I like stealth marketing campaigns, viral campaigns, ARGs, what ever you want to call them. When done well, they challenge and engage, provoke comment and get people involved. They are fun. But with this latest one from Court TV, the buzz is there but so are the potential problems.
Behind the scenes we have PR, media buyers, technical teams and the agency people out pretendind they are Emily – ‘she’ was outside Pennn Station in New York yesterday handing out fliers. There’s a thatgirlemilyblog that’s getting linked to, outdoor posters that are getting plenty of notice and comment and probably all other stuff in the works. So far so good. Everything is working out right.
But a few boundaries were overstepped and that could have the wrong implications for the brand and the agency. There’s a hint of astroturfing or just plain stupidness. Emily was out on the blogs and message boards spinning her tale and getting tea and sympathy back. But as with Cillit Bang, it’s not the best thing to be out and about posting as a character in places that don’t expect it. ARGs do this…but a working practice appears to have arisen – there are ways to get attention and not piss people off in the wrong place. ‘Emily’ has hurt some of the people who read and enjoy these boards…not the greatest result.
A second mistake with this campaign – they should have done a little more research and not used an identity that already exists. thatgirlemily already has a presence on message boards and other sites. Her online profile is now messed up with this one and I would not be too pleased at that as the buzz aroud the fake Emily is probably not what the real Emily would like.
I finding myself getting angry at this campaign, most likely a slightly over the top response, but agencies doing these things badly makes it more difficult to get compnaies to even touch these types of campaigns. I strongly beleive they work well when done well. done badly and clumsily like this one means that the whole industry gets tarred with the same brush.