Sunday, March 30, 2008

YouTube Videos Question Authenticity of Unilever's Campaign for Real Beauty Message

We recently discussed Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and the viral videos generated as part of that campaign (i.e. the Evolution and Onslaught videos). What we haven't discussed yet is an interesting marketing dilemma facing Unilever, the multinational corporation which owns the Dove brand along with about 400 other brands, including personal care brands Axe, Sunsilk, and Lux. Obviously all of these product lines have different brand personalities. So what do you do when two of them clash? That's exactly the dilemma we are talking about here. While Dove's viral videos have been trying to redefine our perception of real beauty, Axe's marketing strategy has been reinforcing the exact stereotype of the woman as sex object that the Dove videos have been trying to dispel. So what's Unilever to do?

Can they reap the benefits of Dove's success in rebranding itself as a socially responsible brand while at the same time supporting Axe's message of female sex appeal? Should Unilever allow one of its own brands to undermine Dove's mission? Can the Dove message come across as authentic when other Unilever brands blatantly reject it? Is this hypocritical?

Here are a two YouTube videos that are calling Unilever on its apparent hypocrisy:

Also see this post from AdPulp.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Follow the British Prime Minister on Twitter, Flickr & YouTube

After the Queen started her own YouTube channel last Christmas, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown followed suit yesterday by creating a DowningStreet Twitter stream and Flickr account. He already has his own YouTube channel. All he needs now is a blog... 

Leave it to the Brits to pioneer social media uses for Heads of State!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

File hosting solution for your web video project

Since some of you will be using the computer lab computers to work on your web video project, you'll need to find a way to save your files (don't save them on the lab computers - they will be erased!!). If your file is too big to fit on your EdShare account or on your Flash drive, you can use File Dropper, a free file sharing/hosting service. Just browse for your file, upload it & use the automatically generated link to download it again later. Be sure to write down the link correctly!

File Dropper hosts files up to 5 GB.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Viral Marketing & Viral Video Slides

Here's the slideshow for our discussion of viral video. Click on each slide to navigate to the next. It's a big file, so it may take a second to load.

Web Video Assignment

Since we didn't have time to go over the upcoming web video assignment in class, I am posting it below. Please read over it and let me know if you need clarifications.

For this project, you will produce a 30 or 60 second YouTube video for The United Nations World Food Programme that strives to raise awareness about world hunger. 
According to the Hunger Bytes competition website: “This is your chance to be controversial, provocative and shocking - whatever it takes - to make a video that will grab the attention of the on-line community and get them thinking about world hunger. The goal is to make a top rated viral video that creates a real buzz and gets people thinking about hunger.”

The detailed call for entries can be found on the Hunger Bytes YouTube page. Your job will be to develop a creative idea, obtain footage (pics and/or video), edit the video, add sound and text, and format it for web distribution.

• Create a 30 or 60 second video entry for the Hunger Bytes Youtube competition
• Create a blog post about your video which embeds the video, describes your creative idea, and is tagged for effective search engine exposure

Grading Criteria:
1. Video is well edited (smooth & appropriate transitions, synchronized audio track & text)
2. Video quality is good (not too grainy)
3. Audio quality is good (edited correctly, proper volume)
4. Video is uploaded to Youtube and embedded on the blog with proper tags

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Election 08 and Social Media: Special Blogging Assigment

I know we're still on spring break and the last thing you want to hear about are assignments, but this is not a new assignment - just a twist on your regular weekly blogging assignment. :)

I just finished reading an excellent Rolling Stone article (entitled "The Machinery of Hope") on how the Obama campaign is using social media to build a grassroots movement and I got to thinking that we should maybe spend a little more time on the subject of social media and political campaigning than we have thus far. This is after all an election year and all these new technologies are changing political campaigns right in front of our eyes.

What I would like us to do the week after spring break, is blog about how you think these technologies are affecting the way political campaigns are run. You can pick any candidate you like, or compare and contrast what different candidates have done in the social media arena. Just to clarify, these blog posts will NOT be in addition to your 2 weekly blog posts, but will replace them.

Check out these resources for an overview of the issue: 

  • News story on the use of social networking in political campaigns:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wikipedia accepts donation in return for edit?

Check out this article from the BBC about Wikipedia's founder supposedly trading edits for a donation.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why am I here? Road Runner introduces domain interception as an opt-out feature

The story sounds vaguely familiar: a tech company (in this case an Internet service provider) quietly introduces a new feature designed to help it make more money, but unfortunately the feature doesn't work properly quite yet. No problem though since consumers - who don't even know this feature has been enabled on their accounts - are given the choice (?) to opt out. If this sounds reminiscent of Facebook's Beacon stunt, let me introduce you to Road Runner's new domain interception feature.

The feature is designed to intercept "failed DNS requests, redirecting them to RoadRunner's own search and advertising platform". In their own words, "Road Runner has enabled a service to redirect web address errors to a helpful search page. You entered an unknown name that Road Runner used to present site suggestions that you may find useful. Clicking on any of these suggestions provides you with Yahoo! search results, which may include relevant sponsored links."

This sounds simple enough, except that in my case, the system has become a little overzealous and is redirecting pages randomly - even when they are spelled correctly. Here's an example:

In this case, I was trying to load the weather channel but RoadRunner responded by telling me that doesn't exist. Instead it suggested I try one of its sponsored results such as the weatherbug. This has been happening pretty randomly: sometimes the page will load, sometimes RoadRunner will redirect. I've been playing this game for about a week now until I finally decided it's time to get this fixed.

A quick search of, the redirection domain, suggested that RoadRunner launched its domain interception feature at the end of February, which roughly coincides with the beginning of my Internet problems. Equipped with this knowledge, I called RoadRunner's customer service to figure out a way to fix this. My initial call wasn't so successful since the first thing the customer service technician suggested was to reset the cable modem. Note that it is always a bad idea to reset the cable modem when you are using an Internet phone service... They really should start asking customers if they are using VOIP before resetting cable modems! :)

With that lesson learned, I called them back. The lady I spoke to seemed unaware of the domain redirection and had to put me on hold to go find out about it. When she came back she said the redirection somehow got switched on, but that she could help me disable the feature. By googling the problem later on, I learned that the feature is ENABLED by default - it seems that is has been turned on on every customer's account.

The opt out feature is "hidden" behind the rather metaphysical sounding "Why am I here?" link that shows up after Road Runner redirects your initial web query. In case you're wondering - no, Time Warner hasn't figured out the meaning of life.

They are merely using the “Why am I here?” question to link to a preferences page which states: “These preferences allow you to opt in or out of the non-existing domain landing service.” Interesting, since I never opted in and my default was set to enable! It seems to me that this is definitely an opt-out, not an opt-in type feature.

I probably never would have noticed this service had it not malfunctioned on my computer. I still don’t know why it did, and Road Runner seemed both unable to tell me, and uninterested in finding out. The problem is that I wasted quite a bit of time trying to figure out what was wrong with my Internet just to find out that my ISP quietly launched a new service that still seems to have a few bugs. Why not just contact customers and let them know that this new service is about to go into effect and that they can opt out?

Seems like Road Runner didn’t pay attention to the recent Facebook Beacon debacle. Facebook similarly tried to sneak in its Beacon program by launching it as an opt-out only system. As we all know, this didn’t go over so well with the Facebook community and Mark Zuckerberg had to cave in to the pressure and make it an opt-in service. I haven’t really seen a big backlash about Road Runner’s new domain redirecting service yet, but I think the overall problem is the same. Why not just let customers decide whether they want this new service? Why not just make it opt-in rather than expect customers to click on a mysterious “why am I here” link to opt out?

Update: I think this system is redirecting valid domains and treating them as misspelled domains if the connection is really slow or times out. At least that's what I've pieced together. Here's another screenshot of the system telling me doesn't exist.

Funny, since the Road Runner Redirection FAQ page uses as an example in its explanation of domain names:

Update 04/19: Wired just ran a good story explaining domain interception and its potential dangers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lessons from Teaching Social Media & Blogging

I just came across a blog post by David Meerman Scott, author of the New Rules of Marketing and PR, about how social media has enabled authors to connect with the students who are reading their books.

I must admit, this new phenomenon has been one of the most unexpected and most exciting aspects of teaching this class. What has been even more remarkable is the speed at which these connections have been established. I think that Jackie Huba contacted us roughly a week after first launching the class blog, and it wasn't long afterward that Paul Gillin started commenting on some of the student blogs. Since then we have had people from all walks of life drop by our blogs (and sometimes even our class):
  • corporate bloggers
  • CEOs
  • student bloggers from other universities
  • professors from other universities
  • people/organizations we examined as case studies in class
  • internship supervisors
  • and even parents!
I guess when you teach a social media class, you should expect to take the discussion outside your classroom walls, but I never imagined getting this level of interest from people outside academe.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Guest Speakers: Richard Binhammer and John Pope from Dell

I'm delighted to announce that Richard Binhammer, from Dell Corporate Group Communications, and John Pope, Digital Media Senior Manager, will come talk to us on Thursday about how Dell is engaging its publics through social media. As you may know, Dell is considered by many to be a leader in the adoption of social media technologies and both Richard and John are part of the digital media team that has brought about Dell's social media revolution.

In preparation for their talk, you may want to check out some of the following resources: