Image via WikipediaI have been following this story on Australian marketing uber-blog Mumbrella and watching it develop for some time. It has been a not unamusing saga based around a not unamusing car: the Toyota Yaris.
Basically, Toyota Australia ran a pitch for agencies to come forward with a smart social media campaign to promote the awful car. Each agency was given $15,000 to pitch with. The whole pitching exercise was something of a 'look how cool we are we get social media' exercise in itself and was much followed by a slightly aghast ad/media industry. The winners of the pitch, Saatchi and Saatchi, came up with the idea of running a 'clever video competition', donating $7,000 of its pitch money to the winning clever film, $3,000 to the second and $1,000 to the third place. Nice to see Saatchi billing $4,000 for a whole campaign, no?
And that would have been that - a typical story of client that doesn't really understand that the world is changing working together with an agency that still believes that social media is another type of megaphone to carry a one-way message - but for the film that won the competition. A competition, incidentally, that was not judged by the public (SOCIAL media, geddit?) but by a jury consisting of as yet unidentified jurors, according to Mumbrella.
The winner, 'Clean Getaways' turns out to be a clip of notably egregious sexism that even stands out in an Australian (here's ya birthday present, Sheila) environment. The gag 'she can take a good pounding' is just one high point in a film that sees a father discussing his daughter with her boyfriend in a slew of doobel orntondre references. User comment has been fast to tumble forth, including accusations that it is offensive and degrading to women and is 'vulgar objectification'. You can find an excellent writeup of the whole thing on Mumbrella, linked above. The video has now, sadly, been removed from YouTube. Because the thing to do when social media backfires is, of course, delete it all and pretend it didn't happen...
Toyota's reaction to this furore? The company's laughingly named 'manager of direct marketing and social media' told Mumbrella that he didn't see it was an issue as this was not an advertisement but was user generated content. So the users did it, see?
It is my humble opinion that the gatekeepers in the game prove that Saatchi and Toyota didn't 'get it', by the way. Jury bad, public opinion good. The trouble is that when you pick something 'social' in private, you then have to share your 'pick' in public. It would have been so much smarter to have user generated selection involved in this competition to find user generated content. But then it would have been smarter to look at social media as an ongoing investment in a process of change rather than as a tactic.
It is broadly accepted that Toyota has, as one commentator noted wittily, shot itself in the face.