I was recently asked by Diva Marketing's Toby Bloomberg to weigh in on the whole "Lincoln Fry" ad, website, faux blog issue. Here is my reply:
Stefan and Kenny provided what I feel is a balanced and mature review of the situation on the Armchair Media site.
Two main issues come to my mind:
1. it would be criminal for McDonald’s to NOT attempt to promote themselves in a manner that suits their product, market niche, and customers.
2. there is an extreme level of criticality towards McDonald’s
The result seems to be that most everything the company does is ravaged by the critical elite.
Commercial: As I said in The McChronicles, “Personally, I thought it was a weak to average ad (like most of the Super Bowl offerings). Nothing that would generate ad buzz. But it sure seems to have generated something.”. From today’s perspective, this quirky campaign has touched off a minor buzz, as supported by all the postings, Google hits, Yahoo auction bids, and media commentary. Still, I revert to my original reaction: Was the commercial strong enough to solicit consumer action? I am still betting that it will turn out to have been a relatively weak execution of a classic good idea. It seems that the only people getting really excited are the critics.
Website (including Yahoo Auction strategy):
www.McDonalds.com: (USA site): At this viewing some links are broken. Several “this page can not be displayed” notices are appearing in the “Get Shopping” section. This is always a no-no. Their efforts to reach out to EVERYONE (ethnicities, age groups, and every other “demographic” that could possibly be divined) is a Herculean task. For a company of their size, it is something they must do to wring out marginal market share (very tough when you are already so pervasive). But it seems that this puts them on a slippery slope. The law of diminishing returns kicks in. It is extremely tough to achieve success in this arena. And, in the end, it comes down to two issues:
• personal style (of the people/person in charge of the website)
• ROI: are their efforts in this medium yielding positive results?
The Yahoo Auction: Great idea, but I smell a rat – and I hate to think there is a rat anywhere in this machine. When I first checked the auction’s bid history, the amount was low and all looked well. Next, I noticed the bidding had exceeded $100,000 but that the bidding history was stuck on February 8th. A little later the bidding date issue appeared to be reconciled, but the bid amount had fallen to $30,000. In this day and age, any appearance of hanky-panky reflects poorly on an organization as professional as McDonald’s. Something is clearly askance and it should be investigated and reported on.
Auctioning the prop and giving the money to a charity (The Ronald McDonald House is a great organization) is an awesome idea.
Blog: As you will recall, our AMA class and expert panel was divided on the issue of blogs by/from/for fictitious people/events. Sex in the City’s "Vote Carrie" blog was the example we reviewed. You, Toby, know much more about this than I do, having covered it on your site quite well. My take is that blog purists rail at the concept of a fictitious person blogging. But, face it, blogs are expressions, blogs are journals, blogs are news, blogs are diaries, blogs are records, and blogs are ads. Nobody “owns” blogs, and there is no true definition with which to comply. Blogs are living permutations of things that have been, and of things that are developing. It is precisely the way we bloggers evolve our blogging that creates the new state of the art. In short, there can be no such thing as a “blogging purist” since blogs can not be purely defined.
So, the age-old caveat emptor applies. Everyone should grow up and let things go. Isn’t that what the internet is all about?
Thanks for asking,