The importance of being Flog

Walmart blog
© Gaping Void

From WalMart to Sony, we’ve witnessed lately a surge of blogs as a accessible medium to spread a marketing message. Even in Portugal, a relatively quiet country in digital marketing stunts, there was a timid essay on flogs by Vodafone, when their ad agency Brandia Central published a flog to spread a viral video, a copycat of the Marc Ecko/Air Force One Tagging Video by Droga5.

One of the reasons these campaigns seem to backfire is mostly a matter of speech since these brands just don’t talk the walk of blogs, and their traditional ad agencies haven’t figured out the right way to engage bloggers and their readers. If you’re a hip product or service, you might even get a positive return, but if you’ve never been trendy or socially responsible, as soon as bloggers spot you’re trying to fool them, you’re history.

My advice is much of the morale on the play by Oscar Wilde, “The importance of being Ernest”: you can even pretend a lot, but at least be amusing. You can’t fool them (bloggers) forever, so you’d better come upfront with disclaimers and let them play with your message. As in the character Ernest, sooner or later people will find the truth, so have your B-plan ready just in case anything goes wrong, with some spare Public Relations available.

As in the plot, Ernest has a lot of witty comments, so any brand should come up with interesting little breadcrumbs that provide leads to the website. Take for example the grassroots effort by music band Nine Inch Nails, that created a myriad of websites with obscure meaning and latter did some smart guerrilla marketing in their concerts (starting here in Lisbon).

After all, flogs aren’t evil, but their purpose might be. Consumers don’t appreciate being fooled our interrupted, but they enjoy a great story, a challenge or riddle, something that makes them curious. The bad press for flogs came mostly from companies that tried to push their messages into mediums that they clearly didn’t understood, viewing blogs as a cheap way to set some initial seeders for their viral marketing efforts. As in a theater play, we all know it’s fiction, but while they’re acting they’d better be damn good at it, or we’ll not going to spread the message to our friends.

As for bloggers, the well thought flogs might be a great opportunity to join into a profitable conversation. A well planed campaign, rewarding to bloggers as in a regular media plan, will surely make everyone happy. Advertising has long been using fake stories, way before blogs were born, so my advice to bloggers is that they should get used to these techniques as long as brands dont’t try to “bunbury” their true identity and respect the blog community.

2 thoughts on “The importance of being Flog

  1. The huge difference in the NIN case is that it’s not just a marketing thing. It’s also a way to spread a message. Most artists are spreading it trough the music, or the concerts. Trent just decided to take it one step further. People are getting more involved, and they’re becoming more aware of that message. Also, in this case, it hasn’t started from the “outside”. It started from two t-shirts sold at shows, so people knew it was NIN all along. Nobody came along and said “hey take a look at this website” like in the Vodafone case.

    And yes, i’m biased. I’m a NIN junkie, and i’m deeply involved in the ARG 🙂

  2. by the way, optimus have done a ‘guerrilla’ action also. like the NIN campaign, pendrives were placed in restaurants and bars. inside, one could find links to a myspace page, a blog, an optimus site ( – protected by password) and a youtube video. imho, it’s even worse than vodafone’s flog.

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