforms and they have the attention span of hummingbirds.

Advertisers who aren't strategizing and creating a snowstorm of ephemeral thoughtlets to get their brand into this cacaphony are guilty of malpractice.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:29 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


I used to work in a Big Corporate Job and write/send press releases for them. My approval chain was literally 10-20 people depending on the thing in question, so it could take 2-3 weeks to get a release approved. Even better, everyone would naturally make changes so they'd felt like they'd done something, so when I got it back, it would frequently be unintelligible gibberish. But it was either send the gibberish (and we'd inevitably be mere hours from needing the release) or running it back through all the approvals again. Which is why you get releases full of babbling corporate-ese in the end.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:30 AM on May 27 [17 favorites]


100 Twitter followers and 220 Facebook fans.

With a team of 13 and 45 days, they could have personally delivered a wheel of room-temperature camembert to each of these people, and probably still had a few bucks left over to throw at someone's teenager to tweet about it.
posted by googly at 7:30 AM on May 27 [23 favorites]


zarq and stupidsexyFlanders work at Huge Inc., pass it on
posted by slater at 7:30 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Every few seconds, your favorite brands are tweeting at you.

I still can't wrap my head around the fact that people actually Favorite a commercial entity or brand.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:32 AM on May 27 [14 favorites]


The B-Ark is getting mighty crowded.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:33 AM on May 27 [38 favorites]


Which is why you get releases full of babbling corporate-ese in the end

Fortunately, no one has ever actually bothered to read a whole corporate press release, so it really didn't matter.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


I still can't wrap my head around the fact that people actually Favorite a commercial entity or brand.

By and large, actual consumers don't - brands/agencies pay people in click farms on the other side of the world to do that. The 'likes' are sold by the thousand.
posted by colie at 7:35 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


My company does social media work. It should not take 13 experts to create a freakin' social media post. If it did, nothing would ever get done. They are spending way too many manhours on something that is ephemeral, and they need to streamline the approval process drastically.

But it explains so much. The fear, the lack of ingenuity, the obsession over trivialities and wasting resources on absolute nonsense while letting your products or services slide because you think social media is just going to magically bring in customers.

Sorry, you have to work, not issue decrees by committee to make a business thrive...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:37 AM on May 27 [6 favorites]


If a company I've never heard of, with a product that I don't want and wouldn't buy, wants to waste money on "social media and advertising 'experts'" I see no reason why they shouldn't. It will only hasten their inevitable and well-deserved demise.
posted by tommasz at 7:38 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


I get there's a value add here, but what's the ROI on this versus having an intern post "What kind of cheese do you like best? #Huge #CourseCredit" three times a week and letting customer interactions go through standard support channels?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:39 AM on May 27


Looking at the people in my surroundings who are social media experts, I think it's good that this sort of job exists to keep them distracted and stop them from interfering with things that matter.
posted by dhoe at 7:40 AM on May 27 [17 favorites]


The vast bulk of work in the advertising business has always been closer to this kind of thing than it has been to Don Draper presenting the Kodak pitch. Before Twitter clients were always going on about coupons.
posted by colie at 7:40 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Overthinking a wheel of cheese?

You might say that tweet is well-aged.

Cheeseplatin' (that could become a thing. Cheeseplatin')

"At body temperature the Camembert is runnier, but still plenty cloggy. @PresidentArteryHealth"

Cheesesplaining @Cheesesplainer-in-Chief
posted by notyou at 7:41 AM on May 27


#Cheezus
posted by colie at 7:42 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but Ghostride the Whip, there's a huge difference between a press release and a tweet. Press releases I write for say, a product company, have to be approved by:

R&D, regarding the proper use and tech specs of said product
Marketing, to make sure that the language and descriptions being used mesh with the presentation they are creating for a given product or brand
Legal, (possibly) to make sure that no inappropriate claims are being made which might get them in trouble with the FDA, or that could be misinterpreted by consumers, or step on the toes of any competitors, etc.
Anyone quoted, to make sure they don't feel they're being misrepresented
The PR Team (including a copyeditor), to ensure that the release is reviewed and cleared by people who write them for a living and will hopefully notice any problems.

Tweets aren't and shouldn't be subject to the same intense / complex review and approval process. They should mostly use pre-approved language, etc.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


slater: "zarq and stupidsexyFlanders work at Huge Inc., pass it on"

BUY N' LARGE
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on May 27


It took 44 days to convince President Cheese that there were human beings in the world who would eat a cold Camembert. The tweet was the easy part.
posted by idlewords at 7:45 AM on May 27 [7 favorites]


I honestly believe advertising and marketing will eventually be seen to be as toxic to our mental health as smoking is to our physical.

Maybe but it sometimes serves an important purpose in communicating how to find something that you want.
posted by josher71 at 7:47 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I really, really expected this it be a link to an Onion article. Oy.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:50 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Maybe but it sometimes serves an important purpose in communicating how to find something that you want.

How are search engines not up to the task of helping people find things they want?
posted by Jpfed at 7:54 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Advertisers who aren't strategizing and creating a snowstorm of ephemeral thoughtlets ... are guilty of malpractice.

You criticize these advertisers, but it's a catch-22. The best way to create a snowstorm of ephemeral thoughtlets is to run a frozen brain through a snow-making machine. These days, you can't have an advertising best practice without medical malpractice.
posted by compartment at 7:54 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Poor President Cheese.

Jesus, that's disrespectful. His name is Obama.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:59 AM on May 27 [19 favorites]


Am I the only person who got President Cheese confused with Mayor McCheese for a second there? I thought maybe he'd advanced in his political career.
posted by missrachael at 7:59 AM on May 27 [18 favorites]




How are search engines not up to the task of helping people find things they want?

Yeah, about that....
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 AM on May 27 [6 favorites]


Who the f*ck follows corporate Twitter accounts besides employees, shills, and robots?
posted by furtive at 8:01 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


I may or may not have had a 2 hour meeting recently to debate the "correctness" of using NY v. New York in a tweet.

When you work in an institution with a public affairs office that thinks of Twitter as just a shorter press release, rather than a way of highlighting interesting things, it's very difficult to craft interesting tweets that don't get the fun totally sucked out of them.

Then again, I understand that a simple keystroke can create a tweet that will do a massive amount of harm to our brand and institution. But still...at some point you just want to say, look, let's just not do this thing. Let's just stick with the traditional methods that you're comfortable with.

Cause my life needs less 2 hour meetings.
posted by teleri025 at 8:02 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Who the f*ck follows corporate Twitter accounts besides employees, shills, and robots?

Often children who want to win things by retweeting... companies woo them knowing this relationship is usually well outside of advertising regulations.
posted by colie at 8:04 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


How are search engines not up to the task of helping people find things they want?

Say I'm headed to a baseball game and I want to get a beer beforehand and I'm walking around looking for one. A sign saying "Cheap Beer Here!" would be helpful advertising.
posted by josher71 at 8:04 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, approve, and publish a corporate social media post.

The key word here is "can". I've seen completely ridiculous turn around times or meeting plans in some corporate structures. Others, are much more reasonable, but most things usually have to be signed off by a higher up of some sort.

A team of 13 taking 45 days to write a single Tweet is completely fucking insane.
Thus far, the post has yet to be retweeted, but it has generated two favorites.
Yeah, completely insane.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Inevitably, the tweet now has 91 retweets and 600+ favorites.
posted by grahamparks at 8:07 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Who the f*ck follows corporate Twitter accounts besides employees, shills, and robots?

I followed a corporate Twitter account after I complained about the company on twitter (not @ them, just about them) and they responded within a half-hour wanting to help solve my problem and wanted to take the conversation to DM because it was going to require giving out some personal information for them to use. Within an hour of my initial tweet, my issues had been solved and my monthly bill actually decreased with a simultaneous upgrade in the service I was receiving.

They don't actually tweet anything about their brand; I've never seen anything from them appear in my timeline. They only use twitter to solve consumer complaint issues by communicating directly with people who are having issues with their service and talking about it publicly.

That seems to be a perfectly good use of twitter, and is a pretty savvy way to nip bad word-of-mouth in the bud.
posted by hippybear at 8:11 AM on May 27 [30 favorites]


"community manger" is kind of an odd job title
posted by XMLicious at 8:12 AM on May 27


Yeah, the more I think about this, I think we got played. This is a submarine, isn't it? That's it, I'm blocking businessinsider.com in my hosts file for ever after.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:13 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, approve, and publish a corporate social media post.

Government is inefficient compared to the private sector.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:15 AM on May 27 [20 favorites]


Their latest tweet:

"@presidentcheese: While our Camembert may take 45 days to age, this tweet certainly didn’t!"
posted by pixie at 8:22 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: The best way to create a snowstorm of ephemeral thoughtlets is to run a frozen brain through a snow-making machine.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:22 AM on May 27


I wish it only took 13 people and 45 days to write three bullet points. More like six months and dozens of pairs of hands, all holding approval pens.
posted by bonehead at 8:23 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]



Is social media person a new word for someone who works in an advertising agency (or otherwise does PR)? These are the Peggys and Sals and Stans and Michaels of the 2010s right?


No, not at all. Peggys and Sals and Stans and Michaels are still writing and designing TV commercials, print, radio, and digital campaigns (websites, apps, mobile/digital ads).

Social media managers do manage brands' online presence though. It's a totally different job.

I work at an advertising agency, though not Huge, but I know a ton of people who work at Huge (as programmers, designers, and project managers/producers).
posted by sweetkid at 8:24 AM on May 27


How much of that large team is a result of corporate too-many-cooks philosophies? Could the same thing be accomplished just as effectively in a far more efficient manner? I'd guess yes in many situations.
posted by jwebb117 at 8:28 AM on May 27


Talk about an expense of spirit in a waste of shame. I understand capitalism, I understand why this is, like, a career (although I hope all those kids get benefits and aren't just contractors) but jesus god, shilling for a corporation in tightly-crafted 140-character bursts? That's your life? 24-7 working for....camembert? Mediocre camembert? So cheap and real phony, indeed.
posted by Frowner at 8:28 AM on May 27 [7 favorites]


jwebb117, the article says "Cunningham said that about one-third of Huge's social media posts are planned in this fashion with the rest being written on the fly. The exception to this rule is TD Ameritrade, which as a banking brand has a much stricter approval process."

So there's definite variation in how tweets are handled, and how much goes into them.
posted by zarq at 8:33 AM on May 27


I hope all those kids get benefits and aren't just contractors

With regard to these type of jobs in London, I can assure you that zero benefits will be had by anyone in this kind of job, unless you count a couple of free croissants and beers a week.

But when you're 22 it can be a lot of fun, compared to trying to be a dentist or something worthwhile.
posted by colie at 8:36 AM on May 27


I wonder how many hours got spent planning #CheersToSochi and #myNYPD and all wasted. It seems that nowhere in the hours of planning is there much contingency planning for a backfire. I guess that's being a negative defeatist and not a team player.
posted by tyllwin at 8:42 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


I think this supports my theory that whatever is emerging or, fine, evolving in this new media/communication/data space is not really about individual humans but something at a different and larger scale. The people in this story (the marketers, their readers, and the reader of the article) feel more like vessels or mechanisms or cellular components. I don't mean that in some dismissive way, I just see the internet and the modern socio-economic world that way more and more, and this felt like it confirmed this view somehow.
posted by freebird at 8:50 AM on May 27 [6 favorites]


hippybear:
They only use twitter to solve consumer complaint issues by communicating directly with people who are having issues with their service and talking about it publicly.
So, in other words, instead of having a decent service in the first place, or having decent customer service, they conserve their resources by responding only to public shaming in unrelated forums.

Great. Glad they're doing so well.
posted by Hizonner at 8:52 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


So, in other words, instead of having a decent service in the first place, or having decent customer service, they conserve their resources by responding only to public shaming in unrelated forums.

That's not actually what went down, but if that's the narrative you want to construct around my very barebones summary of the experience to shore up your sense of superiority, you're welcome to run with it.
posted by hippybear at 8:55 AM on May 27 [15 favorites]


I'm a social media manager (among other things). Unlike these folks, I'm in-house, meaning I do the social media solely for the company I work for. This makes my job much easier. I'm trusted to understand the brand and our audience, since I've worked here for 10 years. For better or worse, most of my colleagues are not very connected to the internet, so while I am expected to report broad metrics, people aren't overanalyzing every tweet. And we're not a consumer brand, so there's no unrealistic expectation of hundreds of favorites and retweets.

To answer the question about why you might follow my company on twitter, well, if our services are relevant to you and your profession, twitter is where you'd learn a new article was posted on our blog, a new publication was available (possibly for free), registration for a webinar or live event was open, etc. I personally don't tend to follow companies on social media, but I can understand why people do.

Facebook is a total loss at this point, with their news feed algorithm so useless that only a few hundred out of my thousands of FB fans even get served any given status update. They want us to pay to promote posts, which sucks because promoted posts don't just go to your fans, they go to people who haven't liked your page too. Great for companies (IF they have the budget for it - if you're a small business or use FB as your promotion for your volunteer group/labor of love, you're fucked), great for Facebook ($$$), not so great for the average Facebook user. Facebook is IMO completely broken for users AND companies.
posted by misskaz at 8:57 AM on May 27 [20 favorites]


P.S. I totally thought this was satire too. I couldn't imagine working like that.
posted by misskaz at 8:58 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I honestly believe advertising and marketing will eventually be seen to be as toxic to our mental health as smoking is to our physical.

eventually?

the root problem as I've come to see it is that, short of the most basic providing of information (cheap beer available here, cheap parking here, movie starts at 9pm) advertising/marketing is lying is bullshit is convincing/cajoling/seducing folks to consume stuff they don't need, and pay more for it. And this kind of deception is indeed complicated. It sometimes really does require a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to get even 140 characters just so.

and it does cause cancer.
posted by philip-random at 8:59 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


and it does cause cancer

What does? Cheese? Oh dear God...
posted by jontyjago at 9:01 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


the root problem as I've come to see it is that, short of the most basic providing of information (cheap beer available here, cheap parking here, movie starts at 9pm) advertising/marketing is lying is bullshit is convincing/cajoling/seducing folks to consume stuff they don't need, and pay more for it. And this kind of deception is indeed complicated.

cf. Adam Curtis, The Century Of The Self.
posted by hippybear at 9:02 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


I wonder how many hours got spent planning #CheersToSochi and #myNYPD and all wasted. It seems that nowhere in the hours of planning is there much contingency planning for a backfire. I guess that's being a negative defeatist and not a team player

Yeah, I can imagine it being hugely frustrating to know that one will accrue no goodwill from one's higher-ups if one is the only person in the meeting who's like "DO YOU PEOPLE HAVE ANY IDEA HOW EASY IT WILL BE TO GOATSE THIS"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:03 AM on May 27 [8 favorites]


Some things cannot be ungoatsed.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:07 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


They only use twitter to solve consumer complaint issues by communicating directly with people who are having issues with their service and talking about it publicly.

Was it Cox? I had a similar experience with them recently and came away pretty impressed.

I'd much rather have customer service issues handled over Twitter (although email would be preferable, honestly) than be required to call some purgatorial 1-800 number and muddle through the AVR System of Despair before finally being connected to a human who is only empowered to read a script at me. Which basically sums up every other customer service interaction I've ever had with any major corporation in the last 15 years.

Perhaps it's only impressive because companies have set the bar for what constitutes customer service so low, but that ship has sailed and doesn't seem to be coming back so I'm willing to take what I can get at this point, over Twitter or by any other method.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:21 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


philip-random: " the root problem as I've come to see it is that, short of the most basic providing of information (cheap beer available here, cheap parking here, movie starts at 9pm) advertising/marketing is lying is bullshit is convincing/cajoling/seducing folks to consume stuff they don't need, and pay more for it."

Sometimes.

Sometimes not. I've worked on PR and ad campaigns intended to educate people about screenings for various cancers, heart/circulatory issues, neurological disorders and debilitating diseases. To raise awareness of free or reduced cost medical programs, including free surgeries that restored sight or hearing to children born with specific birth defects. None of it was "the most basic providing of information." Nor trivial to those who benefited.
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


what if life wasn't about commerce after all?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:22 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Would totally vote for President Camembert.
posted by hwestiii at 9:25 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Back in the early days of the web, when mission statements were all the rage, my wife's BFF got assigned to write the mission statement for her department along with the only other person in the department with a sense of humor. They picked a mission statement from the Dilbert website, an incoherent mess of business jargon. It was approved on by the department head, division manager, director, and was about to just the stamp of approval from a VP when they managed to yank it. Corporations are DUMB and no one has the courage to say, "well that's certainly a piece of shit".
posted by Ber at 9:40 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


...filling your news feed with content people actually want to see...

So far, no evidence that this is taking place.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:40 AM on May 27


I pay even less attention to social media marketing and branding than I do regular advertising because it's both such an ephemeral thing and because companies seem to spend so much time and money on it. That level of effort to attract my attention comes across as pretty desperate and that's my perception of most modern social media marketing - desperation and irrelevance.
posted by Revvy at 9:41 AM on May 27


I am the social media person for a nonprofit. People ask me to tweet things out for them...which I do...and I tweet out stuff that I think is important/timely/interesting to our members, without getting anyone's approval. I do the Facebook thing and the LinkedIn thing. The rest of my time is spent herding bloggers, writing for our publications, writing for online, doing SEO. I'm stunned. 13 people. 45 hours. Huh?
posted by byjingo! at 9:42 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Sometimes not. I've worked on PR and ad campaigns intended to educate people...

Which is great, but the larger point stands: it doesn't seem like it would be that complicated to separate useful public-awareness campaigns and straightforward consumer-relevant information, from the type of commercial branding and marketing activities which many (including myself) would argue are essentially a form of brainwashing, and which certainly frequently involve misrepresentation, cajoling, a warping of information and perception, a construction of useless or harmful narratives, outright lying, and general deception. Would it?

I mean I could see why someone might want to assert that you can't have one without the other, or that it's all terribly complicated and can't be reduced like that, or that the accusation is naive or trivial or ideological, especially if they have an interest in the providing that kind of service to people. But I don't think I'd agree. I think the fundamental dishonesty that goes into (especially commercial) marketing, and the skill with which modern marketing has developed in polishing and eliding that dishonesty, is quite abundantly clear.

How to counter it or even just escape it is a subject I think about a lot without usually getting very far.
posted by Drexen at 9:44 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Président are going to be selling a lot more of their Camembert, thanks to all this ridicule.
posted by Flashman at 9:49 AM on May 27


I once had a bad day and remarked I was going to get a bottle of %_Whiskey_Brand for the night, twitter account of said %_Whiskey_Brand tweeted at me something like "Please drink responsibly!" and I decided I didn't need to drink anything, after I blocked them.

Now I just don't mention brand names on twitter because of the attention it gets...from brands.

Also this happened
posted by hellojed at 9:57 AM on May 27 [14 favorites]


The problem, fundamentally, is that the client insisted on maximalizing their message because tweets are rationed.

This doesn't actually make sense -- your account can issue tweets umpty-times a minute for hours before Twitter temporarily cuts you off, but when you're institutionally in the mindset of brand-focused corporate messaging, tweets become incredibly expensive, for exactly the reasons outlined.

And, yeah, that probably still doesn't make sense. But you're a megacorp with offices in five countries and the actual cost to do this is relatively small at the corporate level, even if it's outrageously expensive at the departmental level. That cheese tweet cost client tens of thousands of dollars? Hundreds? Whatever -- it's going to be another fiscal quarter before the next one, so it's not even going to be noticed when Wall Street reviews their financials.

T'was always thus, though. Not merely posts on Twitter or Facebook, but all public communications have to be vetted through dozens of hands. I once worked on a client project which required over a dozen programmers and on-site consultant/contractors, several marketing and domain experts, and was held up multiple times for content reviews by the higher-ups, including twice-a-month demo dates to report on current status to the rest of the department. And finally, over four months later, we shipped the client's banner ad.
posted by at by at 9:58 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


204 followers now, up from 111. I guess Huge will get a great bullet point out of all of this. We doubled a client's follower count in ONE DAY!
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:03 AM on May 27


I'll probably buy cheese after reading all this. Just... almost certainly not the brand in question. Maybe not even Camembert.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:03 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


hellojed: "Also this happened"

Too cheesy?
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on May 27 [6 favorites]


"PR Firm adapts Tweet SEO to MinMax their Social-reach."

Yeah, I can't even imagine how I would explain that sentance to my grandmother, or someone from the 1800s.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:09 AM on May 27


commercial branding and marketing activities which many (including myself) would argue are essentially a form of brainwashing,

There are a few ways to get around this so-called "brainwashing"

1. Use Adblock and other ad-blocking software
2. Pay for your games and software so there are no banner ads
3. Limit your social media use
4. Don't pay for cable television

Basically, take personal responsibility for your own media consumption. Nobody is going to do it for you. And don't feel as though you have to edumacate other, dumber people about how bad advertising is. It's their own personal responsibility too.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:10 AM on May 27 [12 favorites]


finally, over four months later, we shipped the client's banner ad

What did you pack it in? Those things are fragile.
posted by thelonius at 10:13 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I do this sort of work too, and I can see how it would take 13 people 45 days to execute this sort of thing. It is called bureaucracy, and all larger organizations have it.

Sounds nightmarish (navigating organizational politics is a real time-sink, and eats into our margins), which is why we stick with smaller businesses where there are only a couple of decision-makers.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Correction: An earlier version of this story implied that the President Cheese team meeting to approve April's tweets was attended by Jessica Lindsay, a copywriter, a designer, and a team of 10 to 20 strategists. After the story was published, a representative from Huge clarified that the meeting was attended only by Lindsay, a copywriter, a designer, and a project manager.
posted by mrbill at 10:16 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


And don't feel as though you have to edumacate other, dumber people about how bad advertising is. It's their own personal responsibility too.

except if they're dumb as you say, they're sitting ducks for it ... and eventually they're buying Hummers and advocating for the oilsands because they NEED that environmental atrocity to keep their tanks filled. (just one example)

Ignore the ignorant and they'll go away, taking you with them.
posted by philip-random at 10:17 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


If it hasn't already been said, NOW their article is getting the attention it deserves and their twitter account has traffic.
posted by infini at 10:18 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


After looking at the probable contenders for the 2016 US presidential election (128 weeks today) from the GOP side, I think President Cheese has a good chance of winning at least a few primaries. Especially Wisconsin.
posted by Wordshore at 10:20 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty disappointed President Cheese doesn't look more like this.
posted by maryr at 10:28 AM on May 27


Or this.
posted by maryr at 10:28 AM on May 27


I was doing it as a joke, yet this PR tweet required a a few days of work, surprisingly. So, I can most definitely see how it'd take weeks to set one up (the tweet is just the entry point) if you were doing it for real.
posted by ignignokt at 10:28 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Every few seconds, your favorite brands are tweeting at you.
Unless you count LeVar Burton as a "brand", my favorite brands don't tweet at me at all. I genuinely don't understand why people sign up to follow the tweets of, say, WalMart or Coca Cola or General Electric or whatever, but hundreds of thousands of people, or in some cases millions of people, apparently do.
posted by Flunkie at 10:33 AM on May 27


And don't feel as though you have to edumacate other, dumber people about how bad advertising is. It's their own personal responsibility too.

Sounds reasonable. Now try convincing marketers that it's not their responsibility to edumacate other, dumber people about how great their peanut butter/auto insurance/erectile dysfunction medication is.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:35 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


I was doing it as a joke, yet this PR tweet required a a few days of work, surprisingly.

Yeah, but you got a great Bonus out of it. Or maybe in to it?
posted by maryr at 10:38 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Huge is a good company with smart people (I've been involved with them professionally, to be fair) but there's just something that feels inherently fragile in the ad driven online economy. I'm not saying this work is trivial or easy, because it isn't, but it does often appear nonsensical and fruitless. And yet this sort of thing is the beating heart of large parts of the sector.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:39 AM on May 27


Am I the only person who got President Cheese confused with Mayor McCheese for a second there? I thought maybe he'd advanced in his political career.

I was wondering the same about Richard Cheese.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:41 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Here's a hot social media marketing tip: If, since 2010, you've said out loud "Twitter? WhaddaIwanna see a million pictures of people's lunch for?" --You are not the target audience and can safely return to Usenet without bothering to comment on social media marketing.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:46 AM on May 27 [10 favorites]


President Cheese should get social media tips from Judge Fudge. But then again, Judge Fudge is far too busy being delicious.
posted by Flunkie at 10:50 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


except if they're dumb as you say, they're sitting ducks for it ... and eventually they're buying Hummers and advocating for the oilsands because they NEED that environmental atrocity to keep their tanks filled. (just one example)

I don't know, I guess my first instinct is to withdraw and disengage, to not play the game. Comes after a lifetime of "outsider" status, first in school (with a brief thaw in university where I found like-minded weirdos), then in Japan where I was the very definition of an outsider, and more recently in the corporate world back in Canada. Also, rounding the horn of age 40 leads to prime outsider territory.

I don't have any money, so the marketers aren't marketing to me. And anyone who can afford a Hummer is doing better financially than I am, and deserves a bit of recognition for that.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:50 AM on May 27


That cheese tweet cost client tens of thousands of dollars? Hundreds?

No - the tweet might well have had a team on it for 45 days, but nearly everyone doing this kind of thing is an intern and works for free. What small expenses the client did have (copywriter on 150 dollars a day attending 3 meetings? Junior account manager on 29k a year? Sandwich platter? not much else I can think of) are still tiny in comparison to what traditional media used to cost.

Twitter is insanely cheap if just one of your 500 tweets actually gets a bit of traction for half an hour, and if not... you didn't lose much anyway because everyone under 30 works for free now.
posted by colie at 10:51 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Hahahahahahaha oh man hahahahahaha oh man shit no sniff fuck I'm crying
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:52 AM on May 27


What would Bill Hicks (youtube link nsfw - Rich language) say?
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:03 AM on May 27


If I understand this correctly, people over 40 aren't the targets, and people under 30 work for free.

Oh brave new world, that has such things.
posted by dglynn at 11:06 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


What would Bill Hicks yt (youtube link nsfw - Rich language) say?

Hicks would tell you to kill yourself and to be grateful that lots of great musicians died from drugs and alcohol.
posted by thelonius at 11:12 AM on May 27 [3 favorites]


If I understand this correctly, people over 40 aren't the targets, and people under 30 work for free.

You're definitely a target if you're over 40 because you have the cash to buy cars and holidays and your family's groceries and healthcare and stuff etc.

But the marketers know you don't really listen to advertising any more because you can't take it any more, so they have to get your desires all lined up when you're young.

I just worked for a car client who explicitly wanted the kids all tweeting drooling about the 100k cars so the lucky ones among them could go out and buy them 20 years later without needing any advertising then. It's a long game.
posted by colie at 11:13 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I really think this article (like most articles) has dramatically exaggerated this situation. Giving the eentsy-teeniest benefit of the doubt to the people behind President Cheese and Huge, it doesn't take a genius to assume that this tweet was part of a much bigger strategy and campaign. So yes, start to finish, it may have taken 45 days to become public, but it probably wasn't the only thing people were working on. As part of a larger marketing campaign is it really that surprising that many people were involved and that the process and approvals took time?

Welcome to the business world.
posted by hamandcheese at 11:16 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


it may have taken 45 days to become public, but it probably wasn't the only thing people were working on.

Not even Monty Python's 'Funniest Joke in the World' (which was so funny it caused instant death) took 45 days, although it did have separate teams working on each individual word as I recall, for safety reasons; when one guy accidentally saw two words of it he was hospitalised...
posted by colie at 11:22 AM on May 27 [4 favorites]


I just worked for a car client who explicitly wanted the kids all tweeting drooling about the 100k cars so the lucky ones among them could go out and buy them 20 years later without needing any advertising then. It's a long game.

Damn it, SpaceX, when the hell did you instill that urge to abscond from the planet? You fuckers were sneaky.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:24 AM on May 27


Following yesterday's post on Navy slang, I am officially coining the following acronym:


JAFU- Joint Agency Fuck-Up
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:30 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Twenty years is a mighty long horizon when calculating ROI on quarterly/annual ad spends.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:31 AM on May 27


It goes under 'brand building' on the spreadsheet.
posted by colie at 11:32 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Also, the fact that I just had to step away from my computer to help several grown adults at a major agency use SurveyMonkey means that this does not surprise me at all.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:35 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I can't tell if you're joking, but the rapid pace of change since 2008/09 means the companies engaged in the brand building cannot be sure anymore if they will be around in 10 years, or sometimes even in 5 years.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:35 AM on May 27


"I am the social media person for a nonprofit. People ask me to tweet things out for them...which I do...and I tweet out stuff that I think is important/timely/interesting to our members, without getting anyone's approval. I do the Facebook thing and the LinkedIn thing. The rest of my time is spent herding bloggers, writing for our publications, writing for online, doing SEO. I'm stunned. 13 people. 45 hours. Huh?"

Yeah, I do social media, which from here on out I'm gonna pretend is called #SocMed for a non-profit and do it pretty well, but me and Univac (who also does this stuff) were joking about how if someone tells you they're a social media expert, the only way you should believe them is that in the next breath they tell you at least half of it is bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 11:39 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Mercedes-Benz and BMW will be here in 10 years (even if their govt had to bail them out) and definitely need to get young men loving their brand from age 7 or so.
posted by colie at 11:40 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


BTW, President Camembert is a quisling propped up by Brie nationalists. Learn the truth. #roquefortliberationfront
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:45 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


if someone tells you they're a social media expert, the only way you should believe them is that in the next breath they tell you at least half of it is bullshit.

It was always thus.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:45 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Mercedes-Benz and BMW will be here in 10 years (even if their govt had to bail them out) and definitely need to get young men loving their brand from age 7 or so.

I agree with you on that point (well, I am not convinced actually they will still be around), but there are only a *relative* handful of large enterprises that can engage in this sort of multigenerational branding.

For most businesses, the old paradigm of spending tons of money on campaigns with results that cannot be measured in real-time is over.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:47 AM on May 27


there's just something that feels inherently fragile in the ad driven online economy.

My feeling is that it's because the "ad-driven online economy" is a shambling corpse, but everyone's too polite (or too invested in it) to point that out.

Print dollars became web nickels and now mobile pennies, and probably "social" fractions-of-pennies.

The average first-world consumer, at least in desirable demographics, would appear to be more aware of--and hostile to--conventional advertising than ever before. Ads are much more easily blocked, skipped over, or just ignored in favor of other types of content.

Companies seem to be pouring more and more effort into chasing fewer and fewer eyeball-seconds worth of attention. It doesn't seem sustainable.

I don't think advertising per se is ever going to go away, but certainly something has to give from the way things are right now. I can't possibly imagine that most companies' "social media" efforts really have measurable positive ROI. It just seems to be the thing that one does right now for lack of a better idea, and because everyone's competitors are doing it too. (My company does it, and there's definitely no hard data on whether it's really doing us anything. It gets justified under "building the brand".)

It'd be nice if some of the resources getting shoveled into social-media marketing got redirected towards R&D or product development or other let's-maybe-suck-less efforts, but probably it'll just go towards more product placement ads and forum astroturfing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:52 AM on May 27 [5 favorites]


"The average first-world consumer, at least in desirable demographics, would appear to be more aware of--and hostile to--conventional advertising than ever before. Ads are much more easily blocked, skipped over, or just ignored in favor of other types of content.

Companies seem to be pouring more and more effort into chasing fewer and fewer eyeball-seconds worth of attention. It doesn't seem sustainable.
"

So, we've all seen the Hick-ites apoplectic rejections of advertising and marketing, but where they trip up is that marketing is really important IF YOU WANT THAT THING BEING MARKETED. Like, I listen to a fair amount of indie rock, but something that happens to me pretty regularly is that a band I like puts out a new album and I don't hear about it for months and months. Sometimes I miss their show in my city too, and that annoys me. That band's marketing has failed, generally. I want what they're selling and will give them my money and everyone will be happy.

People are hostile to the general creep of seeing ads for things that they don't want. And in theory, social networks should be good for this because your friends will hopefully want to talk about things that they enjoy and help filter out the irrelevant bullshit.

The real problem is that who gives a fuck about President Cheese outside of people who work at President Cheese?
posted by klangklangston at 12:13 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


From the article it sounds like what actually happened is it took 45 days to go from someone first thinking about the social media plans for April, to getting them fleshed out, sorting out photos and such, getting everything signed off, and then getting to the point where this particular tweet was tweeted.

Incidentally the tweet is from April 30th, so if it was part of some overall plan for April, it is the very last part of the plan to be implemented. So, basically the story is: Company starts planning stuff for April in mid-March, finishes executing last part of said plan at end of April.

Nothing tremendously astonishing in that I'd have thought.

Nor anything surprising in that BI framed the story headline to make it sound like they spent 45 days working non-stop on crafting one tweet.

Btw it looks like President Cheese's twitter account first posted on March 21st, so this is all part of their first Twitter campaign. No doubt they were being extra careful and figuring stuff out as they went.

The tweet in question currently has 109 retweets and 835 favorites. Quite possibly due to the fact that they've now got the likes of BI and Mefi to spread the story for them.
posted by philipy at 12:19 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I think some some corporate marketing departments are (very) slowly coming around to the idea that if you don't want your efforts to be completely ignored, you have to either be entertaining or create some other compelling reason for consumers to seek you out and not just the other way around.

See the awesomely demented Velveeta twitter feed for a good example. As someone who makes ads for a living, I'm very much in favor of this development.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 12:25 PM on May 27 [9 favorites]


Send the Gibberish is my personal philosophy.
posted by srboisvert at 12:26 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


where they trip up is that marketing is really important IF YOU WANT THAT THING BEING MARKETED.

It really isn't, because if you care you'll go looking, and if you don't you shouldn't be made to.
posted by flabdablet at 12:33 PM on May 27


Whatever is common is despised. Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.
- Samuel Johnson, 1759
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:35 PM on May 27


KokuRyu: There are a few ways to get around this so-called "brainwashing"

1. Use Adblock and other ad-blocking software
2. Pay for your games and software so there are no banner ads
3. Limit your social media use
4. Don't pay for cable television

Basically, take personal responsibility for your own media consumption. Nobody is going to do it for you.
"

I do all of those and more as do many others, but I'd hardly say that's an end to the problem or the solution. Firstly, advertisements are bombarded at us all the time from every angle. It's impossible or very difficult for an individual to just lock themselves out of it without running away to a cabin in the woods. It isn't a solution.

Secondly, I think we all have a right to be invested, interested and involved in the type of mesages, information and propaganda that we have access to and that are placed all around us, in almost every avenue of information that we receive day in and out. Taking responsibility for our media consumption is exactly what we're doing when we talk about the media we consume, find what parts are there for our benefit and which are there for others' benefit and in what ways, and do our best to have a say in what those things are.

You say 'no one else is going to do it for you' but that's exactly what I'd say companies like Huge Inc. are trying to do, directly or indirectly. Whether they succeed depends partly on whether people notice what they're doing, talk about whether they like it or not and why, and what if anything to do about it.

And don't feel as though you have to edumacate other, dumber people about how bad advertising is. It's their own personal responsibility too.

When we discuss things, we're educating each other about them. I learn a lot by hearing what other people think, what they find interesting, what information they have, what their reactions are. That's what happens here, I don't think there's anything inherently patronising or didactic about it.
posted by Drexen at 12:39 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


My feeling is that it's because the "ad-driven online economy" is a shambling corpse, but everyone's too polite (or too invested in it) to point that out.

Google are pulling in around $15 billion per quarter in advertising revenue. Last year they did $5 billion-ish from YouTube advertising alone. Twitter will likely go the same way soon, LinkedIn, Instagram too. Even old-fashioned the Daily Mail, at the other end of the scale doing a traditional banner ad job, is heading for £60 million a year while its paper ad revenue is in decline.
posted by colie at 1:22 PM on May 27


"It really isn't, because if you care you'll go looking, and if you don't you shouldn't be made to."

Nah, that's your bullshit writ large, man. I care about, say, Pink Mountaintops, but since they only put out an album every couple of years, it's a lot more efficient to let them tell me when they put the album out rather than bothering them every couple of days with a new email. Likewise, I'm digging the new Broad City show and have started recording it on the DVR. That never would have happened if I hadn't seen an ad for it — I wouldn't have even known to look for it. A mythological zero-marketing world would mean missing out on a lot of things that I actually enjoy.
posted by klangklangston at 1:23 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Compare to the Denny's tumblr, which is maintained by one 23-year-old woman given pretty much free reign and has managed to amass an enormous cult following.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:24 PM on May 27 [8 favorites]


Or, less snarkily: The problem with advertising isn't just advertising broadly, it's seeing things that aren't relevant to you. It's the same way that press releases have to exist, but you shouldn't ever pitch a journo that's not going to cover the topic.
posted by klangklangston at 1:25 PM on May 27


And so everything prophesied in Nathan Barley and Super Sad True Love Story shall come to pass...

Actually, the amount of dumb money being poured into funding "social media" consulting reminds me of the late-1990s, when San Francisco was full of lavishly funded "Internet consultancies" that often could charge clients a minimum of $300/hour/consultant to work on web sites.
posted by meehawl at 1:28 PM on May 27


So many nuggets of absolute truth in this thread ... and so few favorites I can give ...

I honestly believe advertising and marketing will eventually be seen to be as toxic to our mental health as smoking is to our physical.

short of the most basic providing of information (cheap beer available here, cheap parking here, movie starts at 9pm) advertising/marketing is lying is bullshit is convincing/cajoling/seducing folks to consume stuff they don't need, and pay more for it. And this kind of deception is indeed complicated.

if someone tells you they're a social media expert, the only way you should believe them is that in the next breath they tell you at least half of it is bullshit.

**
How are search engines not up to the task of helping people find things they want?
Yeah, about that....


1. Use Adblock and other ad-blocking software
2. Pay for your games and software so there are no banner ads
3. Limit your social media use
4. Don't pay for cable television

5. Join 1,692 others by subscribing to MetaFilter
Advertising may be the Way of Life for selling cheap cheese, but not for building Communities.

Here's a hot social media marketing tip: If, since 2010, you've said out loud "Twitter? WhaddaIwanna see a million pictures of people's lunch for?" --You are not the target audience and can safely return to Usenet MetaFilter without bothering to comment on social media marketing.

You're definitely a target if you're over 40 because you have the cash to buy cars and holidays and your family's groceries and healthcare and stuff etc. But the marketers know you don't really listen to advertising any more because you can't take it any more, so they have to get your desires all lined up when you're young... It's a long game.

**
I'll probably buy cheese after reading all this. Just... almost certainly not the brand in question.

See the awesomely demented Velveeta twitter feed
After all, Velveeta isn't REALLY cheese, so it's social media can be similarly artificial. (Still, when mixed with Real Cheese and microwaved, it makes a better base for a queso dip)

The B-Ark is getting mighty crowded.

Ignore the ignorant and they'll go away, taking you with them.

what if life wasn't about commerce after all?
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:32 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Compare to the Denny's tumblr

I see someone is taking on Taco Bell for the coveted stoner demographic.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:38 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


This takes me back to the time I was working freelance as a copywriter and, through an old friend working in a media agency, got to be in sole charge of the Facebook page posts for a very well known UK food brand.

There was no approval process - I basically posted what I liked. I made the most ridiculous recipes I could think of using the client's product, photographed them using my incredibly cheap and crappy digital camera, and asked the FB 'fans' to do the same. It was a lot of fun and got a lot of comments.

Then the brand did something (outside of social media) to inflame religious tension in Northern Ireland, believe it or not, and I spent my final days there mollifying enraged Catholics from the Falls Road.
posted by Summer at 2:26 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


I acknowledge that I'm shamelessly biased but the best use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook that I've seen for business use has been emerging from Africa.
posted by infini at 2:34 PM on May 27


I do all of those and more as do many others, but I'd hardly say that's an end to the problem or the solution. Firstly, advertisements are bombarded at us all the time from every angle. It's impossible or very difficult for an individual to just lock themselves out of it without running away to a cabin in the woods. It isn't a solution.

While I certainly would not disagree (what we experience is what we experience), in my case I must say that the efforts I have taken to lock down media in my life (as listed above) does cause unintended consequences.

For example, when I was a kid I watched television on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and on most nights of the week.

So I saw a lot of advertising and grew, to some extent, desensitized to it (except for Coke vs. Pepsi).

My own kids now don't see a hell of a lot of advertising. We don't have cable television, and YouTube etc is locked down so it doesn't display banner ads, and I've also (for the time being, until my son is ready, and he's starting to ask about it) implemented parental controls.

So they don't see a lot of advertising at all. When we go to grandma and grandpa's house, where the old-media paradigm of super-deluxe cable subscriptions and televisions *in* *every* *single* *room* rules, the kids are suddenly in a different world.

"Dad, did you know that that shampoo helps prevent dandruff? What's dandruff? It sounds gross!" etc etc.

While I am certainly not wringing my hands over this odd development, perhaps we need to inoculate our post-post-modern kids against advertising with small doses of it.

On the other hand, thank god for advertising, because it gives us beautiful parodies like this.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:06 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


perhaps we need to inoculate our post-post-modern kids against advertising with small doses of it

I think that better than striving to eliminate advertising from life is to learn exactly what advertising is, how it works, what it is designed to do, what its methods of manipulation are...

This also should encompass understanding how stores are laid out, how the various shelves in a grocery store are stocked...

Basically, in order to survive without being manipulated by marketing in today's developed nation cultures, you need to have an understanding about exactly what is being done to manipulate you into buying certain things over other things.

Only then are you armed with the knowledge about what is being done and can ignore it while you make your own choices.

THAT is the inoculation that is needed. It's not about hiding advertising, whether a child or an adult. It is about understanding exactly how those who seek our dollars against our better judgement work their craft. The "antibodies" of THAT inoculation is strong and carries through a lifetime.
posted by hippybear at 3:20 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]




While I am certainly not wringing my hands over this odd development, perhaps we need to inoculate our post-post-modern kids against advertising with small doses of it.

Kokoryu, its interesting you should mention this. I watched my 7 year old nephew respond to advertising on his kiddie channel and then told him to ask his dad when he got home whether he should believe all those messages. My brother in law is on the executive board of a mega global ad agency and so that evening, sonny goes up to him and says "Auntie says to ask you what I should think of commercials" (I'm paraphrasing). The look on his face was priceless when I snidely added, "You don't want him to become a passive automated consumption bot do you?"
posted by infini at 3:53 PM on May 27


I think that better than striving to eliminate advertising from life is to learn exactly what advertising is, how it works, what it is designed to do, what its methods of manipulation are...

This also should encompass understanding how stores are laid out, how the various shelves in a grocery store are stocked...


This.

This is what I advising nephew.

Can't favourite your comment hard enough, hippybear.
posted by infini at 3:54 PM on May 27


It's good that the illustrious Schools of Design are producing such worthy candidates for today's difficult job marke-*farts self unconscious*
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:59 PM on May 27


I was just wondering about the same thing that adamsc just touched on (the tweet from Huge Inc., "We Got a Look Inside The Process Behind Writing Inaccurate Clickbait"). So the supply chain here is an ad campaign involving, among other things, twitter... being reported on by a business "magazine" that is actually a website/web business itself... being beanplated by a niche social media platform. And a bunch of the comments here seem to be focused on the "13 people taking 45 days to create a single tweet." Who is actually being trolled here? I would suggest that MeFi is getting trolled by Business Insider. If someone wrote a post straight up about the Huge campaign and just linked their tweet (cutting out Business Insider), I feel like Jessamyn or Cortex would have deleted it with some pithy comment about "meh, seems thin, point and laugh at the silly marketing schills." But by talking earnestly about it, we are now driving traffic back to Business Insider and probably increasing their search engine ranking and all of the other analytics that people care about.
posted by BlueTongueLizard at 5:40 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


The look on his face was priceless when I snidely added...

Yeah, I also get a "priceless" look my on my face when people give me self-described snidely advice on how to raise my children.
posted by sideshow at 5:49 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


this thread is probably as good a place as any to plug httpswitchboard for chrome, which i've been using for about a week instead of adblock and have been absolutely loving. just as effective as adblock (uses its filter lists), even more granular, more intuitive custom rule interface (imo), and dramatically lower memory/cpu use. my browser finally doesnt crash every day.
posted by p3on at 6:36 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


I would totally vote for President Camembert.
posted by bakerina at 8:53 PM on May 27


Basically, in order to survive without being manipulated by marketing in today's developed nation cultures, you need to have an understanding about exactly what is being done to manipulate you into buying certain things over other things.

Only then are you armed with the knowledge about what is being done and can ignore it while you make your own choices.


The thing about marketing, though, is that the manipulation techniques it uses keep working even if you know what's going on. So reducing exposure as much as possible is the most reasoned response to its existence.

Like installing a HEPA filter in Beijing, using Adblock Plus is just something you do because it makes sense given the environment you're living in.
posted by flabdablet at 10:03 PM on May 27


I think that better than striving to eliminate advertising from life is to learn exactly what advertising is, how it works, what it is designed to do, what its methods of manipulation are...

In 6th or 7th grade I learned about "Propaganda Techniques" in public school and the homework consisted of finding examples of particular techniques like the "Bandwagon" approach or the appeal to authority. It was very helpful, and probably part of some evil "Social Studies" "know about the current world you live in" agenda that has long since been jettisoned.
posted by aydeejones at 2:39 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]


"The thing about marketing, though, is that the manipulation techniques it uses keep working even if you know what's going on. So reducing exposure as much as possible is the most reasoned response to its existence."

It does and it doesn't. Some techniques keep working, but their effects are lessened (through ridicule, for example). And even assuming that you're right and sequestration is the only way to avoid being manipulated, given that most people are unwilling or unable to sequester themselves that that degree, learning about the techniques is probably a more practical approach.
posted by klangklangston at 9:16 AM on May 28


It's not an either-or thing. Learn about the techniques, then act to limit your exposure because you understand them. That's the approach I've taken my whole life; learned it from my parents, passing it on to my kids.

It works. I am able to live entirely satisfactorily without making anywhere near as much money as most of my neighbours, I have more time than they do, and my kids are happier. I am entirely convinced that the advertising industry is, on balance, something we'd all be better off without.
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I also get a "priceless" look my on my face when people give me self-described snidely advice on how to raise my children.

It takes a village!
posted by ODiV at 11:09 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]


The man works in advertising and has made a living creating this bullshit. Of course I was snide when I saw his son buying into it. "Teach, your children well..." etc
posted by infini at 12:29 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]


Who the f*ck follows corporate Twitter accounts besides employees, shills, and robots?

Not Twitter, but I've liked a few companies on Facebook. My excuse is that it gave me free stuff.
posted by ymgve at 4:30 PM on May 28


My excuse is that it gave me free stuff.

Ah! The Faust defence :)

The entire advertising industry is just this massive tower of lies, from the fundamental first lie ("you need us") through the central message to consumers ("your life is incomplete without product X") to the last ("the brand recognition our ads have given you is not mostly coming from clickfarms in China").

The liars charge vast sums to the businesses they lie to so they'll fund them to lie to us, and then they hire other liars to lie some more about what a wonderful job they've been doing and how commerce itself would collapse without their efforts. But the only reason a good business with a decent product needs to advertise in the first place, rather than simply relying on word of mouth referrals from happy customers, is that everybody else is advertising and the word of mouth referrals get lost in the glare.

It's been my experience that businesses that don't advertise are the best ones to deal with: not only can they charge less because they're not spending about as much as they net on advertising, but whatever they're selling is generally better than the more heavily advertised alternatives because it has to be if they're going to stay in business in today's advertising-dominated marketplace.

Only a very small handful of huge businesses can afford what it costs now to stay on top of the advertising-driven brand-recognition pile.

And everybody who works at or above management level in the advertising industry knows all this, which is why their lives so often need to go better with coke.

The cost of advertising amounts to an almost unavoidable tax on almost every product and service we use, but unlike a real tax, the proceeds are not used to fund much of benefit to the public. The only benefit is the pittance the advertisers pay out for the right to stick their assorted uglinesses in places people will be looking.

At present, internet service providers charge some flat fee for bandwidth; if you're on the kind of connection plan you need in order to run a high-traffic server, you pay handsomely for that. In my view, that's almost exactly backwards, because it's the places that people want to pull content from that make the internet worth having in the first place. A more reasonable way to monetize the Internet would be on the basis of a straight fee for service, where the act of sticking data onto the wire is commonly understood to be one such service.

A lot of consumer-grade connection plans make somewhat more sense to me, in that you're charged for downloads but not uploads. I'd like to see that idea extended, so that the usual arrangement for all internet connections works like this:
  • you pay your ISP some recurring amount for the act of providing and maintaining your connection to them
  • you pay your ISP some amount for each megabyte you download over that connection
  • your ISP pays you for each megabyte you upload over that connection
I can see no reason why the same basic rules shouldn't also be workable between ISPs, and I would expect market forces to flatten the price paid per transferred megabyte until most entities are paying something very close to the global average rate.
posted by flabdablet at 9:46 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]


A lot of consumer-grade connection plans make somewhat more sense to me, in that you're charged for downloads but not uploads. I'd like to see that idea extended, so that the usual arrangement for all internet connections works like this:
-you pay your ISP some recurring amount for the act of providing and maintaining your connection to them
-you pay your ISP some amount for each megabyte you download over that connection
-your ISP pays you for each megabyte you upload over that connection


So you just killed Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Instagram, online videogaming, basically anything that isn't text-only like email (and then only emails without large attachments) as something nearly anyone will want to actually use.

You've recreated pre-flat-rate AOL, basically.

Also, what consumer-grade connection plan are you on that makes you pay for downloads instead of a monthly flat rate for anything you do online?
posted by hippybear at 10:08 PM on May 28


An Australian one. It actually is a flat rate right now, but that's because that's what works out to give me the lowest cost per megabyte I download per month.

I also can't see why what I've proposed would kill the megabyte-heavy services. If it's economic for an ISP to provide folks with a flat rate per month that covers the cost of providing the required bandwidth plus a decent return on investment, I can't see why setting a per-megabyte rate that works out to the same aggregate revenue level would be unfair.

The problem with per-megabyte rates in the past is that they have tended to be way disproportionate to the actual cost of being able to ship those megabytes into your house; basically, ISPs were gouging their customers based on almost universal ignorance about what a megabyte actually was. The internet's been a thing for long enough now, though, that nowadays most people are actually pretty savvy about this and are quite capable of looking around for better deals.

The problem with flat rates is that they disproportionately favour heavy users, and that's not particularly fair. I have many customers, mostly elderly, who do only use the internet for email, light web browsing and the occasional Skype conversation; their typical usage would be well under 2GB/month, and yet the cheapest ADSL plan on offer where I live costs $40/month and has a 100GB monthly allowance. I'm currently paying $60/month for the flat rate plan, which I've been on for a month, and last month I downloaded 420GB and uploaded 11; perhaps I'd be better off on their 500GB-limit plan at $50/month, but time will tell.

So I'm paying an effective rate of 14 cents per GB for my month's data, and my elderly customers are paying well over $20/GB for theirs. Is that fair? I don't think so.

My ISP also offers a 500GB/month plan for $50/month. That's $10/month more than their 100GB/month plan, which means they're currently working off a marginal price for downloaded data of roughly 2.5c/GB.

If you were to run one of their unlimited plans at the maximum rate ADSL2+ can deliver - about 2MB/s - without a pause for an entire month, you'd download about 5TB. At 2.5c/GB, that would cost you $130 - only about twice what I'm currently paying for less than a tenth of that data volume. And since the number of households technically capable of saturating an ADSL2+ connection in that way, let alone actually choosing to do so, would have to be vanishingly small, I have no problem at all contemplating charging them that much for the congestion they'd undoubtedly contribute to.

These are all back-of-the-envelope figurings and I'm by no means a representative ADSL customer, but it seems pretty clear to me that ISP charges more dependent on data volume need not unduly or even particularly noticeably penalize Netflix enthusiasts compared to what they're paying already, and would certainly improve access to the internet for low-volume users on lower incomes.

After all, it's the heavy users whose bandwidth requirements largely determine the costs of providing the services in the first place.
posted by flabdablet at 1:30 AM on May 29


Oh, and one more thing: if Netflix were being paid by their ISP for the data they upload, they could charge almost nothing directly to the end user for a movie and still make plenty of money.
posted by flabdablet at 3:56 AM on May 29


And one more thing (you've got me started now - sorry): with the scheme I'm proposing in place, advertisers would also be paid for what they upload and you'd be charged for downloading that. Which would mean that running an adblocker would be a direct vote of no confidence in the advertising it blocked and would directly affect the advertiser's revenue stream, but would not be of much consequence to sites the advertising networks pay to provide context and camouflage for their ads.

It would create a perverse incentive for advertising networks to serve up excessively large advertising. The advertising industry being composed of the kind of people it is, this would undoubtedly lead to the routine use of uncompressed BMPs instead of PNGs and JPGs, and AJAX scripts that just sit there hitting the advertising servers for megabyte-sized dummy files full of non-cacheable random data that they then just throw away, all at your expense. But it would not take long before this kind of behavior became widely understood, which would drive the uptake of ad blockers and script blockers to previously undreamt-of levels.

We'd then have no reason at all to continue the tedious argument about whether consumers have some form of moral obligation to put up with advertising in order to keep the sites they enjoy online, because it would have become universally obvious that the industry is composed almost entirely of worthless parasitic leeches on the body commercial.
posted by flabdablet at 4:46 AM on May 29


I really, really expected this it be a link to an Onion article. Oy.

And now it is! "Cheetos Social Media Team Arguing Over Whether Tweet In Chester Cheetah’s Voice"
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:31 PM on May 29


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