Advertisers: Users Engaged ‘For The Sake Of It’

Once upon a time on a video sharing website called YouTube, a woman relayed a tale about a man she met briefly in a Sydney cafe. Apparently he had a bit of a ‘silver slipper’ moment (with apologies to Cinderella) and left his jacket behind. The woman apparently concerned for the man and the welfare of his jacket decided to make a video about it. She set up a hotmail email address so that the man could get in touch with her, be reunited with the jacket and (one hallucinates) they could ride off into the sunset together.

Or something…

The whole thing was a hoax perpetuated by fashion company Witchery to draw attention to their new men’s range. The woman in the video hit the traditional media trail talking to any newspaper, television and radio outlets that would listen, each time denying that the video campaign was anything about what it appeared to be. (Both the fashion company and advertising company representing them towed the same official line.)

I was listening to a panel of people assembled from the advertising industry discussing this campaign and its ramifications on The Gruen Transfer. I was genuinely dumbfounded by some of the opinions expressed by these ‘experts’ when it came to the internet and its users.

[The Gruen Transfer: Season 2 Episode 2 – 25/03/2009]

These quotes come directly from the transcript of this particular episode from ABC Television.

Bridget Taylor:

I think this worked really well on line because on line people in that space, people are used to be tricked and they don’t mind and eh and if if Heidi had have stayed on line and leave it up to the bloggers is it fake, is it real, doesn’t matter, this but what they did wrong was they made this fake person into a real person who came out and said oh I’m real, it’s true and that that bit was totally wrong.

Russel Howcroft:

No, because you know we’re in the age of social media and we’re in the age of people just getting engaged with these things for the sake of it. We’re also in the age where the media picks these things up and that is the core of the idea. The absolute core of what’s going on here is to create media noise.

Internet users don’t mind being tricked and are into social media engagement ‘for the sake of it’?

What do you think?

3 comments… add one
  • Did she really say “and they don’t mind?” I can’t remember. I recall her saying “they’re used to being tricked” though, and I guess that’s true – but it doesn’t mean we like it. If a company pisses me off online, I’ll do my best to avoid them for at least the medium term.

  • That is a direct quotation (literally copied and pasted) from the ABC’s own transcript of the show.

    Certainly the potential for hoaxes exists online (as it does offline) but it concerns me that that advertising companies apparently think it is okay – and perhaps desirable – to mislead people online. Especially for companies that want our money! What kind of a trust building exercise is that?

  • I don’t like being tricked online or elsewhere. Not sure what “for the sake of it” means–I like the communication offered by social media.

Leave a Comment