One of the sad side effects of the social media revolution is that too many brand marketers want us to love them. And it is getting embarrassing to watch. Zuckerberg was right, even if he didn’t know it, when inventing Facebook. Life is really just high school extended into adulthood. Watching brands trip over themselves on Facebook and Twitter in the struggle to be liked just recalls the cringe-inducing teen ritual of trying to appeal to the cool kids. We just got through the Super Bowl and entertainment awards season, which we might liken to prom season where brands dress to impress. They want so much to be in on the fun they twist themselves into knots to get noticed by an in-crowd (that would be us, for once) that just don’t care.
I know it is a bit of a drumbeat with me, but I think brands would be much better off (no, we would be much better off) if marketers stopped trying to be liked. If all of you are so hellbent on spending billions of dollars on us, how about just underwriting a bit of fun? Give us stuff to play with.
It is a little thing, but I like the social media tchotchke that Heineken threw at us the other day in a contest aligned with their Tribeca Film Festival sponsorship. The company is inviting people to Tweet movie pitches to a #15secondpremiere hashtag. The winner gets their idea made into a very short subject film that he or she introduces at the Festival. Heineken frames the idea a bit more oddly than is necessary, I think. The Brand Director for the companies events and sponsorships Pattie Falch positions the idea as an invitation or couch potatoes to get out of their “comfort zone” “with a really interesting albeit nerve-racking, offline experience at Tribeca Film Festival.” The premise is that the winner will be subjected to the scrutiny of actual moviemakers and have to answer questions about their idea from the audience.
Only the marketers really believe the contest part of
these programs matter. It is really the exercise and the creativity the contest help surface. To wit:
“Scientists find flaw in the human eye. Roses are in fact brown and violets are orange. Bad poets try to kill scientist” offers @milwallbrick
“Standing in the woods alone & her hands bloody, she knew she had to kill to survive. The twist? Rabid wolves,” pens @azblocki
“As much explosions, beautiful women, money and drugs you can fit into 15 seconds,” says @brokenhepf**k
“A terminally ill billionaire will his estate to whoever kills him – sparking a nationwide manhunt in ASSASSINATION NATION,” writes @visibleotters
“An oatmeal cookie has feelings for his neighbor, banana, but his abusive father, avocado, won’t allow him to date her,” from @RussellLeslie14
Perhaps not American genius at work, but a good deal more fun than most brand posts. All they need to do it get some of the best stuff off of Twitter. Buy media against it. Call it a day.
To paraphrase myself in 140 characters or less: stop trying to get us to like you -- just give us things we like to do.