Carlton ads show it’s possible for a client to kill a campaign twice

Remember the furore over the banned Carlton ads?

Suspicious types predicted they’d quickly leak onto the internet.

And sure enough, they are indeed now online, triggering more suspicion that the whole thing was a plan all along.

However, who looks to me like a brand new fumbling of the digital strategy to go on top of the earlier mess, at least proves the whole thing was a genuine cock-up.  

Normally at this point, I’d embed the ad, or some of the ads, so you can see what I mean.

But Carlton has locked them onto its own non-embeddable microsite, called Any Excuse. I asked why. The answer: “We’re keen for people to view at our site as they can rate them and leave feedback.”

Now in the scheme of things, Mumbrella doesn’t matter, as we’re just trade press.

But it’s a strategy which will guarantee that the ads will never go properly viral, if that’s indeed what they want.

My prediction would be an initial surge of curious viewers (and the ads have already clocked up from 2000 to 6000 views each, albeit helped by each one playing unprompted on a  loop).

But in a few days, I’m sure the numbers will plateau.

So why should they, as I’d argue, make the ads embeddable, whether on YouTube, Vimeo or whatever else?

First, bloggers boost views. If the ads can appear across the internet, then that’s what puts them into public consciousness.

For instance, check out this ad for Pedigree dog food, by TBWA Toronto:

(See how I was able to embed it?) It’s had 1.6m views in the last two weeks. According to Viral Video Chart it’s currently the most viewed online ad.

Why? Partly because it’s been blogged about. In 794 separate posts. Because it’s embeddable. (Well, make that 795 posts now.)

It’s also been commented on more than 2000 times and tweeted about 4000 times.

The Any Excuse website gives, by the way, a simple mechanism to give each ad a mark out of five. YouTube does precisely the same thing.

YouTube also captures comments more effectively and actually displays them, which this microsite does not.

But the second point about putting it on video sharing sites is because of what is becoming one of the most important factors online – discovery. Lock it on your own site, and there’s no danger of punters stumbling upon it on their own in the way that idle YouTube surfers do. You know, those young, hard-to-reach men who drink beer.

The last two days at Adtech have heard again and again about how digital strategy is now about going where the audience is. (Apart from Carlton) brands are busy closing their microsites and migrating their communities to places like Facebook.

As Mindshare’s Ciaran Norris put it yesterday:

“Microsites are like crisp packets on the pavement of the internet.”

I wish someone from Carlton had been there to hear it.

From here, it’s hard to tell what is motivating the new strategy.

It doesn’t seem to be about a marketing database exercise. Those who find the comment button (for which there’s no overt call to action) are not asked marketing opt-in questions when they supply their email, for instance.

It could simply be this was all that could be got past the boss. Better to get it out in some format, and take what the marketing team can get. Which doesn’t augur well for the brand, if those are the conditions the agency is working under. But perhaps it might elicit enough positive comment that it gives the senior management the confidence crutch they need to put it on TV.

The thing that I can never get my head around is what it must be like being a creative in a situation like this. You come up with a piece of work you really believe in, you put months into getting it made, then it gets killed at the last moment. Then it gets a second chance, and that’s handicapped by the client too.

How on earth do you motivate yourself to go on doing good work in that situation? Good on Clems for giving it a bash and getting it out in public in some format at least.

At least we now know that the ads, by the way, are pretty good. I’m not sure many members of the general public ever will though.

Tim Burrowes


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