MediaDailyNews: Is Honesty the Best Policy?

BlairI don’t know where to begin on this story. AdTech had a panel yesterday on the "Word of Mouth" advertising industry. (No, I wasn’t actually there, but I’m heading to NYC tomorrow for an even better time.)

David Balter of BzzAgent actually said:

"Word of mouth right now is pretty much an honest industry, but if we keep corrupting it with deceptive and misleading campaigns, word of mouth will become as hated as spam, and all its authenticity and potential for growth and innovation will disappear."

Here’s one of the guys leading the charge on PAID word of mouth saying that the "industry" is pretty much honest. I beg to disagree. At least when an upfront endorsement is made, we KNOW they are being paid or rewarded for saying what they’re saying.

Now, the approach of P&G’s Tremor division is a bit different. They send product samples, "welcome kits" to budding young influentials and let nature take its course. Guess what? If they send an influential a product that sucks, it won’t get them very far. "We cannot trick them," remarked Procter & Gamble’s John King, adding: "We cannot deceive them."

They use the Blair Witch Project as an example of "deceptive" advertising that worked. Here’s the truth about Blair Witch: It was a pretty damn good thriller flick. It was compelling. It was shot in a whole new way by some people we hadn’t heard of, and we LIKED the fact that they tried to pull one over on us. But…if they had made a lousy film, it would not have worked. 

The moral is…BE DAMN GOOD. Put out good products and let people talk about them.

For the record, in the story, they say that Blair Witch made well over $100 million. Here’s what IMDB says:

This film was in the Guinness Book Of World Records for "Top Budget:Box Office Ratio" (for a mainstream feature film). The film cost $22,000 to make and made back $240.5 million, a ratio of $1 spent for every $10,931 made.

Oh, and how do you follow up a deceptive campaign with the promotion for the sequel? Artisan re-shot some of the movie to make it more "commercial." According to The Numbers the sequel grossed $26.4 million on a production budget of $15 million. Nice try.

How effective is word of mouth when you have a lousy product? Ask the producers of Hulk or Gigli. They know.

Link: MediaDailyNews 11-09-04.