Bank of America is Your Sweet But Senile Grandmother on Twitter

momDigiday writer Saya Weissman lists Bank of America in the top-5 brand fails on Twitter, and I just had my own amusing experience with the bank. Today’s lesson for brands is simple: while it can’t hurt to integrate your customer service help desk with your social media efforts, you probably shouldn’t have customer service reps manning the Twitter voice.

I’d characterize Bank of America’s Twitter voice as “well intentioned but lacking mental clarity.” But we can’t judge or condemn the bank! It’s kinda like an aging grandmother who may not be completely lucid, but she certainly means no harm.

Weissman’s gave BOA a “fail” because the bank provided a human but robotic response (“we’d be happy to review your account“) to tweets by activist Mark Hamilton (@darthmarkh). Hamilton, of course, wasn’t exactly keen to discuss an account. He had been tweeting about being chased away from a Bank of America by cops… it seems Hamilton had been drawing an anti-foreclosure message on the sidewalk.

My recent experience with the bank was almost as strange. Yesterday I saw that Bank of America television commercial (“Flowers“) featuring a dude bringing his gal a bouquet of flowers. Inexplicably the dude decides just one flower will do, so he leaves the rest in his cab.

My reaction to the ad wasn’t quite “I need to open a Bank of America account.” I was more thinking “I wonder what the next cab passenger thought when he found a bouquet of flowers in an otherwise empty cab?” So I tweeted: “I found the rest of the dude’s flowers in a cab. Can I keep them?” I didn’t expect a response, and frankly I was pleased to have one.

Naturally, my Tweet made absolutely no sense to anyone but me. That’s quite often my MO on Twitter. So we can’t blame Bank of America for asking for account details for clarity, right (“I’m not sure I understand the question… please send me a DM with more detail.” It’s just an odd response that sounds more SIRI than human. The logic appears to be: “when in doubt, a comment about our bank is probably an inquiry to discuss an account.” Hey that’s cool, though. The next time I have a problem with my account… I’ll just tweet something like: “increase my credit by $5K.”

Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother
Bank of America on Twitter: Your confused but sweet grandmother

 

 

 

Dr. Who BBC America Campaign: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

As Hannibal used to say on A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

I love it when a (integrated media) plan comes together.

One of the most rewarding things about participating in online-video campaigns for big brands or network shows is seeing these launch simultaneously with television and print advertisements. We call it “integrated marketing,” and it’s easy in concept and difficult but wonderful in fruition. Okay, I like the payments better, but integrated marketing is still rare enough to be a pleasant surprise… especially when it involves “new media” and social. Of course, it’s difficult for a marketer or agency to time precisely a campaign’s “peak” in various mediums, given paid “insertion orders” (formal booking of space in media) often requires months of lead time. Likewise the “books” (magazines) can require months of advance notice.

I noticed that our YouTube GE Healthymagination campaign was timed well with a series of television spots, and most recently I’ve seen it on BBC America’s launch of Dr. Who (my video below was titled “Time Travel Fail, “What Year Do You Miss,” and “What Would You Do if You Had a Time Machine?” (thanks munchvids for the video response… it’s sad that those don’t get more real estate when the video plays).

The YouTube videos included time-travel themed videos, and included branded ads for Dr. Who

I wasn’t the only part of this campaign, and I’m writing this without any inside knowledge of the agency, budget, timing or execution. Hats of to MysteryGuitarman for this epic video that was also part of the campaign. I’m especially impressed that he found a “rotary pay phone” and managed to add a LED screen. And Joe, it’s making me crazy that you’ve managed to multiply yourself with better special effects than I see in most movies (Freaky Friday, Multiplicity). Vsauce’s video actually made me think, and TheStation participated with “Waiter Takes Out Restaurant.” Check out the whole series (a link to YouTube videos tagged ifIHadaTimemachine, then ranked by views).

The very week these YouTube videos launched, I noticed a prime print advertisement in Entertainment Weekly, a NYC “out of home” component,” and some “earned” media uptake (PR). Furthermore, the YouTube “branded entertainment” video series were wrapped with display and InVideo ads.

I like these “organic” YouTube campaigns that don’t force the brand in the webstar’s videos, but let the creator carry the campaign theme in their own way. The comments I’ve read are largely positive (a contrast from campaigns that require sponsored YouTube videos to have a branded slate at the intro, which is so forceful as to scare people away).

What can producers, networks, agencies and YouTube do to make these campaigns work even harder? A few ideas, but they all have executional nuances so it’s a bit unfair for me to “Monday morning quarterback.” Again- I know nothing more than what I’ve seen as a Dr. Who fan (and the very simple directions got via YouTube to make my video).

  1. Cross-link the videos so Dr. Who fans (I know you’re out there because many of you noticed the picture on my son Charlie’s shirt) would be able to move through them without having to leave YouTube (only a few percent of people leave a YouTube session for an ad, and that’s when there’s a strong reason).
  2. I would suggest the digital agency also run paid-search ads for related keywords (even though I doubt there are loads of people searching “time machine” and “ifihadatimemachine” the cost of that inventory would be minimal). I’d certainly be buying ads for those people searching for “Dr Who, BBC America” and related terms, which would help get more eyes on the campaign website: “TimeMachineTales.” Buzz drives search, and it’s a shame to see Amazon books rank higher than the 2011 version of the timeless show.
  3. Take advantage of YouTube’s “live” programming to augment the April 23 premier with something real time (perhaps one of the webstars watches the debut and invites interaction with fellow fans). If MysteryGuitarMan said he was going live on YouTube on the evening of April 23, I imagine hundreds of thousand would follow.
  4. Recognize that the YouTube aspect of the campaign is valuable far beyond the campaign. For instance, my Fringe promotions have accumulated significant views long after the debut. There’s a perpetual nature to these programs. As Hitviews CEO Walter Sabo says, “Campaign Duration: Forever.” The 105 videos his company has delivered for brands have accumulated in excess of 30 million views.
  5. Finally the real way to “break the fourth wall” is to allow a television show’s cast to interact and collaborate with prominent YouTube creators. This can be difficult, but possible. In the case of my “Meet the Fringe Cast” video, I simply learned the cast was at ComicCon, and I convinced the sponsor (Fox) to allow me the same access the network/producers gave to professional media. In another example, we saw V’s “Anna” (Morena Baccarin) appear on YouTube’s homepage with a custom message for YouTubers, and that was a “bar raising” move. Now imagine iJustine mingling with Mark Sheppard, which would carry as much weight as a local media tour to promote the show. iCarly’s Freddy Benson (Nathan Cress) met with YouTube’s prolific “ShayCarl/Shaytards” in a casual meeting that I would have paid to facilitate if I was Cress’ manager or iCarly’s promoter.
  6. Lastly, and this is really difficult, it would be great to find ways to permit clips from the show intermixed with the YouTube videos. For very good reasons this is rare. Often the network promoting the show doesn’t have the rights to use the content in promotion. The benefit, however, is you can give people a contextual teaser of the show’s actual content… as I did with “Fringe is Scary.” These clips were approved by the producer (JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot) for use with media, and I even snuck in some very tiny snippets beyond those in the media library.
IF I HAD A TIME MACHINE hosts tweets and videos related to the campaign

I’m sure it was not part of the campaign that Elisabeth Sladen died this week (she’s the British actress who played intrepid investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith throughout the classic BBC series’ 30-year run). But only one Guy calls those shots, and he’s not much of a marketer (thank God).

Help Best Buy Claim “Worst Company in America”

It’s against some difficult competition this year (BP, Toyota), but I’m rooting for Best Buy to win the coveted Consumerist.com “Worst Company in America” (see brackets). Just scan the Consumerist archives for Best Buy and Geek Squad to see all the proof you’ll need.

We honored the consumer-electronic megafirm with the dubious WillVideoForFood 2010 “Greatest Corporate Social-Media Collapse” award, and were pleased to turn down a request to promote the company’s highly criticized “buy back” program you’ve perhaps seen so whimsically advertised on television (3D and 4D dad gets called “silly head”).

With apologies to the Geek Squad members that are competent and have social skills, the service division of Best Buy has done great things to secure Best Buy’s rise in its “worst company” bracket. And hey- it needs only beat Radio Shack initially. How hard can that be?

In the spirit of social-media transparency, my support of Best Buy in this race is motivated by this episode. More importantly, Best Buy’s decision to completely ignore my communication… and allow me to pay a ticket/fine for smiling and handing a Geek Squad driver my business card to explain why I videotaped him (which he reported to the police as a threat).

I’ll let you know when it’s time to vote!

YouTube Reaches All-Time High

We Americans watched nearly 34 billion videos in May, and 14.6 billion (43 percent) were on YouTube. According to comScore (source: TechCrunch), 144.1 million viewers watched an average of 101.2 videos per viewer in May. Hulu ranked second with 3.5 percent share. The gap between Google and Hulu remains strong, and it’s safe to say you’re watching video on YouTube or… the long tail.

Debtors Revolt (Ann vs. Bank of America)

Ann is a 46-year-old mother and mental-health professional and self described “conservative liberal, or liberal conservative, closet science nerd, shoe-addict, and beauty product-junkie.” She says she’s met her  credit card balance limits and paid routinely, but that didn’t stop Bank of America from jacking up her interest rate to a whooping 30%.

So she took her story to YouTube in a video titled “Debtors Revolt Begins Now,” and it’s the highest-rated video of the week in YouTube’s “non-profit, activism” category. 140,000 people have watched her story, and the video received more than 1,700 positive & controversial comments, and was rated nearly 2,000 times (averaging a 4.73 out of 5).  In a follow-up September 11 video, she reacts to the viral response to her video, crediting her viewers and God.

She’s calling it civil disobedience, and many of her video replies indicate people are joining her cause. Dozens of blogs are linking to her video:

Dozens of websites & blogs link to the "Debtors Revolt"
Dozens of websites & blogs link to the "Debtors Revolt"
  • The Market Ticker’s Karl Denninger said “She’s spot-on, in my opinion, and if you, through no fault of your own (you’re NOT a deadbeat) have had this happen to you, then I fully support doing exactly what she is – tell ’em to get stuffed. Do realize that civil disobedience has consequences, but it also brings a huge breath of fresh air into your life!”
  • Of course comments vary, including this one posted an hour ago: “Debtors revolt? Are you f’ing kidding me? Is this a parody? You invoke the founding fathers’ ideals and in the same breath bitch about credit usage? Seriously? Don’t want high interest rates? DON’T F’ING USE CREDIT. You don’t have a fundamental right to low interest rates or easy access to credit. You made your bed; lie in it. Enjoy the shitty credit” (by dontfrostthepie).”
  • The majority of the comments are supportive, like this one thevickithomas“Congratulations for taking a stand on the outrageous fees charged by bank run credit card companies. I share the same feelings about my closed Chase card. I join with you and others who are willing to stand up to the inept bank ceo leaders that have not be held accountable for their failed actions. One day they will regret how they have treated customers — when they suddenly realize they need us.”

My two cents? A good reminder that one poorly treated customer can rock a corporation, and it’s somewhat comforting to know that banking has replaced  pharmaceuticals for most-despised among Americans. I never much cared for banks.

Sponsored Fun or Selling Out? Comedy Duo On Road Trip for Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz.

rhett and link buffet songRhett and Link, comedic video amateurs, are mountaineering above the overhang of “The Great Cliff of New-Media Sponsored Advertising.” They’re harnessed to each other with a taut rope, knotted with creativity. The friends swing effortlessly to the next hold in a pendulum traverse. Rhett knows the objective danger as he firmly grabs his nub, and Link’s total attention is committed to spotting him. Their eyes lock, then gaze slowly down upon the falling spree at the mountain’s base. It would be a perilous drop to their death (is that ZeFrank’s skeleton?). But they both smile, knowing full well that they’ll live to see another climb.

[Editorial addition 6/20 9 pm EST: Rhett and Link have an insightful comment below] In their latest celebration of corporate sponsorship, the singing and acting duo present this hysterical video called “The Buffet Song.” It’s a song parody about all-you-can-eat buffets. Now there’s *every reason* I should have known this was a sponsored video:

  1. It was clear on the video’s description and it was a reply to a video about the Alka Seltza tour.
  2. I received this from them via e-mail, and it was explained as a video that it’s part of their of “Great American Road Trip Series” sponsored by Alka Seltzer.
  3. Heck I even last week agreed via e-mail to meet them in Philly (Pat and Gino’s Cheesesteaks) for a video that they said was part of some Alka Seltzer series. They wrote, “It’s part of our Alka Seltzer road trip gig…. We’re still developing the angle so if you’re interested, you can weigh in as we develop it.” I took that as a fun challenge, and began soliciting others to collaborate. See- sometimes it’s not all about the money. Maybe they’ll have free samples.

But then, like, Yipes, Scoob… I opened this video above, and all of that awareness vanished — just like those pain pangs of overindulgence when met by a delciously effervescent glass of heartburn and indigestion medication.

In fact, I’d like to take you sequentially through my experience, which is something I can’t stand in a conversation. I’m always telling my wife, “you’re burying the lead again, Jo… I don’t need to know about how much change the post office gave you before the freak you saw on the way out. Just tell me about the freak.” But now I digress…

To read about my sequential experience wrapping my small brain around this video campaign, click MORE (bottom left corner of this blog – right above the “share” link”). Trust me, it’s worth it.

alka seltzer

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