This Is Not The Strategic Marketing We’re Looking For


It’s a great time to be in marketing. The low barrier to creation and the variety of channels available allow brands to consistently create, innovate and earn audience attention through remarkable experiences. We’re able to tell stories through content, through social, design, product development, motion graphics and more, and to reach customers in more exciting ways. With so many resources at our fingertips, brands can create virtually anything.

Or brands can fail. Epically.

Below is what happens when your “strategic marketing” plan looks more like something a hangry seven year old created.

Adventures in Potty Humor Marketing

Meet the new Joe Boxer commercial from K-Mart.

Isn’t that sweet? Yeeeah.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for it to be called controversial, sexual, disgusting or, because it’s the Internet, to be spoofed.

But, perhaps the worst part is that it’s really none of the horrible things it is being called. It’s also not controversial or edgy or innovative. It’s just dumb. It’s potty humor. It’s the punch line of an Adam Sandler movie without the delivery or quirky charm. K-Mart has earned itself a lot of attention for its “edgy” marketing with these new 12 balls of Christmas and other video efforts like “Ship My Pants” (which I found equally, so maybe it’s me) but it’s a brand that’s core audience is made up of families and parents and grandparents. If that’s your target, maybe don’t go for the penis joke. Go for the family-friendly moments and the messages of cherishing your loved ones during the holidays. Or the screaming kids. Or the parents high-fiving at their shopping success. But definitely not the penis.

Competitor Bashing

THIS JUST IN: Running a marketing campaign solely to trash your competitor makes you look insecure, paranoid and like a bully. By doing so, you’ve chosen to use your hard-earned money to talk about your competitor instead of talking about the value and the benefit you offer. This makes me (and other customers) concerned you don’t have a benefit or a value. Because if you did, surely you’d use your marketing to talk about those things. Because that would be the smart thing to do.

But then there’s Microsoft.

Microsoft is a brand known for historically bad marketing. Sure, they’ve had some recent successes but overall it’s a big ball of “meh” and “whaaat?” But the one thing the commercials linked above did have going for them where they were about Microsoft. Today’s bad advertising from the brand doesn’t even offer us that.


Microsoft, it’s time to back off the scroogled campaign. You look like the person we may retweet, but then actively avoid during real-life business transactions. We don’t want to tie ourselves to bullies or the weak. Sure, we may buy your $8 Google-is-stealing-your-data mug (it is sold out, after all) but we do it as a joke. And worse yet, when our colleague’s see it sitting on our desk, it sparks up a conversation about Google, NOT about you.

We’ll laugh at the train wreck, we just won’t do business with the train wreck.

If your marketing campaign is spending time talking about what your competitors are doing instead of the benefits and perks of your product or service, you’re wasting your dollars. Invest them into you, not the other guy.

Eyes on your own paper.

Showing off your “Social Media Strategy”

I can’t help but feel we’ve taken a serious wrong in the wonderful world of social media. We’ve gone from brands wanting to use social to talk like robots to customers to brands who have now fallen way too far in the other direction trying to appear “funny” or “human”. I think we need to reevaluate what that means.

Last week I tuned into social media to witness a brand carried through the Twittersphere for being “amazing” and “spontaneous” when, really, I’m not sure the brand’s social media person was sober when he or she wrote them.

Yes, DiGiorno, I am looking at you.

I didn’t catch DiGiorno’s Twitter stream in real-time during last week’s Sound of Music Live event. But BuzzFeed did. And so did AdAge and AdWeek. Each of these outlets hailed DiGiorno’s Twitter stream as the best thing to happen that night. And it left me confused. Because I thought the tweets, written in all-caps and with bad punctuation, read like a hot mess.



This is the best we can do?

Someone hold me because in my world, a smarter social media presence means engaging with customers in ways that elevate the brand. It’s one that makes me want to do business with you and shows me what you believe and how you live as an entity. It’s not about catering to the lowest common denominator or going for cheap laughs. You may get the laughs, but like Microsoft above, you’re not going to get the customer. Because no one wants to hang out with the class clown. The class clown usually fails out of high school.

In your rush to jump into social don’t forget the social media strategy that is intended to be guiding your brand to genuine, but also intelligent, interactions with your customers. A plan that will help you avoid offensive Pearl Harbor tweets. Because if you miss the strategy, you miss the point and your ability to determine if you’ve reached your goal.

With the marketing world becoming more cluttered and noisier than ever before, brands are looking for that marketing strategy to help them get seen and be heard. But you shouldn’t have to embarrass your brand (or your audience) in the process.  The examples above? NOT the marketing strategy you’re looking for.