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LOADS OF CRAP
March 12, 2009 10:34 AM   Subscribe

@metatweetfilter Can you believe digerati like John Battelle bought into shilling Proctor & Gamble for the price of a ticket to Cincinnati?!

@metatweetfilter Guess "invited to participate" ='s "to be bestwoed trips gifts and praise in exchange for integrity." What bout the animals?
posted by humannaire (66 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
This explains a cryptic broadcast email I received from a museum director this morning.
posted by Miko at 10:36 AM on March 12, 2009


You mean this one?
posted by humannaire at 10:38 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


He'll be getting his just reward: A trip to Cincinnatti.
posted by ardgedee at 10:39 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cincinnatti. It's a hell of a drug town.
posted by boo_radley at 10:42 AM on March 12, 2009


"Just follow the link for crying out loud."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:44 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


What did Tide do?
posted by Mister_A at 10:44 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is totally fascinating. Also, it's crap.

Among the lessons learned: Fewer than 150 media and marketing people leaning heavily on their social-media friends and followers, resorting to big-name incentives and spending a total of about $4,000 on digital media can sell more than 2,000 T-shirts at $20 a pop for charity and hit the top 10 trending topics on Twitter in the process.

Let it be noted that this number does not compare favorably to the amount it's possible to raise, without a premium, when 150 influential people spend four hours on the prehistoric phone raising money for a cause.

Right on, mathowie. I really, really hope that the museum people involved learn that lesson, too.
posted by Miko at 10:44 AM on March 12, 2009


Ohhhh. This looks like the biggest Twitter kerfluffle since the last Twitter kerfluffle.
posted by Mister_A at 10:46 AM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, you have to expect people to stomp on their own mothers for a chance to win a trip to a place where you can get chili on spaghetti.

(And that Springfield cashew chicken sounds like an awesome comfort food. I'd be awfully tempted to spam for that.)
posted by maudlin at 10:49 AM on March 12, 2009


This is like getting a party invitation from a friend you haven't seen in a long time, and you're pretty stoked about seeing him; so much to catch up on and so much to talk about! And when you get to his house, there's cars parked all around the block and it looks like it's going to be a great evening! And when you get inside, there's tupperware arranged around a circle of people sitting in folding chairs, and you have to awkwardly wait through games of charades where the answers are "GOOD VALUE FOR THE MONEY" and "FRESHLOK SEAL".
posted by boo_radley at 10:51 AM on March 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


Who supported what with the which now?

It all sounds like PR jargon and interweb hype, but then I'm generally not impressed with business jargon. Conversation Economy sounds like direct marketing to me. Yes, I appreciate that Big Company spends money to talk to little people, but those little people have loud voices (Patriot looks good when replying to comments on Newegg, but they choose to reply on Newegg where lots of geeks shop).

This particular case is an effort to support/promote Tide, who are trying to go out and support/promote themselves in devastated areas (via mobile laundry service in disaster areas, such as in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina). Clean clothes are great and all, but they just look like they're pitching their product in areas with a lot of media focus.

As for the fluffy things subjected to weird chemicals: Proctor and Gamble are working with Humane Society of the United States to bring an end to all that. Another bit of publicity, but something I think could be better in the long run.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:53 AM on March 12, 2009


Great stuff. I was getting worried that we were running short of marketing people - particularly the brilliant, gentle, integrity-dripping types the world needs right now. This makes me realise that they're opening up twitter for honest trade, and hopefully can fix it so it's a rich, meaningful space like they've managed to make the rest of the internet. And bus stops. And cinemas. And products I've bought. And books. And magazines. And television. And hospital waiting rooms.
posted by davemee at 10:53 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was asked to participate in promoting the Tide Loads of Hope t-shirts for charity's sake, but I wasn't offered a trip to Cincinnati, as I am not a digital bigwig.

Being a Cleveland Browns fan, I would have declined anyway.
posted by misha at 10:57 AM on March 12, 2009


What's depressing to me is that the letter I got sort of indicated that some local museum nonprofit staff were invited with the lure that they would be learning about ways to use social media to communicate with constituents - in other words, that this would be a wild stunt in some ways but was essentially educational in nature. It feels to me like they really didn't know ahead of time that they'd be hawking t-shirts for a P&G charity. However, I get the sense that they couldn't turn it down because P&G is such a major local funder. So the letter almost has a prison-camp communication 'they are making me write this' sound...maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I kind of doubt it. It quacks like a duck.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on March 12, 2009


Which of these links explains what this is about? I've tried 3 so far.
posted by DU at 10:59 AM on March 12, 2009


"Super lame-ass SEO astroturf bullshit" will be the name of my next sock-puppet. Thanks cortex!
posted by rusty at 11:00 AM on March 12, 2009


Wait wait--I figured it out. It's that green thing on the ground in front of my house, right?
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


God, this whole thing smells bad. If P&G want to throw another fifty grand at charity, that's awesome, but skip the branding circus and social media fuckery.

Needless to day, having metafilter get spammed doesn't make me feel like this was a really successful venture for anyone other than the Tide brand and some back-patting marketers. This kind of invasive-marketing stuff is actively making the web a worse place, and the frustrating thing is that (as always) the folks enthusiastically shilling don't (or won't) see it that way.

When Dave Armano says, of this whole thing, "You can bet that P&G will be thinking about this in the future," I get the feeling he doesn't shudder like I'd hope most people who give a crap about content would. P&G will do more obnoxious marketing blitzes in social and community spaces? Yay! That's fucking awesome. I'm stoked.
posted by cortex at 11:06 AM on March 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


When Dave Armano says, of this whole thing, "You can bet that P&G will be thinking about this in the future,"

The other sort-of-grimly-amusing thing about that comment is that he was successful because he focused on providing information about the product and charity rather than on some chimaera of 'strategy' that seems like magic to a marketeer. He actually just told people what they wanted to know, by doing research and writing an FAQ, and publishing it using one of the oldest social media platforms on the web. Eureka! Maybe it's about the content!

Naaaaaahhhh.
posted by Miko at 11:13 AM on March 12, 2009


And that Springfield cashew chicken sounds like an awesome comfort food.

It ain't bad, no. I really miss the sweet & sour chicken from Spfd since I left, though. It's different there than anywhere else I've ever eaten it.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:17 AM on March 12, 2009


Hey, take this post to metatalk! And talk about editorializing! /snark

The crappy part about all this is there has to be a way to do this right.

I've retweeted Amber Alerts in my timeline. Sure it probably annoys some of my followers, but I'm willing to risk being unfollowed if I can get the word out to a few more people in the area of a missing child. Looks like Tide was doing it for a good cause.

So I ask in all innocence and honesty, how could they have gone about creating a campaign that positively engage people with their brand? It's not like they were doing some kind of scheme where if you get 3,000 followers to send in $2 they will send you $50. They weren't giving out gift cards and requiring people to blog about it.

And thank you for this post! I love beating up on social media marketers. [self-twitter link]
posted by cjorgensen at 11:20 AM on March 12, 2009


I've retweeted Amber Alerts in my timeline.

I think that's laudable. I actually don't have a problem with the charitable impulse of that or any other charity campaign that's straight-up. It's in the execution.

So I ask in all innocence and honesty, how could they have gone about creating a campaign that positively engage people with their brand?

  • Offer some content or service that I actively want, so that I go in search of the content rather than having it shoved at me.
  • Have it shared with me by someone whose motives I understand and whose judgement I trust.
  • Don't put that someone in the charged position of having to compete with others to raise money and win prizes, so the social dynamic they're in at the moment forces/tempts to sell out their judgment and their general willingness to honor my friendship and attention. Let them share it of their own free will, because it's good, funny, valuable, useful, intriguing, clever.
  • Invite people to contribute story, memory, personal meaning to a shared resource. The smell of fresh laundry is one of the very most evocative sensory experiences that people in the West have as a touchstone. How can you go wrong with that? How can you leverage that genuine feeling into a creative resource that makes people want to contribute?
  • remember that marketing is relationship building, and that people are increasingly rejecting non-genuine relationships.

  • posted by Miko at 11:35 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    The way to do it is to let it develop organically. Put the word out and then let people tweet or not tweet about the charitable T-shirt thing, but do not try to force the tweets! That always comes out badly. In other words, the way to do it is to not do it. If it's a good program, someone will tweet about. Others will tweet not. Attempt to force the outcome you must not.
    posted by Mister_A at 11:36 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Put very simply: be good so you don't have to try so hard to sound good.

    Obviously if you suck that's sort of a challenging maxim, but it's not the rest of the world's fault that you suck, and we shouldn't have to suffer for the sake of your identity crisis. Working on that not-sucking thing and get back to me when I'll be impressed without the help of a sales pitch.
    posted by cortex at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


    the way to do it is to not do it

    That is so Tao Te Ching.

    The highest good is like water.
    Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.

    posted by Miko at 11:49 AM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


    Put very simply: be good so you don't have to try so hard to sound good.

    Exactly. Back when I was on Netflix, I told everyone how awesome it was. I even tried to get my coworker and my f-i-l to switch from Blockbuster. I didn't do it because I was getting a plane ticket, I did it because I genuinely loved Netflix for how awesome it was and wanted to share.

    (The Netflix broke my heart by dropping the profiles thing. They called later to try to make up, but I realized they'd never really understood what made our relationship special so I just hung up.)
    posted by DU at 11:49 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Multi-billion-dollar multinational corporation convinces citizens to donate to charity by buying useless crap.
    posted by Sys Rq at 11:55 AM on March 12, 2009


    Wait, I thought this Twitter thing was like a joke. People actually use it?
    posted by troybob at 12:03 PM on March 12, 2009


    Second prize was two weeks in Cincinnati.
    First prize was one week in Cincinnati.
    posted by Ian A.T. at 12:11 PM on March 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


    You say microblogging I say douche bag enabler...
    posted by tommasz at 12:19 PM on March 12, 2009


    Can you believe digerati like John Battelle bought into shilling Proctor & Gamble

    I can't believe we're actually calling people "digerati".
    posted by JaredSeth at 12:23 PM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I've retweeted ______ in my timeline. Sure it probably annoys some of my followers, but I'm willing to risk being unfollowed if I can _____

    I love that this would have made no sense even one year ago. I'm sure it does now, though I only understand parts of it, but that's my own ignorance - I don't mean this in that cheap-luddite mock-confused way that translates to get-off-my-lawn. I mean I genuinely enjoy watching this spinning dance of language pointed at mediums pointed at language, mirrors at mirrors, culture and technology pointed at themselves and each other.

    Some dude missed a step and may have polluted the newest thing that was going to change everything? Hypercolor me shocked.
    posted by freebird at 12:38 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Wow, this is the first this has been used for this? For real?

    I have a deep seated indifference to Twatter, so forgive me for being ignorant of the workings of the site, but I would have figured it would have taken about 13 minutes to go from inception to SPAM gun.
    posted by dozo at 12:43 PM on March 12, 2009


    I don't see it as any kind of polluting of something pure. Sure, it's predictable. The point for me is that there's something to be learned if you want to use the medium without drawing negative attention for it - just as there was with newspapers, radio, TV, etc. In different media, different things draw negative attention. Sorting out the dross from the good content is also a problem in every medium. As far as learning a new medium, this is one of those instructive incidents.
    posted by Miko at 12:44 PM on March 12, 2009


    Miko, good points. Your method seems less sure, but for sure less likely to backfire. It would also take longer to see results, but probably have some legs to it and do good for quite some time.

    DU, Netflix lost me when they quit trusting me. When I first started I could drop the discs in the mail, jump online and say I dropped the discs in the mail. I'd get my new ones about the same time they got my returns. It was a relationship of beauty and trust.

    The turn around time got to be unacceptable to me, and where previously I'd shrug off a damaged disc, I quit after getting too many of these. It also didn't help that they didn't have a distribution center near me, so turn around was minimum 3 days.

    I also hate pop under ads, which is why I won't promote them on my site.

    It is too bad about the profiles thing. I didn't know that. I loved that feature.
    posted by cjorgensen at 12:48 PM on March 12, 2009


    John Battelle has been buying deeply into shilling for companies for a long time. He runs an advertising company, afterall, and one that's been very happy to blur the lines between crass advertising and social conversation. What, you forgot the People Ready™ campaign?

    But this one's OK because it's for charity! And for Tide. Too bad the charity wasn't tsunami relief or hurricane recovery or something, think of the cross-marketing opportunities. Join the conversation!
    posted by Nelson at 1:34 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    freebird, I felt this way (and still do) about text messaging. I can't stand the "Mt me @ 2 @ mall k" crap. I've since learned to do it, but not like the kids these days.

    dozo, it's a lot harder to spam on twitter due to the nature of twitter. Since you choose who to follow you can really only be "spammed" once. And by spamming I mean tricked into seeing the user's profile or timeline. After that you can block them and never notice they even exist. Twitter also does a laudable, if over zealous, job of removing the truly abusive users.

    Just because you don't like what someone is saying doesn't make it spam. These people tend to stick around, but again, you don't have to follow. Where I think they can go wrong is that they kill some legitimate account because the person was new and clueless, not malicious.
    posted by cjorgensen at 1:38 PM on March 12, 2009


    Your method seems less sure, but for sure less likely to backfire. It would also take longer to see results, but probably have some legs to it and do good for quite some time.

    I guess I wonder if it's a 'method' -- the first question is, for what. Someone asked how to build brand awareness without being annoying, and that would be my method. But if your actual goal is fundraising, then you're right, that's probably much too slow and maintenance-intensive a method. I don't think the ultimate goal of this project was really fundraising, which is one reason it is annoying. And I wouldn't recommend Twitter at all for this kind of hybrid campaign that's honestly more than half ad.

    I mean, part of using any media is understanding what type of campaign/approach is appropriate to what type of media. I'm not sure Twitter is appropriate for a fundraising campaign, at least not if used in this kamikaze way. If you want to raise money, and you have 150 influential, well-connected people, supporting your campaign, then you're crazy if you don't just get them on the phone making one-to-one contacts and asking for larger sums of money than $20 for a t-shirt. $4000 in 4 hours for 150 people is only $6.66 per hour. These folks wouldn't be surviving in either business or nonprofit if that were their average fundraising success rate.

    So there are two problems with this campaign, as I see it: the brand is pushing brand awareness most, which obscures the charitable aim, and that has led them to choose a medium better at building brand awareness than raising money -- at least as they used it. If they were truly interested in raising the money, this was not very effective. And if they were interested in building (positive) brand awareness, the nakedness of the marketing and the spamming of friends and followers became counterproductive.

    I guess it was worth trying so people could see where it failed. I am not a huge fan of cause marketing or of this kind of forprofit-nonprofit fundraising partnership in the first place, but people do argue that it does some good, so I don't generally run around attacking it either. The important thing is to get the ultimate outcomes into context. If the ultimate outcome really is to raise a lot of money for the cause, then here's how I would set up an experiment to use Twitter in a business/nonprofit partnership to raise money:

    1. Start with a nonprofit or grassroots charitable group that has something to do with your brand. Each organization should have something (knowledge, values, customers, reach) that has meaning for those affiliated with the other. Elevate them to the level of co-project leader with your brand and empower them to make decisions along with you throughout the campaign, about image, strategy, goals, and everything else. And make sure in promotions you use prominent co-billing with the partner to take the edge off the 'cause-marketing' feel. For examples, see partnership campaigns by Stonyfield Yogurt/American Farmland Trust or some of Ben & Jerry's partnerships, like with Common Cause.

    2. Recruit your team of participanting fundraisers not by seekrit invitation to the unsuspecting, but by using genuine social networks to find passionate people already in a relationship with those organizations and causes. Make sure they're believers to some degree. Get their willingness to fundraise. Provide them plenty of education about the partnership and its goals. Be sure they're convinced - that they believe this is a worthy project or cause.

    3. Set the date for your big Tweet-off, but allow those people to promote it beforehand using their networks. Let them get the date out there, prepare their friends, blog about it, answer people's questions, talk about, call the local media, whatever they can do to alert their own networks in advance that they are going to be part of this awesome stunt campaign. Post plenty of reminders the day before that here you go, the big fundraising gig is happening! Make sure you give when I tweet!

    4. Have the big tweet-off, and use all your concurrent media in the way Dave Armano was talking about - taking and uploading photos and video, having a dashboard posted online somewhere, etc - so your friends can follow your progress in realtime. As you go, share interesting content about your charitable cause - not just 'give more! give more!' but 'did you know that measles is the worldwide leading cause of death for children under 5?' and 'holy cow [personal reaction to something the speaker is saying]' and 'free coffee and donuts, awesome' and other statements that are both genuine and informative.

    5. Report out the results to everyone and send thanks.

    [6. $$PROFIT!!!!!$$]

    The difference I see in that method is that all the relationships are genuine, not guerilla spam attacks. You're building on an existing network that cares already or just needs to hear a little more to take action - which is basically the strategy of all fundraising. To make the most of fundraising in the Twitter medium I think you need advance awareness, additional web resources in lengthier form, interesting short content, transparency in both partnership and results, and people who are interesting enough or friendly enough for many others to follow and pay attention to.

    Does anyone know how the remainder of the $50K was raised? They talk about earning $50K and receiving a $50K match from Tide - but how did the other $44K get raised, when they only apparently sold 200 $20 t-shirts? I might be missing something, or misreading.
    posted by Miko at 1:45 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I am never washing my clothes again.
    posted by dirty hippie at 1:54 PM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


    There are people that stupid in the world? And other people are stupid enough to willingly sign up to get text messages from them?

    Maybe they can help me sell these candy bars so I can buy uniforms for my basketball team.
    posted by snofoam at 2:09 PM on March 12, 2009


    Miko, the Ad Age article says they spent about $4K (four teams, $1,000 budget limit for the stunt each?), and that they sold 2,000 t-shirts at $20 a pop.

    Which comes out to a net of $36K assuming the tshirts are pure profit (which they can't be, exactly, but let's presume for the rest of this paragraph that material and labor and shipping was either donated or swallowed). That's still short $14K from the supposed $50K raised (and purportedly matched).

    So, math isn't as bad as you thought, but it also doesn't add up, because:

    1. Where's that missing $14,000?, and
    2. Where did the cost of the t-shirts and associated handling come from?

    If anybody can answer those two questions, I'd be interested to hear what's up.
    posted by cortex at 2:12 PM on March 12, 2009


    (Of course, the $4K in expenses could be out-of-pocket on the part of the teams or something swallowed by the P&G organizers as well. So we could call it a missing $10,000 even, if you want to look at it that way.)
    posted by cortex at 2:13 PM on March 12, 2009


    I am never washing my clothes again.
    posted by dirty hippie


    Did you wash them before?
    posted by SirOmega at 2:18 PM on March 12, 2009


    only $6.66 per hour

    Regardless of the math in the end, even this vastly overstates the actual value of twittering for Proctor & Gamble Satan.
    posted by snofoam at 2:18 PM on March 12, 2009


    If phones had never existed and cell phones were a new invention, there would be a wave of people saying they don't understand cell phones or that cell phones are stupid, douche-bag enablers. And, yes, they would still be correct because your favorite communication tool sucks.
    posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:46 PM on March 12, 2009


    > John Battelle has been buying deeply into shilling for companies for a long time. He runs an advertising company, afterall, and one that's been very happy to blur the lines between crass advertising and social conversation.

    This is a conversation:
    John: Hey, Carl, you've got a speck on your shirt.
    Carl: Oh, thanks man. Hey, how are things going with you and the wife.
    John: Pretty well. Will we be seeing you tomorrow evening?
    Carl: Sure thing, John. I wouldn't miss your barbeque for the world.

    This is not a conversation:
    John: Hey, Carl, you've got a speck on your shirt.
    Carl: Oh, thanks man. Hey, how are things going with you and the wife.
    John: Pretty well. By the way, did you know Tide could take care of that speck?
    Carl: Um... No. Thanks for the knowledge. So-
    John: Tide can take care of all kinds of clothing stains and it also makes your whites whiter. That shirt of yours sure could use some whitening up, hey?
    Carl: I... guess it could...
    John: Tide's pretty kickass at making colors brighter too, like that silk tie of yours. You want a sample? I carry a few in a belt clip here...
    Carl: Hey, John, I forgot to mention, we can't make it for the barbeque tomorrow, my wife's got something the kids picked up and, you know how it is...
    John: No problem, no problem. Want me to drop something off for you? Some packets of Tide, maybe?
    Carl: Uh, no, that's fine-
    John: I can tell your wife about Tide clothing detergent too. She does your laundry, right?
    Carl: We take tur-
    John: Hey, it's okay if she's contagious. I'll just smear Tide Liquid Detergent over my face first and snort some powder, it'll protect me from those germs because of Tide's amazing antibacterial properties! You want to try some? I have a lotion tube full of it right here...
    Carl: Had I mention we'd moved recently?
    John: No kidding! Well hey, let me give you a housewarming gift of Tide! It adds a brilliant blue go to your jello salad! You wouldn't believe how much kids love blue jello salad! It helps clean them right out too, you know what I mean, har har!

    I don't think it's a blurry line at all.
    posted by ardgedee at 5:17 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I can't believe we're actually calling people "digerati".

    What you mean we, white man?
    posted by phearlez at 7:10 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Multi-billion-dollar multinational corporation convinces citizens to donate to charity by buying useless crap.

    I think it's more interesting that P&G got leaders of other huge corporations (one of which is the president of my company) to fly across the country and spend four hours hawking t-shirts, and then convinced them this was an honor.
    posted by scottreynen at 8:31 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    my digerati went to cincinnati and all i got was this lousy t-shirt
    posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 PM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I can't believe we're actually calling people "digerati".

    Pick up the phone -- it's Wired Magazine circa 1997 calling!
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:42 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


    So, math isn't as bad as you thought, but it also doesn't add up, because:

    1. Where's that missing $14,000?, and
    2. Where did the cost of the t-shirts and associated handling come from?

    If anybody can answer those two questions, I'd be interested to hear what's up.


    Relevant. From David Armano's blog:

    Here is the fine print. Because I want you informed. Full Disclaimer, P&G is a Critical Mass client. I was invited here to participate in their "Digital Hack Night" not knowing what the purpose was. [my emphasis] Now I know.

    Q. Where does the money for the t-shirts go?
    A. 100% of profits raised by Loads of Hope are spent in 2 ways 1) a donation to Feeding America (formerly known as America’s Second Harvest) to be spent on disaster relief and 2) to mobilize the Loads of Hope truck/ vans to send to communities affected by disaster.

    Q. How much are the profits from the t-shirts?
    A. A minimum of $4 from every t-shirt sale (on average, approximately $6 from every order) goes to support families affected by disaster. Profits increase as we sell more due to volume discounts and help in fixed costs. Tide passes all profits to the cause.

    Q. How can I get the Loads of Hope truck to my community?
    A. The number of natural disasters continues to rise, with 75 FEMA-declared disasters last year alone. While the Tide team unfortunately cannot respond to all of them, in the event of any natural disaster, Tide - in partnership with Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), FEMA, and other local and state agencies, officials, and relief organizations - assesses a series of criteria such as the number of people affected and the level of need for our services. Our goal is to mobilize our Loads of Hope program where we can be of the most help to others while ensuring the safety of our own staff and volunteers. Tide will also help bring hope throughout the year to many other natural disasters via its donations and support of Feeding America. You can help by going to www.TideLoadsofHope.com and purchasing a Tide Loads of Hope vintage t-shirt. All of the profits support families affected by disasters.

    Q. Who is Junk Food?
    A. Junk Food Clothing was founded in 1998 to create the perfect t-shirt: a vintage, soft-weathered tee that captures the essence of American pop-culture through licensed, retro-inspired graphics. Junk Food first partnered with Tide in 2007 to create the Loads of Hope vintage t-shirt. www.junkfoodclothing.com

    Q. Where are the Tide Vintage T-shirts made?
    A. All Tide Vintage T-shirts are made in the USA. Junk Food has 2 facilities in Los Angeles, CA that dye, sew and screen print the t-shirts.

    Q. What is the fabric blend of the t-shirts?
    A. All Tide Vintage t-shirts are 50% cotton/50% polyester blend.

    Q. What is the sizing for the women’s t-shirts?
    A. The women’s vintage t-shirts are created for a more fitted look. Please see the size chart in the previous slide for more information.

    Q. How much is shipping?
    A. With the purchase of one Tide Loads of Hope t-shirt, the standard shipping cost is $5.00. With the purchase of two or more t-shirts, the standard shipping costs are waived. Expedited shipping is $17.00 regardless of quantity purchased. Please see the above slide for additional shipping information.

    Let's take over the Web and make some money that will help people when they will need it most!


    So... essentially it states that the shirts sell for $20 plus $5 for s&h and that [brand; corp.] contributes $4 per shirt. That is $21 to produce and mail out a tee that is being produced in quantities of tens of thousands by a company professionally familiar with mass production.

    An individual could do better than that printing up 200 (as opposed to 20,000) of exactly the same tee. The scale of economy is grossly out of whack. I would have expected some of the attendees to know better. What more, I'd be interested to learn if anyone "invited" turned down their invite, and who attending – if anyone – refused to be played.

    posted by humannaire at 9:47 PM on March 12, 2009


    So, taking the conservative $4 profit per shirt against the purported 2,000 shirts sold that's a net of $8,000? Say it does scale up a bit, let's split the difference at $5 a shirt, $10K take—suddenly we're missing not $10,000 but $40,000 from that "we raised $50,000" figure.

    Where's the other $40K? Is P&G matching the gross or the net? This continues not to make sense.
    posted by cortex at 9:54 PM on March 12, 2009


    In a conveniently timely fashion, some people I have been working with a teeny bit posted this great little "social media and nonprofits" slide show this morning. It is much simpler and clearer and better in every way than my laborious comments.
    posted by Miko at 8:14 AM on March 13, 2009


    P.S. It kind of staggers me that so many of the invited [koff] digerati seem to think this was just terrific in every way and a real success. I'm sure they have fun, but if this was an 'experiment,' why the lack of critical analysis - at least from people who were there? I suppose they can't really get into that or they may find they aren't invited to future experiments.

    Here's an interesting response from someone who is asking whether this means that employees should be asked to "leverage their personal brands" for companies they work for.

    Here's a summary that links to some "dissenting opinions."

    I realize my stance is probably very, very overcritical. It does seem as though legions of the unconvinced are now sitting up and going 'oh wow, look what's possible,' which is good if it means that my industry catches on. It's just that if this style and mode becomes the standard and ends up being adopted by nonprofits in this less nuanced form, it could definitely create some harm or at least be a seriously missed opportunity for building relationships for nonprofits. Every day now I've started to watch dozens of museums on Twitter and FaceBook especially, and it's really clear which ones are just saying "Sign up for our Wednesday night program! Registration open now!" and which are saying "Here's a beautiful picture of the museum's waterfront today." "Here are the red-tailed hawks nesting outside our office door [Franklin Institute]." "Here's a Twitter-only 2-for-1 coupon." "How awesome is this painting? He made it when he was 87." "Hey, the red-tailed hawks laid an egg and here it is!" "And oh, by the way, next Wednesday is our late-night gallery event." Guess whose event I want to go to?
    posted by Miko at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2009


    i am so done with social media marketers. y'all are peeing in the pool.

    --Heather Champ, on Twitter
    posted by Nelson at 11:12 AM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Here's a decent summary and link-collection from one of the participants; does a decent job of at least acknowledging some of the ups and downs of the thing, though as always it's kind of hard to credit the tone a little when "oh, and P&G is totally my client" is on the table.

    Also, from that, white people rapping about Tide.
    posted by cortex at 12:56 PM on March 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


    One of the themes running through a lot of the blogging and comments I've been reading on this:

    Folks who were involved, acknowledge having weird/conflicted/bad feelings about having been involved, but then kind of forcefully (and for the benefit of, who, themselves? Their readers?) reject those negative feelings on vague premises.

    "Hey, it was for charity though, right?"
    "Hey, it was kind of interesting, right?"

    Another writeup worth reading is this one, from Brian Morrissey, which seems like the de facto Critical Blog Entry that's been making the rounds. (He's not the only one who has been critical, but he seems to have gotten the most attention for it.)

    The comments are pretty good, a mix of critical stuff and defenses, Armano shows up there as well. P&G, too; there's a comment from Stan Joosten ("Innovation Manager - Holistic Communication Procter & Gamble") that aims for a super-positive spin on the whole thing and bullet points some Things That Were Learned, all of which are these kind of dead-obvious stuff you would hope they would either know already or could have learned without a big complicated stunt. But, hey, at least they're talking, right?

    I also got into a conversation with a guy on twitter who was arguing that (a) Ad Age is the bad guy here for actually talking about what was going on and that (b) it'd be better for all involved if everything but the charity angle had been kept totally secret. What "better" means and who "all involved" includes were my main questions—we went back and forth a little, but this is definitely one spot where 140 characters isn't enough to have a satisfying discussion and I didn't really feel like inviting Random Marketing Guy over to my place for a cup of coffee, so to speak.
    posted by cortex at 4:00 PM on March 13, 2009


    And a writeup from one of four Forrester analysts who were there for the event; she declares herself cynical on review of the event—though not about P&G's choices but rather about social media's utility. One interesting bit:
    The big deals were relationship sales. My team sold a lot of onesies and twosies, but what really moved our dashboard were a few 50 and 100 t-shirt sales. And these deals were made personally through phone calls to contacts who might need matching shirts in volume for teams, schools, work groups -- not through digital/online outreach.
    Which you can frame as a good reason to be cynical of using social media networks for an advertising blitz (and I think that's more or less what she is saying, hence her "cynicism"), but which from over here in Non-Marketingville is just salt in the wound: P&G's stunt involved a bunch of frenzied crapping on social media networks and that wasn't even the effective part of the push.

    And another amusing note, here: I've seen this piece of comment spam show up in at least two comment threads on different sites discussing the P&G thing. It's obvious spam at a glance, but there it sits in all its spammy glory, undeleted. Is this lazy blog management, or the result of spending so much time around promotion (self- or otherwise) that you become inured to even obvious shilling?
    posted by cortex at 4:20 PM on March 13, 2009


    I'm sure they have fun, but if this was an 'experiment,' why the lack of critical analysis - at least from people who were there?

    This is the web and New Media. Metrics, analysis, and grading off the curve are Old Media.

    Unfortunately, in this, 1997 isn't usually calling. It's still hanging around on the couch, watching tv youtube and drinking our beer pepsi blue.
    posted by phearlez at 4:29 PM on March 13, 2009


    Man, that spryka dude sure has been on twitter for about 3 weeks now, yes sirree.
    posted by cortex at 4:34 PM on March 13, 2009


    salt in the wound: P&G's stunt involved a bunch of frenzied crapping on social media networks and that wasn't even the effective part of the push.

    I don't understand; how is this salt in the wound? Would you prefer crapping on social networks to be effective? I'll be glad if they actually learn the lesson that this kind of thing doesn't work. But I can't say I'm optimistic that'll happen.
    posted by scottreynen at 5:11 PM on March 13, 2009


    Heh, I found that critical entry today too and was thinking about it. Armano's comment:

    In short, yes your view is smart, accurate but in the end could be a bit cynical. I think the tone of the event might be turning you off to the outcome.

    So the outcome, if the math works out which has not yet been shown, is $100K to the charity. Does Armano in all his digital wisdom not think that 150 smart, connected people could raise that without P&G's involvement? For a national charity project with the investment that P&G made here (not the t-shirts -- everything else, the staggering amount of staff time, venue rental, IT support, for which we aren't seeing the price tag), $100 is not a terribly amazing outcome. And they should really be honest about what that amounts to once all the indirect costs are accounted for - it's likely this cost P&G much more in salary than the donation amount.

    Armano also says:

    I'm biased because I participated. But you should have seen the P&G folks who were looking over our shoulders watching everything we were doing. They were taking notes and learning.

    ...oh, yeah, I am sure they were! They'd be foolish not to, since the invitees were doing your 'look what I can do!' dance for free...

    And P&G kicked in a few bucks to a charity. Is this all really as bad and icky as you make it out to be?

    It depends. How much would you have charged them to show them the same stuff as a hired consultant? Subtract that from the donation total right now. They got a ton of relay from this, a ton of free consulting, and basically used a room full of people to raise a fairly unexceptional sum as the world of corporate giving goes. Who's zooming who here? Or was everyone's back sufficiently scratched that we don't really want to look too closely? You can't say anything negative about this campaign if you're hoping you put on a good enough show to be invited back to deliver the staff seminars later.

    It was recently noted that P&G's sales are dropping and they see cause marketing as an important strategy for staying afloat. Overall, this yeartheir matching gifts have been reduced, not increased.

    There is a tremendous amount of naivete in all these blog posts about the world of corporate donations and corporate giving programs, and how little a chunk of the pie the $40 or $50K that was raised actually is, even when the $50K from P&G was added. It's just not that significant an amount of money when it's looked at in context. It seems that no one has taken the trouble to put the money raised in any kind of perspective that references reality. Looking at some corporate giving reporting sites, it looks like P&G's average grant amount - that's grant, with no production values to pay for - is $10-25,000, direct to recipient. On this list of sample grants you can see that they've given outright amounts much greater than this project raised -- $200,000 to an education charity in Cambridge, $175 to Second Harvest (what Feeding America used to be called), more than $725K to Cincinnati's Fine Arts Fund (which completely explains my email!), $275K to the National Council of Negro Women...these are just the samples. This data only goes to 2005, and in that year alone they paid out more than $25 million in corporate grants. In short, this is not a company that needed the help. There is not even a case that this created some benefit that P&G couldn't have created on their own by the simple application of will. And the room full of Twitterers was not making a huge contribution - even if giving was flat with 2005, this amounts to 1/250th of just the grant program. They could have given everybody in the room a fabulous seminar and asked for a $700 donation from each and come out far ahead of what actually happened.

    This was a stunt for P&G to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in free consulting, staff training, and demo, and to accumulate knowledge which will come in very handy as they continue to pursue that cause-marketing strategy. Oh, and a whole lot of unearned income in the form of free PR.

    All that, and Armano calls the charity itself only a "decent" cause. Is all this effort worth it for a "decent" cause? I feel so sorry that some really enterprising, truly worthy nonprofit - Oxfam America? Someone like that - was not the architect and beneficiary of all this wonderfulness.

    As it stands, it seems to me like a lot of digerati got played.
    posted by Miko at 5:37 PM on March 13, 2009


    Just came across this cartoon:Social Media 1 Night Stand.

    It's funny how following this around, all the ad/marketing blogs are like LALALALA CAN'T HEAR YOU !GREAT SUCCESS! and everyone else is holding their nose.

    Armano on Twitter: "P&G learned a lot. Critics didn't like how the whole thing felt."
    posted by Miko at 5:54 PM on March 13, 2009


    It kind of staggers me that so many of the invited [koff] digerati seem to think this was just terrific in every way and a real success.

    "Proctor and Gamble want me!!! Who's 'just' internet famous now, dad?!?"

    *Shakes fist at nearby urn*
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:39 PM on March 13, 2009


    I don't understand; how is this salt in the wound? Would you prefer crapping on social networks to be effective? I'll be glad if they actually learn the lesson that this kind of thing doesn't work. But I can't say I'm optimistic that'll happen.

    Yeah, you kind of hit on why I'm calling it a salted wound, here:

    It'd be one thing if the unanimous conclusion was a cynical "oh, well, social media isn't a platform for effective Cause Marketing, let's not ever do this again". I could take that as a silver lining and run with it I guess: at least they'll all fuck off and stop pulling twittergasms and incurring collateral damage ala mefi spamming.

    But we've got a dozen people saying "hey, this was an awesome experience" for each person saying "frankly, the social media spamming we just did was ineffective."

    So we've got a dozen people apparently willing to take a crap on social networks again, and in the meantime one person acknowledging what a fucking waste of effort that is. So, no, I don't believe they've learned the lesson, even though the lesson is there. That sucks.
    posted by cortex at 12:25 AM on March 14, 2009


    Coming back in, I'm amazed to see how many people took advantage of what P&G offered and and ran with it and are now justifying their actions by throwing their hands up and saying, "Hey, it was for charity!"

    If it smells bad, it usually is bad, and most of the bloggers I know, at least, did not elect to participate in this precisely because it smelled fishy, though the rewards we were offered for doing so weren't even at the same level as the corporate sleazes who DID run with it.

    Puts me in mind of the old joke of "now we are just haggling over the price."
    posted by misha at 7:58 AM on March 15, 2009


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