December 2007 Archives

The Harry Situation - A Garnier Campaign

| | Comments () |
harry_situation.jpg L'Oréal started an online marketing campaign for its new line of hair-care products called Garnier Fructis Style Bold It, aimed at men aged 18 to 34. The viral campaign launched with the help of Avenue A | Razorfish, is a spoof on more traditional branded advertising. It includes a website, a blog and video clips. The campaign is presented to consumers as if Garnier partnered with a broadcasting network to produce a sit-com "The Harry Situation" in the style of Three's Company. Pilot episodes were produced and published on the website. And as a part of the spoof, the producer then went onto cancel the show because he was upset with the heavy handed product placements. 

So here's what I think can make the campaign a success - the fact that its a parody on traditional marketing. We're sick and tired of ostentatious product placements and large brands trying too hard to be cool. This is an example of a company that's saying lets take a risk, do something that's a parody of ourselves and be risque in a way that we've never been. Just take a look at the actual pilot episodes to see what I mean by risque.

At the same time, there a few things that can endanger a marketing campaign of this type. The first is if it is over-planned. I was surprised to read in a New York Times article how many blog posts, video clips and photographs were planned. Even if the campaign is a spoof, I'd encourage the marketers to allow for more spontaneity or at least create that appearance. Don't tell us how many blog posts are planned. Along those lines, I'd encourage the team to use YouTube for its video clips on The Harry Situation website. I had to find those clips on YouTube so that I could embed one here. This makes the viral marketing harder.

The campaign also raises an interesting question. How honest do you really need to be with the consumers when you're entertaining them and cracking jokes? My opinion - you should have a longer leash when you're blurring the lines between marketing and entertainment. But then again, I belong to the company that created this campaign. Maybe I am biased.

Live Pillow Fights on the Web at Sheratonplay

| | Comments () |
There aren't too many examples out there of successful online marketing initiatives that take advantage of social media or at least its philosophies. One of those is from Sheraton whose brand is about bringing people together and enabling them to interact while traveling. invites visitors from across the global to literally pick up a pillow and join a virtual live pillow fight, while simultaneously enabling them to book reservations or search travel options. It uses unique technology to combine artificial intelligence with a multi user interactive communications engine.


So pick up a pillow and go fight at You can also splash around in the pool in realtime with others. What makes this special is that it gives you a sense that you belong to something larger. And not just that, you can have pillow fights within banner ads too - not just on the website. Not too long ago, Sheraton was one of the first corporate websites to embrace Social Media on its corporate home page. User generated reviews and photographs of the hotels from around the country are published in real time (or new real time) on Sheraton Hotels & Resorts is a client of Avenue A | Razorfish. Learn more here.

Think Social Influence Marketing in 2008

| | Comments () | TrackBacks (3) |

Is there any doubt that social media exploded in 2007? The astounding growth of Facebook alone forced everyone – not just marketers, but corporations, investors, academia, and media –to pay attention to social media as a serious business and cultural phenomenon. But the bigger question is how will social media change the way we do business in 2008? In fact, we’re discovering a major shift occurring. The rise of social media is creating a new form of marketing altogether, which we call social influence marketing. Social influence marketing is about employing social media as part of the entire lifecycle of a marketing campaign, even beyond the campaign.

The emergence of social influence marketing is one of 10 major social media developments for 2008 that you need to know about now.

Time Magazine's Top 10 List

| | Comments (2) |
The end of each year brings the top ten lists and don't we love them. They're simple to read and makes us feel that if we missed what's important in the year, reading the top ten lists will be enough to catch up. Time Magazine launched its Top Ten Lists this week and needless to say, the Top Ten Websites were most interesting to me.
You can find the article at Time Magazine but be sure to check out It is a meta social network search engine that aggregates your profile from various social networks. Now it certainly has its shortcomings but expect this service to get stronger in the new year. We're all suffering from social networking fatigue and its about time that someone developed a service that made managing our presence (and finding our friends) on different social networks easier. Its best feature - Wink lets me import my profile from Facebook. What more could I want?

Web Strategy mentions Going Social Now

| | Comments (1) |
Jeremiah Owyang over at Web Strategy recommended my blog the other day. He said, " Shiv Singh's blog is very high signal to noise, if you like my blog, you'll also love his." Thank you for the compliment. For those of you who don't know Jeremiah, he runs one of the most popular blog on web strategy and social media.

Avenue A l Razorfish Cited as a Leader among Interactive Marketing Agencies

| | Comments () |
Forrester Research announced today that it has cited us as a leader in its “The Forrester Wave™: Interactive Marketing Agencies, Q4 2007 (December 2007)” Forrester Research report. Along with Ogilvy Interactive, we lead the pack according to Forrester. The link takes you to the complete report. You'll find the Avenue A | Razorfish analysis here

This is great news for Avenue A | Razorfish (my employer) and follows on a previous report that named us as a leader in web design capabilities. Over 25 firms were researched for this report, and we did extremely well. Not only are we one of the largest interactive agencies in the world but we are among the best too!

We were cited as a leader because of the “breadth of experience with interactive marketing campaigns utilizing many different channels such as email, search, display ads, and emerging channels, as well as strong measurement and analytics capabilities.”

The report recommends us to larger companies that need digital marketing strategies that span online channels and are grounded in audience research. Some of our clients mentioned in the analysis include Levi Strauss, Carnival Cruse Lines and Washington Mutual. The report also mentioned the our dedication to studying changing online behaviors with initiatives such as the Living Lab.

Marketing with user-generated content

| | Comments () |
McKinsey talks about the marketing activities that can benefit from user generated content in a recent McKinsey Quarterly article. They talk about public relations, advertising, product development/innovation and customer service outlining how user generated content can impact each of these areas. I couldn't agree more though I just wish they'd get into more detail.

We all know that social media is having a transformative impact on marketing but so far there's little talk about how exactly. Only time will tell whether there is more hype than is warranted. However, the article made an important point regarding experimentation and focus -

In our experience, however, marketers who let a thousand flowers bloom risk losing focus—for instance, by failing to recognize the areas where user-generated media could make the biggest difference or by stumbling into the public-relations problems that intense customer involvement sometimes creates. One way of enhancing focus is to take a top-down approach, starting with drawing a conceptual map that links a company’s brand, industry, and customer characteristics with its core marketing activities that could benefit from user-generated media.

Everything must still start with the business objectives. And you still need to frame all your social media activities through the lens of your brand. While a lot of industry pundits encourage lots of experimentation, I believe that a more strategic approach (similar to what McKinsey hints at in the extract above) is really required.

Does Social Media require its own budget?

| | Comments () |
Its hard enough to do budgeting without having to worry about social media budgeting. How much should you invest in social media? And where should those investments go? Into resources, infrastructure, Second Life islands, Facebook applications, social ads, blog reading or training? How do you know how many resources you'll need without knowing how successful your consumer engagement activities maybe?

Knowing how much to budget is difficult. This is especially the case if you have only made tentative steps into the social media domain. Here are some guidelines to consider as you put together your 2008 budgets -

1. You can't have a budget without a strategy. If you don't have a strategy for engaging in the social media space, then don't really bother with a budget just yet. You need to really first think about where your customers are, what they're doing, how you want to participate in the conversation and what value you can bring to it. If you haven't thought about those things, you're not ready for a budget. Peter Kim has a few good questions that you need to consider too.

2. First impressions matter a lot here too. Don't just experiment for the sake of experimenting or because you're feeling left out. First impressions matter an incredible amount in the social media domain. Why? Simply because those that participate in the conversation are typically the most critical. You don't want to screw up. Everyone will talk about it for a while. Just ask Walmart about their Facebook efforts to understand this.

3. Thinking about social media annually is a mistake
. The fact of the matter is that social media requires a nimbleness that annual budgeting doesn't really support. If you find your customers gravitating towards a specific social network or are seeking a specific application that you can provide, you need to be ready to serve them the next week and not the next year. What does that mean? You need room in your budget for these short term activities

4. Ask your bosses for a little more flexibility. Just take a look at the Facebook Beacon (mis)launch to see how advertising platforms, formats and revenue models are changing. As you budget for 2008, think about whether you're educating your bosses about social media. You need to tell them that its in a state of flux and knowing where exactly to invest (and how much) is hard. They need to give you a little more flexibility with the budget than they're used to giving.


No organization can survive without a rigorous budgeting process. To believe that social media lets you go budget free and keep asking for money during the course of the year is naive to say the least. However, by educating your budget approvers about the social media domain, thinking carefully about where your customers and what percentage of your customers are participating can serve as a starting point for creating a social media budget.

The good news? Some of your employees are probably excited about social media and may offer to help informally when you're next trying to launch a program. Also, the more successful your community and social media efforts, the less you have to do. This Community ROI graph from Creating Passionate Users says it all.

Carr talks about My(Work)Space

| | Comments () |
One of the downsides of the blogosphere is that the same topics get talked about again and again. Here's a perfect example of that with Nicholas Carr talking about the formal and the informal IT organization.

The formal is defined as the top down enterprise applications deployed to employees and the informal being about the social tools like MySpace and Facebook that are creeping into the enterprise. He then goes onto to discuss social networks within organizations and how these informal networks are extremely important. And finally, Carr concludes by stating social networks will be adapted for corporate use. This is old news. Instead, I wish he had discussed how these social tools are actually being adopted by the enterprise or maybe how some organizations are using social networks to support the innovation process. Maybe that will come next time.

Two More Facebook Advertisers Say No To Beacon

| | Comments () |
Not surprisingly, two more advertisers are saying no to Beacon. According to Silicon Alley Insider, not just Coca Cola but Travelocity and Overstock have decided to sit on the sidelines too.

It is hard to believe how quickly a company can lose its focus on its customers. Rather than trying to reinvent social networking and advertising, the folks over at Facebook should have just stuck to changing the social networking game. Let advertising be done in the traditional way. Sure, it may mean less revenue but at least you won't be alienating your core customers.

Now the truth is, no one really knows how much this has damaged Facebook's reputation and business. I'm still getting friend requests and everyone's still busy checking their Facebook accounts. I suspect in a couple of weeks, we'd have all forgot about the Beacon mistakes.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2007 is the previous archive.

January 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.