Native Advertising: Ad Agencies Dip Their Little Toes In The Deep End

Native Advertising as popularly defined (pick one) is nowhere near “the big idea”, and further underscores a dark truth concerning the fate of every ad agency in the business.

As is often the case in the one-upsman world of advertising Native’s definition is still in the land-grab phase. But in short:

In other words, theoretically without employing traditional interruptive tactics, advertisers would deliver brand messages in the form of – gasp – honest to goodness desirable content, products or services that users might be willing to seek out and pay money for, except that it’s probably free.

In yet other words the same old ham-fisted, ad industry bozos are trying (still) to clod their way through yet another little bit of age-old interactive media obviousness as though it’s some big new idea.

In truth, the underlying observations that have inspired today’s “Native Advertising” breathlessness have been openly in place for over 15 years.

And while there is clearly valid intent embedded in the notion of a kind of “native” solution, this current set of native advertising definitions are all somewhat on the incomplete side.

Why should this trickling acceptance of reality have taken a young voter’s entire life span?

I strongly believe it’s because, by their very design, ad agencies are built, trained and honed to do one thing well: interrupt the consumer experience with a message of value that is itself just valuable enough to keep viewers from looking away.

The entire 100+ Billion dollar industry. Staffed, funded, and optimized. That’s what they do.

And that singular capability is entirely misaligned with the very fundamental principles of interactive media. The future of media.

Think about that – Ad agencies are the wrong tool for the future.

It’s just a whole lot easier to sneak an ad in front of a captive audience, an ad that is just good enough while it sufficiently delivers its brand message that people don’t get up and leave, than it is to create something so valuable and magnetic that a regular person will seek out, be willing to pay for, and enjoy it.

Not surprisingly, this truth doesn’t get talked about much in ad circles.

I know, I’ve heard it, “good advertising IS valuable”, “Lots of people watch the Super Bowl for the amazing spots”, “People in the UK go to the theater early to watch the commercials”, and “My wife buys fashion magazines for the ads.”

Memes that keep an industry of frustrated creatives from feeling the need to get into real content industries.

In reality, lots of people watch the Super Bowl (real content), so advertisers spend way more money on those ads which invariably suck less – but those same viewers would be just fine watching the game without interruption. People in the UK are just as annoyed as people in the US when they pay for a movie (real content), show up on time and are stuck watching 20 minutes of commercials. And your wife would be quite pleased if the magazine provided more fashion review and commentary (again, real content) in place of those ads.

At this point in the conversation my advertising friends point at Old Spice Man.

Jesus. Yes, there is a type of freakery along every skew of humanity, ads that become eagerly shared being one of the very rarest. Every 6-7 years there is one Old Spice Man. That is not a repeatable, sustainable solution. A meaningless blip on a radar that is otherwise teaming with actual useful data that is being openly ignored.

Don’t you wonder why there are so few wildly successful ads in the interactive space? Don’t you ever wonder why? I mean these aren’t just random people making YouTube cat videos. These are paid professionals who are theoretically masters of their art form. Why then is advertising in interactive not more obviously successful and coveted?

Periodically advertisers try to acknowledge this disconnect and do tip toe into the deep end with what seem like penetrating PowerPoint decks, that try to sound all hard, hip and anarchic, generally stating that today’s busy, connected consumers are just disinterested in brands and ad messages altogether. And I guess this must feel like a cathartic, even maverick, stab at the truth. But these are ultimately impotent decks, never going all the way. Always falling short of any real disruption. Never willing to upturn their own boat to reveal the utter brokenness of their paycheck. These exercises (and all ad agencies toy with presentations like these) end the same way, with some softball, vaguely nuanced adjustment to the old ad models.

Because those few that do look critically, all the way under the rug with open eyes, see a slightly horrific slippery slope that ends with upheaval. The implication that the industry is no longer built on solid ground. That the very ad agency infrastructure is literally not aligned on the foundation of the future.

That creative directors, art directors, copywriters and producers – are the wrong people. The wrong people to invent the solutions – helping companies evangelize their offerings into interactive media and extend awareness through the social spaces of the future. (planners do have a role however, more on that later)

From where I sit, all this agency hyperventilating of the virtues and potential of “Native Advertising” is just little more than the dozy ass-scratch of a sated, comfortable industry that hasn’t yet felt the crunch of the iceberg needed to rouse from its operational hammock-basking.

Why bother? When we can rely on the apparent solid ground of past innovations?

Yes – there are a lot of hard working creative people in advertising – but they are generally working below this line. They are working within the Matrix, below pointed, self-critical analysis and reinvention of the industry’s very models and structure. It’s reason for being.

The industry chose the blue pill.

A Reboot is Needed
In software, developers of big systems spend a relative long time nursing legacy code over time, modifying and amending to adapt it to a changing world. But there comes a point where it becomes unwieldy and inefficient, where the originating code base is no longer relevant, where its developers have to step back and ask “if we were building an ideal system from scratch today, would this be it?” When the answer stops being “possibly”, then the legacy design usually gets retired.

The same must be asked of legacy business processes.

Clients and agencies need to ask the same question of the existing agency business and infrastructure. Big gains will come from reinventing it, rebuilding it directly on the back of solid interactive principles.

This requires a reboot.

Following such a reboot a lot of good ad people will necessarily have to redirect their careers. And other new skill sets will suddenly be in high demand.

“Whoa, whoa whoa,” you say, “Good lord man, you’re wrong in this, surely. If all this were really true it would have been revealed before now. It would have been obvious. Clients wouldn’t keep paying for interruptive ads. It never could have gone on this long.

“In fact by sheer virtue that clients keep paying to have the same agency conduits create and deploy traditional, interruptive models in interactive media – that must prove that it’s still valid, right?”

No I don’t believe that. The present economics, while very real today, create the convincing illusion that the industry must be right-configured. That it must be aligned with interactive media and therefore, the future of media. But this belief is little more than another kind of bubble. A bubble that was indeed solid at one time. Back when the Men were Mad. Except that today, the center has leaked out.

“But anyway,” you assert, “you’re missing the main point – lots of the ads do work for the most part, we get conversions! Definitive proof that everything is solid.”

For now perhaps, and to a point. So what will pop the bubble? Mere discovery of the “new best” – a true native model. That’s how tenuous this is.

At Lego they have a corporate mantra “only the best is good enough”. We all aspire to that in many things. The implication of that line though is that there must something else, something other than the “best” that is considered by most others to be “good enough”.

And today clients are willing to pay for our current best, which is good enough it seems to do the trick, while convincing us we’re on the right track. But I strongly assert, it’s not the best. There is a best that has been sitting in the wings (for 15 years!). Clients and consumers don’t seem to know this best is an option, I assume because they haven’t seen it yet.

Steve Jobs famously commented on innovating new solutions that “…people often don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” And so it goes here too.

Understanding “Native” – a New Best
To find a new best, we need to align ourselves firmly on the backbone of interactive media. So we need to know what interactive media really is.

That awful definition of Native Advertising at the top of this page (courtesy of wikipedia – the expression of our collective psychosis) illustrates a pathetic lack of understanding.

“…a web advertising method…”

Web advertising? Really?

Is that the “medium” you ad guys are working in? The World Wide Web? Ok, so what do you call it when the user is offline, not in a browser, using an app? Or some new unknowable device? Does the ad method just stop working there? C’mon, you’re thinking too small.

To find what’s right, you have to ask yourself “what functionally defines this medium landscape?” What one feature is consistent across all states of the medium, the web on PC, the web on mobile, apps, socializing on various platforms, both connected and offline etc.? And what attribute differentiates the medium from all other mediums.

The main point of difference and the consistent theme across all states is that the user is in control.

User control is the primary function afforded by the computer. That is what the medium is. It is the medium of users. Usership is what we mean by “interactive”.

Connectivity is merely the distribution of that control.

And we can’t gloss over this: it’s the user that is in control.

Not the content creators, certainly not the advertiser. No. Rather, content creators are just servants.

And that’s why advertisers, beholden for all time to interruption, flounder.

So fundamental is that largely unspoken truth, that the user should be in control, that every single time a user is annoyed with an interactive experience, it can be directly attributed to a breakdown in compliance with this one paradigm. Every – time. Every time a content creator attempts to assert his intent, his goals upon the user – the user recoils with recognition that something feels very wrong.

For well over a decade and to anyone who would listen, I have called this paradigm The Grand Interactive Order. It’s the first axiom of interactive. Really, it’s old – but worth a read, I think.

The second axiom I call the Interactive Trade Agreement.
This describes how sufficient value is necessary for any interaction in the medium to transpire. Sound familiar?

Its another very old idea that nevertheless seemed lost on most advertisers for years – except that they now talk about Native Advertising which is directly rooted in compliance with this axiom.

The age of reliance on a captive audience is falling behind us. We can no longer merely communicate the value of clients and products; today our messages must themselves be valuable. Be good enough that they will be sought out. Today ads must have independent value – in addition to a marketing message. Because for the first time consumers have to choose our “ads” over other content.

This quote above was not part of a 2013 Native Advertising deck. Though it might as well have been. It was actually a thread from Red Sky Interactive’s pitch deck made to a dozen fortune 500 firms between 1996 and 1999. It was philosophically part of Red Sky’s DNA.

In the 90s these ideas largely fell on deaf ears. It sounded good, but it scared too many people. People who were still trying wrap their heads around click-throughs and that viral thing.

Indeed, Native Advertising is just the ad industry re-discovering these basic ideas, once again, 15 years later.

Perhaps you can see why I feel no pity as I contemplate the big ad agencies falling by the wayside. They have had so much time and resource to adapt – had they only bothered to develop a strong understanding of the medium.

Maybe they can still pull out of their disconnected nose-dive.

In the spirit of willingness to beat my head against a wall until they do, I will offer something more than criticism.

Native Marketing

First – we need to drop this Native “Advertising” thing. As I have argued – advertising is about interruption by design – and that’s patently inauthentic.

However, advertising’s larger parent, “Marketing” does make sense. Ultimately what we want to do is find an iconic term that will help us stay on target, and marketing in my mind is much more integrated into the process of conducting business than advertising is. Native “Business” might be an even truer expression, but for now let’s sit in the middle with “Marketing”.

Next, the people. The people working in advertising today are, by in large, just not trained in the disciplines that true native marketing demands.

Planners cross over, however. Planners must still do market research in the future, study behavior and psychographics and develop a strategic insight – an insight that informs the new creative teams.

To wit, gone are teams made up of Creative Directors and Art Directors and Copywriters. That’s about communication of value. They’ll still exist somewhere but they’ll play a small service role.

True native solutions require the skills and sensibilities of the people who are experienced in creating businesses, content and products which – without the benefit of pre-aggregated viewers/users – people will pay for. These are silicon valley entrepreneurs, filmmakers, product designers, etc. These are the creative teams of the agency of the future, and they take the lead in development.

These teams must understand the client’s business. Not just at it’s surface – but thoroughly – every detail of sourcing, production, manufacturing processes and fulfillment. It’s the only way a truly native solution can be conceived. Because remember – this is not about creating a communication of value, the new goal is to create value.

We are further not just creating value at random, We are creating value to help grow a client’s business so the value we create must interlock into the client’s business. To be authentic. To honor the axioms.

So our agency of the future would know enough about the company that realistic implications and cost of operation and fulfillment of any proposal will have been considered.

As such, the agency will supply a business plan – as part of their proposal.

Example – Cool Shoes
Let me put myself out there for criticism.

Below is an example of what I think qualifies as a truly native marketing solution.

Each part of the system I’m going to describe has been done. But never together as a singular execution, and never under the context of marketing a larger brand.

Let’s pick a creative brand of footwear, like a Havaianas, a Nike, or a Converse. Cool brands and admittedly, those are always a little easier.

Part 1 – Product Integration

Today direct to garment printing is a generally straightforward affair. This is where a regular person can create artwork, and as an economical one-off job it can be printed professionally onto the fabric of the shoe, or flip flop rubber, or bag or shirt.

So a tool needs to be created for the products in question to allow users to upload art (and possibly even generate art), apply it to a template, and customize any other colors and features.

The company I co-founded created the first working version of Nike ID way back when, and Nike hasn’t changed it much since. You still basically just pick colors and monogram words.

But this is the full expression of that original inspiration. This takes it about as far as it can go – short of structural design. And beyond color choices, allows for true creative ownership. And that’s important.

This is about personalization, ownership and self expression. Factors that are critical when hoping to inspire engagement and later motivate sharing.

Naturally the user can then purchase their creation.

As I say, this is being done in places. And it’s only part of the solution.

Part 2 – Contracting The Consumer
The next part gets interesting, this is where creators of personal designs can choose to put their design into our client’s online store for others to browse and buy. All the social factors start to kick in here (such as following, commenting, rating etc). This is the platform on which a user can build an identity that raises his status.

But we go further, we allow the user to set a price, above ours, that his shoe design will cost. Normally we sell the product for $30 say, the user chooses $35. That margin on every sale goes straight back to the user.

Note – we are not paying the user to engage with our brand. What were doing is being honest and fair about the value that customer is providing our company.

What we’ve done here is create a platform where consumers are creators of our very products, and even paid employees of our company, albeit working on commission.

Again, all been done, but we are moving away from what has been done under the banner of a big brand, and moving into a business model.

Part 3 – Empowering Our Customer Contractors
Now that our customer has created a great design, and priced it in our store, we need to drop the third leg of the stool – we need to give him tools to further raise his status. To market his designs.

We create a tool that allows the customer to assemble posters, stickers, and movies, ads and spots. How the customer chooses to think of this is his call. But we provide a system that allows him to incorporate his design into artful executions – video of the design being printed on canvas, excellent typography, the ability to upload images and video of his own, access to a huge library of excellent music. In short we develop a small studio in a box. All the tools the customers needs to sell his own product to his own network. We must facilitate that.

Secondarily, like in the App Store, we can offer customers the ability to afford better placement in our storefront. They might even be allowed to trade sales dollars for that placement if they wish.

There are dozens of other ideas that can roll into such a system, but the above illustrates perhaps some basic parts.

I hope you can see that such a thing is a long way from an “ad campaign” even a so-called “native” one. Functioning together all three parts create a functional native ecosystem that centers around our client’s business model with a symbiotic business model of its own. A system that will result in consumers meaningfully expressing themselves and investing in the brand, buying the products, and evangelizing on our client’s behalf, by definition. Word will spread without a media buy because the system quite literally incentivises socializing, distribution of the message, and sales.

Going Native
This is just a starting point. And building in a payment scheme is not a defining feature of Native Marketing in my opinion. Rather there is a wide world of opportunity for smarter people than me if only agencies can wake up real fast to the true nature of the medium. That they will eventually be forced from accepting the advertising paradigm at face value, and the practice of interrupting consumers with creative yakking about the value or brands.

They must rebuild their position on the solid principles of interactive media – even though that means a significant shift in the skillsets required.

The promise of the medium is that anyone can become big, anyone can be in business, make money, solve problems, achieve fame, express themselves, become better, smarter and happier and it is your job as a Native Marketer to facilitate all of that for users on behalf of your clients’ and their business models.

In the Grand Interactive Order you are lowly servants of our King, the User. You must provide him with value. Or you will be cast out.

That’s as “native” as it gets.

And that, Mad Man, is the new deep end.

Advertisers Whine: “Do Not Track” Makes Our Job Really Super Hard

So the Association of National Advertisers got it’s panties all twisted in a knot because Microsoft was planning to build a “Do Not Track” feature into the next version of Internet Explorer – as a default setting. Theoretically this should allow users who use Explorer 10 to instruct marketers not to track the sites you visit, the things you search for, and links you click.

A letter was written to Steve Ballmer and other senior executives at Microsoft demanding that the feature be cut because, and get this, it “will undercut the effectiveness of our members’ advertising and, as a result, drastically damage the online experience by reducing the Internet content and offerings that such advertising supports. This result will harm consumers, hurt competition, and undermine American innovation and leadership in the Internet economy.”

This is about a feature which allows you to choose not to have your internet behavior tracked by marketers.

I’ll wait till you’re done laughing. Oh God my cheeks are sore.

And if the story ended here, I’d just gleefully use Explorer 10 and tell all the sputtering, stammering marketers who would dumbly fire advertisements for socks at me since I indeed bought some socks over 2 months ago indicating that I must be a “sock-buyer”, to suck it up.

But the story does not end there.

The problem is that “Do Not Track” is voluntary. Advertisers are technically able to ignore the setting and do everything you think you are disallowing. The industry has only agreed to adhere to the Do Not Track setting if it is not on by default – only if it has been explicitly turned on by a human being which would indicate that this person really truly does not want to be tracked. A default setting does not “prove” this intention.

So when wind of Microsoft’s plans became known Roy Fielding, an author of “Do Not Track” wrote a patch allowing Apache servers to completely ignore Microsoft’s setting by default. In support of this Fielding states:

“The decision to set DNT by default in IE10 has nothing to do with the user’s privacy. Microsoft knows full well that the false signal will be ignored, and thus prevent their own users from having an effective option for DNT even if their users want one.”

So Microsoft – who may very well have been grandstanding with its default DNT to earn points with consumers – backed down and set it to off, by default. Now if you turn it on – theoretically it should work for those users. But of course now the same stale rule applies only in reverse, the DNT setting will be “off” for most users – not because the user chose that setting, but because the user likely didn’t know any better – and presto – sock ads.

So the marketers breathe a sigh of relief. Crisis averted. Advertising’s parasitic, interruptive, low-bar-creative business model can prevail.

At least it will work until the day comes that users all start using DNT. At which point we’ll be right back here again with advertisers screeching that the whole thing is broken because it threatens the American way.

And if you’ve read any other posts on this blog you know I believe oppressive threat to the advertising business model is exactly what needs to happen.

At the end of the day – advertisers need to stop interrupting your attention and vying for surreptitious control over your privacy and your life.

The ad industry instead needs to learn how to create messages consumers actually want. Desirable, welcome things that don’t naturally result in the vast majority of the population idly wishing there was a button to disallow it, as is the case today.

If you are an advertiser you probably read this and have no idea what such a thing might be. And that’s the problem with your world view.

The Secret to Mastering Social Marketing

Social Marketing is huge.  It’s everywhere.  If you work in advertising today, you’re going to be asked how your clients can take advantage of it, how they can manage and control it.   There are now books, sites, departments, conferences, even companies devoted to Social Marketing.

The Secret to Mastering Social Marketing

Through these venues you’ll encounter a billion strategies and tactics for taking control of the Social Marketing maelstrom.  Some simple – some stupidly convoluted.

And yet through all of that there is really only one idea that you need to embrace.  One idea that rises above all the others.  One idea that trumps any social marketing tactic anyone has ever thought of ever.

It’s like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark  when Indy is in Cairo meeting with that old dude who is translating the ancient language on the jeweled headpiece that would show exactly where to dig.  And suddenly it dawns on them that the bad guys only had partial information.

“They’re digging in the wrong place!”

Well if you are focused on social marketing strategies and tactics – you’re digging in the wrong place.

You don’t control social marketing.  You don’t manage it.  You are the subject of it.

The secret to mastering social marketing is this:

Make the best product, and provide the best customer service.

Do this, and social marketing will happen.  Like magic.  That’s it.

Make the best product, and provide the best customer service.

There is no social marketing strategy that can turn a bad product or service into a good one.  No button, no tweet, no viral video campaign, no Facebook like-count, that will produce better social marketing results than simply offering the best product and customer service in your category.

And if this whole outlook deflates the hopes you had when you began reading this, you are probably among those searching for some easy, external way of wielding new tools and associated interactions in order to manipulate potential customers.  Of gaming the system.  Sorry.   You’re digging in the wrong place.

Social marketing is just the truth.  Or rather it needs to be.   And any effort you put into manipulating that truth will undermine your credibility when it’s revealed – because it will be.  In fact, with rare exception, your mere intervention in the social exchange will be, and should be, regarded with suspicion.

Like when the other guy’s lawyer tells you it’s a really good deal – just sign here.  O..kay…

Take the recent case of Virgin Media.  Reported to have some of the worst customer service satisfaction in the industry.  Something I can personally attest to.

It took me three months, eight take-the-entire-day-off-work-and-wait-around-for-them-to-show-up-at-an-undisclosed-time appointments (three of which were no-shows) and countless interminable phone calls to their based-on-current-call-volume-it-could-take-over-an-hour-for-an-operator automated answering system, to install one internet connection.  It then took an additional seven months (not exaggerating) to activate cable TV in my home (all the while paying for it monthly no less). But what makes this relevant was that after all the scheduling, rescheduling, no-shows, begging, re-rescheduling, being insulted, ignored and generally treated like a complete waste of the company’s effort, the day I Tweeted that “Virgin Media Sucks!”, I got an immediate response – in that public forum, not privately – feigning sincere interest in helping me.

Alas the superficial social marketing tactic was in utter conflict with the truth.  And so here I am, throwing Virgin Media under the train as a poster-child of disingenuous social marketing strategies, dutifully reporting how utterly crappy and self-centered the company is, making sure that many more people know that Virgin’s voice in the social scene is a complete sham and should  be regarded with extreme suspicion… because their customer service indeed sucks complete ass.

Conversely, had Virgin Media put effort into helping me when I needed them to – this post would be a lot shorter.  Hell I might even have tweeted that Virgin Media is insanely great and the leader to go with.

Anyone who indeed manages to trick a portion of this population – this internet-connected population – will eventually see it blow up and that will be far more damaging than if they’d left well enough alone.  You can’t lie in the age of full exposure.

Just create the best product or service in your category.  And then serve your customers and the inquiring public better than anyone else using whatever communication tools are available at the given moment in time.

Because you don’t master social marketing, you simply serve your King.

AdBlock Works Like Magic, Ad Agencies Collectively Wet Selves

The poor ad industry. It just keeps getting its ass handed to it.

Well here we go again.

For years I have wished there was a magic button I could push that would eliminate all ads from any web page. A friend responded by suggesting that that’s stupid, and you shouldn’t have to push a button, it should just happen automatically. Well, right. Duh.

I was then introduced to AdBlock for Chrome and Safari.

Install one of these browser extensions and like magic you will instantly and miraculously be browsing an ad-free internet. It is the Internet you always imagined but cynically never thought you would see.

Literally, no ads – anywhere. No popups, no overlays, no banners, no stupid, hyperactive, take-over-your-screen “cool, immersive experiences” designed to earn some half-rate art director a Clio at your preciously timed expense. Nope – all gone. Cleaned up. Nothing but pure, clean, content. Exactly what you always wished the internet was.

So I spent a day browsing the net – ad-free – and thoroughly happy about it.  But I began to wonder what all the poor agency people were going to do. Surely they are aware of these, right? I mean AdBlocks developer, this one dude, has 2 million customers, and the number is growing.

Hey, Agencies, are you getting this? …Yet? Not only do consumers routinely wish they wouldn’t happen by the product of your full effort, they are now able to affect the medium to destroy you. Or rather, destroy your ancient, irrelevant tactics.

The fact is – interruptive ads should disappear – not because we’ve all installed adblockers, but because banners, popups and other interruptive tactics are patently inauthentic in an interactive environment and the ad industry should have understood this fact a decade ago and spent the last 10 years developing authentic models for advocating a client’s brand.

There are ways to do it – but it means ad agencies will have to reorganize and fundamentally change their skill sets. It means they’ll have to hire entrepreneurial creative teams who understand business processes and manufacturing and fulfillment systems.

Hear this, ad agencies: the simple fact is, your interruptive advertising tactics are fundamentally, critically flawed.  Someday you will indeed have to adapt by developing valuable offerings, well above the slightly amusing ad content you produce today.

In the meantime, it’s lucky for you there are a lot of users who don’t think to go looking for a magical ad blocker. At least not until they hear about it.

But don’t worry, I won’t say anything.

 

If There Were A Marketing God

Sometimes I like to imagine what ads would be like if there were an omnipresent Marketing God.  Some supreme, completely honest marketing voice that knew all.  All about the products and companies that we have access to.

In order to draw fair and complete comparisons between complicated products and conditions you have to think that ads created by the Lord our Marketer, would be pretty wordy, but because the Marketing God really wants to make sure I know the truth, and knows I am lazy, all the words would go into my head in the form of a native thought.  Pop!  Full understanding.

Like an ad for a pen might go:

“My Son‚ ” My marketing God always starts his advertising copy that way.

“My Son, on the one hand at 50% off, Writemate’s New Gel Premium Grip pen is well worth its monetary price, costing you $0.02 less than the cost of materials, production, packaging and distribution.  On the other, I beg that you weigheth the claim of “disposable”.  Alas, it is not disposable in a compositional sense, excepting that once it runs out of ink you will simply wish to discard it.    In fact, if you buy now, the specific pen you are holding will persist intact for 357 years at which time it will be mistaken for a silverfish and swallowed by an as-yet un-evolved Sea Lion species near South American shores.  That will be on a Sunday.  It will Continue reading

Gap is the Biggest Wussy on Earth

So we all saw the new Gap logo. It looked weird. It looked wrong. It looked like all sorts of other unbecoming words that were broadcast over Twitter and Facebook within hours of its unveiling.

Then, in what is going to be (or should be) remembered as the biggest corporate branding fail of the last decade, Gap caved in to all the little whiny Tweeters and defensively pulled its shiny, new logo.

Anyone who thinks that move was rational – that pulling the new logo was the best thing Gap could have done in the situation – is somewhere between equally ball-less and an idiot.

No, it was the worst thing Gap could have done in the situation. I’ve read a few posters who think the whole thing was an intentional rouse to gain attention. Far fetched. There are better ways of gaining attention than intentionally making your company look like a bunch of bumbling idiots. That’s not it.

I’m sure Gap thinks they were “using the medium intelligently to respond to consumer opinion” or something one might read in a Forrester report on social marketing. But really they are just pussies.

The fact is, any time you launch a logo redesign you have some people who complain. The new logo always “feels weird”. It feels weird because it’s different. Like the…

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