It’s Not What You Say – It’s The Way That You Say It

Bit of a rant, I’m afraid.

I think I’ve already stated on this blog that I’m something of a fan of what I would term PR stunts – bit fluffy, bit wheeey, bit whoooar – but, actually quite effective while they last. I think I mentioned Aleksandr the Meerkat from comparethemeerkat.com (a search engine dedicated to meerkat paraphernalia and accessories, as far as I can see) as a particular example of how something fairly silly and with low relevance to anything and with an undeniably ‘cheap’ feel to it can be extremely successful and tap into the zeitgeist. Simples! (And cross all sorts of media divides – digital, print, experiential, broadcast etc etc  etc.)

Anyway – peeping out from under my stone the other day I came across another one – you probably all know about this, but anyway – it was the absolutkindness.com campaign, ‘Give Kindness Not Cash!’, on behalf of Absolut Vodka. I only read a case history, but I quite liked the idea of giving smiles, hugs or high-fives in exchange for food, drink, whatever. I don’t know whether it was a success – but it deserved to be – it had legs, it had digital, it had experiential and it had the possibility of print as well. Hooray for whoever it was who came up with it. Silly, yes, foolish, perhaps, short-lived, most definitely – but attention-grabbing and thought-provoking.

So why did some clown let the Absolut head of marketing ruin it with this quotation: “We wanted to put a smile on people’s faces. Absolut is more than just a vodka, it’s a way of life, and this seemed like a good way to communicate that attitude to people.”

Aaaaaaaaaagh. It reminds me of something I might have written when I was young and stupid. No, Absolut marketing and PR bunnies, Absolut is not more than just a vodka. It is actually, quite plainly, just a vodka. Nothing wrong with that, and I’m sure it’s very nice, but it’s just a vodka. It most certainly is not a way of life – that would be a worry – but luckily, most of those who see spirits as a way of life cannot actually afford them, which is why they drink Special Brew.

(Also, and it’s a side issue – ‘a good way to communicate that attitude’ – well, is it an attitude, or a way of life? Make up your minds, guys.)

This is a plea – and an object lesson, perhaps – never give your spokespeople words, or allow them to use words, that will jar with, or patronise, or offput your audience. The quotation above runs the risk of achieving all of those things – I’m not stupid, and therefore I don’t presume that anyone else is.

‘We wanted to put a smile on people’s faces. – your choice of Absolut Vodka says something about you – and this was a great way of communicating that something to people.’

See where I’m coming from?

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Filed under Communications Strategy, External Communications, Public Relations

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