Welcome to another edition of “Seriously?”, the monthly column where I serve up the wacky, the baffling, and the amusing from the world of social media, PR, and communications. As we all know, sometimes making the best use of these new communications channels requires outside-the-box thinking, and sometimes outside-the-box thinking results in people going just a wee bit off the rails.
Whether overreacting to a bit of news with an absurd blog rant, launching a nonsensical marketing campaign, or perhaps engaging in a meaningless online kerfuffle–I’ve got everything that left me scratching my head in the last few weeks and saying…”Seriously?”
Take, for example, the idea of prenatal Twitter. Yes, you read that right. Tweets. From the womb.
I honestly had to read this post twice when I came across it last month to make sure I had it right. There are already plenty of mommy (or daddy, for that matter) blogs out there that use the cutesy gimmick of blogging from the baby’s point of view. Not my cup of tea, but hey, I’m sure they have a good time and it’s just harmless fun. But a Twitter feed tracking when the little bundle of joy is kicking? Say it with me now: Seriously??? Is there even an audience for that? What’s next, specially wired knickers that will produce a blog post and Facebook status update the moment mommy’s water breaks? Sounds gross and disturbing, right? Well, yes. And so is this. Not to mention, I’ve had friends who were afraid to use their microwaves while pregnant, let alone strap on some crazy electronic belt to let their little one Tweet.
In other creepy news, what is it with Burger King ads that seemed designed solely to freak me out? First was the commercial where the guy wakes up and the “King” is in bed with him, staring at him like a serial killer, and next comes the “Whopper Virgins” campaign. My first reaction to these ads was that the idea is an odd combination of clever (scouring the world for people who have never had a hamburger in their lives for a “pure” taste test) and disturbing (did it not occur to them that the reason some parts of the world don’t have hamburgers is that some parts of the world don’t have food?). In the end, it’s like a live demonstration of all the reasons the rest of the world hates America. When the ads debuted last month they received a fair amount of criticism (culminating in a brilliant, spot-on spoof on “SNL” this past weekend). From a viral standpoint, this campaign doesn’t come close to some of Burger King’s previous spots, including the outstanding “Whopper Freakout” and the silly-yet-awesome “Subservient Chicken.” When a brand shows they can bring it in using social media channels, I expect a lot; and “Whopper Virgins” doesn’t deliver anything but a helping of first world guilt. Seriously.
Next up, another wacky marketing ploy from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The animal rights group is attempting to re-brand fish as “sea kittens.” No really…seriously. I’ve never really been a fan of many of PETA’s unconventional efforts at raising awareness, but I do admire their sense of panache and fearlessness. Sticking mostly nude women in cages to protest the unfair treatment of livestock will always get you a bit of blog ink, right? They also seem to take the “no publicity is bad publicity” approach; courting controversy appears to be one of the ways they shine the spotlight on their causes (a subject we tackled on the Roundtable after their ill-advised plan to use the Greyhound bus slaying in Canada to draw attention to greyhound racing). But this is just silly–fish may not be as cuddly as a panda bear or a baby seal, and commercial fishing may not be as grisly and stirring as images from the slaughterhouse, but PETA, I beg you–find another way. Because, sea kittens? Seriously?
Sarah Wurrey is a public affairs professional in Washington, DC. She is the former managing editor of Media Bullseye and a co-blogger at Blogstring.com, where she co-hosts the sporadic Blogstring podcast. She can also be found at her personal blog and on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahwurrey.