A Tweet’s Worth of Free Advertising, or You Get What You Pay For

“I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, … [it] is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.” — Mitt Romney

“There’ll always be those who earn more than I do, and I say, God bless them. I’m sure they work hard, did what was necessary to get ahead and should not be penalized for or feel ashamed of their accomplishments.”  Bernard Goldberg

“I have a great relationship with the blacks.”  Donald Trump

 

The super rich are idiots.

It’s not really their fault. It’s kind of like how you can’t blame a 7-year-old from Miami for getting his tongue stuck to an aluminum fence post during a freak hard freeze. There are some issues certain people can’t wrap their heads around because they’ve never really had to put two and two together in that particular configuration.

You probably don’t know any billionaires. If you live in my home state of Louisiana, you really only have one billionaire that you might even get to meet, that being Tom Benson, the owner of the Saints and Pelicans. At least he is for now, until either his trophy wife or granddaughter can convince the courts that the professional sports teams belong to either one of them because old Tommy’s in love/crazy.

The fact that a man with 87 years behind him and a $2 billion empire beneath him is having to deal with succession issues any of us could see coming a mile away should give you insight into the mindset of your average super-wealthy individual. That being, they think they’re geniuses despite a complete inability to function in the real world were they dropped into it without any means of support.

Again, this is more our (the common people, and if you pull in less than $250,000 a year, that includes you, despite what the millionaires trying to garner votes tell you to the contrary) fault than theirs. There is a certain power that is inherent in great wealth.

Money buys things. Things are awfully nice. People like things. People are awfully nice to money.

Wealthy people think everyone will buy anything they say because their opinion is always the right one. Because that’s what we’ve been telling them.

Sometimes that awfully niceness translates into toadying and becoming a yes man in the hopes that you can stay on money’s good side and profit from it, perhaps even becoming money yourself one day. Money is aware of this, but over time is unable to differentiate between genuine compliments and ass-kissing and begins to believe everything it’s being told.

Wealthy people think everyone will buy anything they say because their opinion is always the right one. Because that’s what we’ve been telling them.

I’ve known several millionaires, and all of them are certain that everyone respects their opinions. That may be true when it comes to certain aspects of their businesses, but beyond that, they are painfully clueless.

It doesn’t take long to get there, either. If you went to college and lived off ramen noodles for a week, you might have an idea how it happens if you currently have a decent job and eat three times a day. Check the feeling in your gut when a guy in nicer sneakers than yours holds up a sign asking for change at a stop light.

Certain things (like balanced meals) become the norm, and anyone who doesn’t live in your “norm” just isn’t trying hard enough. Their circumstances are inconsequential.

Now, imagine that you only cook occasionally for fun in a kitchen that costs more than the average American home. Imagine your everyday set of wheels has a base price of $100,000, needs to be in the shop at least once a month because warning lights are always going off, and the only inconvenient thing about it in your mind is having to adjust the seat on the loaner they give you when they make the $2,000 repair. Imagine not being sure if tipping a bellhop $100 for carrying your luggage is too much or too little.

I know people with these problems. It tends to redirect one’s values.

Thanks to Citizens United, Tom Benson doesn’t need to feel so lonely in the Bayou State. He’s got wealthy buddies with names like Entergy, Pool Corp., and Albemarle who feel his pain because they are, in fact, people just like him, individuals with thoughts and feelings.

Advertisers are attempting to get you to provide free advertising for them by equating it to you sharing what you had for lunch with your friends and family.

Sometimes those thoughts and feelings are directed at you. Spoiler: They, like other human billionaires, think you are idiots who will take them at face value.

Advertising has never been anything other than pictures, words, and sounds trying to make you associate with a product something that is positive and directly unrelated to said product. For instance: A happy marriage with floor cleaner, pretty girls liking you with cheap stinky body spray, or memorable good times with light beer.

pitbull-bear-wal-mart
Pitbull never looked tinier.

With the advent of social media, however, advertisers are attempting to get you to provide free advertising for them by equating it to you sharing what you had for lunch with your friends and family. It’s intolerably insulting on their part before we even get to the sheer laziness of it.

Thankfully, it keeps blowing up in their faces in hilarious ways. Perhaps you remember when Wal-Mart in 2012 offered to send Pitbull to perform at whichever of its stores in the U.S. received the most “Likes” on Facebook. The internet decided the best place for him to perform would be the Wal-Mart in Kodiak, AK, and 70,000 likes later (Kodiak has a population of around 6,000), Pitbull found himself onstage receiving bear repellent from the manager of the store in that city.

Hitler-did-nothing-wrong-mountain-dew-dub
That’s so EXTREEEEEME!

One of my personal favorites so far was Mountain Dew’s “Dub the Dew” campaign, where it attempted to drum up fans by having the internet name its new Granny Smith apple soda. Before it shut the contest down, the clear winner was “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong,” followed closely by such gems as “Gushing Granny,” “Fapple,” and “Diabeetus.”

The most recent backfire occurred with Coca-Cola’s #MakeItHappy Twitter campaign, which it unleashed on the world during the Super Bowl. The idea was that you could reply to a negative tweet with #MakeItHappy, and Coca-Cola’s faceless ASCII algorithm would convert those words into a pretty picture.

“We can’t believe anyone called us on our bullshit ad campaign. At this time, we’d like to feign moral outrage and attempt to shame the individual responsible for spinning our multimillion-dollar advertising scam into a ditch.”

It was a cute gimmick until Gawker’s editorial lab director, Adam Pash, created a Twitter bot he dubbed @MeinCoke, which spewed out lines from Mein Kampf, and then answered them with #MakeItHappy. Coca-Cola found itself tweeting a pirate ship formed from the words “My father was a civil servant who fulfilled his duty very conscientiously” before it quickly pulled the campaign.

"The tears of war will produce the daily bread for the generations to come." – Mein Kampf, Chapter 1
“The tears of war will produce the daily bread for the generations to come.” – Mein Kampf, Chapter 1

Each of these media dustups has ended up being even more insulting to consumers than it began, with the company pretending it was only trying to do something nice for the people, totally separated from self-promoting its brand in an attempt to make more money. Coca-Cola’s response included: “Building a bot that attempts to spread hate through #MakeItHappy is a perfect example of the pervasive online negativity Coca-Cola wanted to address with this campaign.”

Read that as, “As a $78.4 billion company whose revenues have declined in recent years, we can’t believe anyone called us on our bullshit ad campaign. At this time, we’d like to feign moral outrage and attempt to shame the individual responsible for spinning our multimillion-dollar advertising scam into a ditch.”

It is obvious Adam Pash wasn’t trying to spread hate. Adam Pash was trying to make Coca-Cola look like a bunch of tools for trying to trick people into doing their advertising for them. Coca-Cola looks like even bigger tools for trying to make him look like a raving anti-Semite instead of an individual who soundly trounced the logic of their million-dollar ad firm.

Nationwide reacted similarly to Coke and Wal-Mart. That is, like the aunt who gives you a dollar-store book for Christmas because she’s cheap and doesn’t really know anything about you, and when you react negatively, feigns injury with, “I just wanted to help broaden your mind.”

I don’t think the idea of social media ad campaigns is going to disappear completely — it’s far too fertile a market; but even the slowest gazelle picks up a couple tricks if it survives long enough. But as of now, companies still haven’t figured out the difference between selling to passive viewers via television and radio, and selling to active viewers via social media.

Nationwide-commerical-meme-run-with-lynchAs a side note, social media is starting to kill the concept of “passive audiences” as a whole. Nationwide Insurance discovered that tout de suite in the seconds after its “Make Safe Happen” ad ran during the Super Bowl, when Twitter and Facebook exploded with people making fun of the company and getting pissed about Nationwide taking the air out of the biggest tailgate party of the year.

Predictably, Nationwide reacted similarly to Coke and Wal-Mart. That is, like the aunt who gives you a dollar-store book for Christmas because she’s cheap and doesn’t really know anything about you, and when you react negatively, feigns injury with, “I just wanted to help broaden your mind.”

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don’t know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance,” the insurance giant replied to the ridicule of the masses.

No one spends millions of dollars to “start a conversation.” If insurance companies want to start a conversation, maybe they could start paying on claims instead of weaseling out of full payments and upping your premiums.

At least Nissan had the decency not to come out and say, “Hundreds of kids unwittingly find themselves in single-parent households because their dads race professionally on the Le Mans circuit. Most people don’t know that. Nissan ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell cars.”RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Knick Moore

Knick Moore
Knick Moore hasn't been a smoker since 2007. However, this picture is just too stylish to replace.

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