In this blog post I would like to share two SM campaigns with you, one that worked and one that did not. I will highlight “Lowe’s Fix in Six” using Vine as a success story, and Woody Harrelson’s efforts to promote the film Rampart as an example of how quickly errant stars can crash and burn.
First the good. In the spring of 2013, Lowe’s Home Improvement launched a social media campaign (http://lowesfixinsix.tumblr.com/) using Vine, a video-sharing tool only allows very short posts — six seconds, in fact. Sound like Twitter for video? You got it — Vine is owned by Twitter. Lowe’s put up a dozen simple tips for homeowners. Did you know you can use an elastic band and a drill to remove a stripped screw? Or that a clogged shower head can easily be cleaned using vinegar, a plastic bag and a rubber band? I didn’t either. Lowe’s Fix in Six used time-lapse photography and was shot using an i-phone (if that’s spelled wrong that’s because I am a Blackberry guy!). In the best traditions of slap-stick, the time-lapse photography adds an element of humour to the campaign. It is not a hard sell at all — in fact many of the “projects” use objects commonly found around the house and would not require a trip to the store. Instead, it seeks to build good will for the store. Vine has been a tough sell for many marketers, however based on the hugely positive reaction on Twitter (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23lowesfixinsix&src=hash), I think it’s safe to call this one a success.
Ironically, six seconds is about all it took for Woody Harrelson’s rep to go down the drain when he agreed to do do a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) on-line appearance while promoting his film film Rampart in February 2012. Initially questions focused on the film but things went astray when someone made claims that Harrleson had taken a classmate’s virginity years earlier. Harrelson insisted he was only taking questions about the film (wait a minute wasn’t this supposed to be an AMA?!!). A short time later a Quickmeme page for “Scumbag Woody Harrelson” appeared with images mocking the star.
Over the next few days the actor was savaged on-line, and YouTube viewers began disliking the film’s trailer. At last count, the dislikes outranked the likes better than 2 to 1 (1,423-629). Mainstream media criticism followed, with articles about the exchange being published in the New York Observer, the Huffington Post, Forbes and other on-line outlets. Harrelson’s Google search interest (http://www.google.com/trends/explore?hl=en-US#q=woody+harrelson) peaked a short time after the incident.
Moral of the story? Social media can turn quickly on you, particularly if you appear to be evasive and not willing to tackle tough issues. This is particularly true for celebrities — lots of people want to bring them down a peg or two! As a media relations practitioner I encourage my clients to engage with the media in safe environments, and generally to avoid call-in shows. The social media equivalent can be just as dangerous!