filchyboy | chronotope

chronotope safersex condomania johnthemaiden 

christopher l. filkins

March 2003
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Feb   Apr

how this works
currently reading
The Red Queen

Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
by Matt Ridley

7 Recent Posts
The Adventures of Wendy Will...
Condomania Is Having A Sale!
Howard Dean On the Bush Doct...
For A Moment
Shut Down Over War Photos?
Searching for the Middle
See What Happens
Did You Notice That CNN

Thursday, March 6, 2003

Several days I wrote up some information about the Raging Cow blogging initiative. During the course of this I posted part one of my interview with Todd. In the next day or so I'll post some of my own thoughts about all of this along with more annotation. Here's part two:

Me - First a clarification: You wrote, "But to your point, no we did not focus on any one community or publishing platform. And realize, this group is only the start. We plan to invite hundred more into the project. If they want in, we'll find them a place."

Are you saying that you have plans to have a specific number of 100 more bloggers on this project, or did you intend to write hundreds as a generic "as many as we can get or are interested"?

TC - We have stated publicly that we hope to involve hundreds of bloggers to the project. Obviously we have a deliberate plan for picking them, but it's up to the blog community as to how many ultimately want to join in. For that matter, it's up to the bloggers themselves if they want to join in through us, getting sample product and all, or simply buy it and comment on their own.

Either way is valid, which is the point.

Me - It is rather obvious that you had a professional artist/designer/copy editor involved in the production of the Raging Cow site itself. Are the project bloggers you brought in involved in that sites content? Is it a multi-author log? Or do you have someone on staff who is writing that?

The notion of having a cow keep a journal is rather witty. The additional "characters" outside of the teenagers & the cow though seem grafted on after the fact. Can you give me some feedback on the genesis of the additional individual characters and how they relate to this project?

TC - Both your other questions really go into strategy and tactics, which I can't go into that much. But I will share this with you. We believe brands have a distinct personality, and that's obviously true when you look at Raging Cow. So there is a full document that outlines the cow's personality. And that goes for the other characters in the blogs. For the sake of consistency there is a primary writer on each character, but obviously the process is collaborative.

The other bloggers we work with were not involved in the development of the site, although they offered some great advice after it launched.

The cam shots, on the other hand, tend to be a bit of comedy by committee.

Me - You bring up cam girls and well to be honest that opens up my next question.

To be a bit, well, aggressive here I am fascinated by your choice of cam kids for this project. I realize that cams are very very popular with your target demographic but since the cam girls, no matter how clean they present themselves, are almost always one click away from adult entertainment it seems a curious choice to me. I was struck immediately that your stance is almost like that of briar rabbit when you say we wanted to choose bloggers who would stay away from content "that would be inappropriate for our client's product to be in proximity to, such as porn links, etc." Since in choosing to plug into the cam girl culture you bring into the situation a lot of "potential" baggage which may undermine your efforts.

I would like to hear your opinion of all of this keeping in mind that you obviously will not reveal your strategy to me in detail.

TC - I think you've hit on a very interesting point. The whole "cam girl" issue has some unique subtext. Here's something to ponder: Are stereotypical cam girls linking to porn because they want to, like the money, or want the traffic those sites drive to their site?

To be sure there are people online who have no concern for the image they project and the digital company they keep. But we've seen this pattern before. Think back to the personal home pages of the mid-90s, when suddenly everyone wanted to run a banner ad on their site to make money, no matter what the banner said.

We won't even try to take credit for it, but I think what we're doing is at the leading edge of a new chapter for blog sites. Now it is possible to gain credibility, and ultimately be rewarded in some fashion, without having to accept every porn-portal link offered to you.

In this chapter blogs will be the smallest of niche entertainment sites, true reality programming if you will. They will develop loyal followings who tune in regularly. Inevitably that will attract the attention of people trying to market products to that audience. So the question becomes what is the right way to incorporate that marketing? What should the line be between advertising and the content? For that matter, what obligation do any of these bloggers have to disclose anything?

Our approach here is not much different than a traditional sampling event. You've seen these where crews hand out samples of product, stickers, coupons, etc. The goal there is to get people to try your product and hopefully they'll tell their friends. That is the core of our strategy, we're doing sampling. But we're doing it with people that have much bigger groups of friends than I ever had at that age (or now for that matter). Bloggers we choose to work with get the product, some free swag like shirts and stickers, and a handful of coupons. They get exactly what they would get if they encountered a sampling crew outside some stadium.

As for our blog, its just there to tell a story. Someone posting to your site actually said it better than I can:

I read through that raging cow fake blog and I thought it was funny

>>*shocked*. Somebody somewhere with talent wrote that and I think they were genuinely trying to entertain me more than they were trying to sell a product and Dr. Pepper paid for that guy to entertain me even though he wasn't all in my face with a product.<<

That made the day for a lot of people.

Me - Can you give some examples of other web centric initiatives, outside of your own firm, which have set the bar for such a branding story in your intitiative?

For instance a few years ago the "Blair Witch" project was a big success for building a branding story for a commercial property. Please give me a list of successful projects your staff found valuable to learn from and conversely those which you felt bombed and you learned what not to do.

TC - To be honest, the spark of this story came very early one when our creative director suddenly speaking as if he was the cow, lamenting the morning ritual of the milking machine. At that point we knew there was a story to tell, the only question was where?

As for earlier initiatives by others. I think the AI fiction web spun a couple years ago was pure genius. It probably was better than the movie itself. If I stretch way back there was a great attempt at an online soap opera in the early days of the web. It was called The Spot, kind of a Real World online.

I would be very interested in seeing that kind of "programming" making a return to the web. It seems to me it would be far more interesting here, where people can interact with it, rather than on television.

Me - I notice that you brought the bloggers and their parents to Dallas. If these bloggers are 18+ why were parents involved?

It would seem, from my limited understanding, that this relationship between Dr. Pepper/Seven Up and the bloggers leaves someone open to some liability. While a paid trip and some swag may not constitute an employee relationship it does seem to render the firms involved beholden in some fashion to these teenagers/young adults safety in all of this. Can you give me a bit of background on this and talk a bit about how this was discussed with the bloggers?

TC - How about I answer the first part. The second part is legalese, and that's not my cup of tea.

We asked for their parents to attend because we wanted to go the extra mile to assure everyone that we weren't trying to take advantage of anyone. It was an amazing weekend. Only one of the bloggers couldn't make it. Two came w/o parents by choice. But all the bloggers had known each other online for more than a year. It was like watching a class reunion, except these are people who had never met.

I caught part of the conversation the parents were having. For them it was like a support group, parents of bloggers.

The truth is we could have started the project without the meeting. But it proved enormously educational for all of us and probably the client. We spent a lot of time asking questions and listening to make sure we weren't going about this the wrong way.

Along these lines, let me take a swing at something one of the people on the comments board here said about all this. <>

>>...The people behind this scheme may even have wanted bloggers with integrity to write about their products, but their lies the Catch 22: once you have bribed somebody to write about your product, their integrity is compromised. And in some shape or form, these bloggers have been bribed - whether with flattery, money or material goods... <<

I'd suggest to you this is a dichotomy that goes well beyond our piece of the world. A TV reporter wants to interview you about the wreck you just saw. Does the presence of a TV camera make you an eye-witness? Or does the now detailed enhanced version you recount qualify you?

Back to bloggers, there's no doubt someone will work on a project like this somewhere and go overboard. At that moment the horse that brought her to glory will crumble into dust. The readers are gone, the links worthless.

If you're looking for the mother lode of freebies, keep on moving. There's nothing here. The key to integrity is articulating what you stand for, understanding how the translates into the decisions you make, and possess the piece of mind that comes from doing the right thing.

We can pass out hundreds of sampling backs to bloggers, ask them for a link or even a fan sign. But it is a certainty that one of those bloggers isn't going to like the drink. I would be stunned if that isn't documented well on the site.

If we wanted anything else we'd have a slick shot of some farmers daughter reclining on a seldom used tractor and draining a carton of Chocolate Insanity. Instead we have a raging cow, complete primal moo that will shake you from any sleep, racing across the country, and soon across many of your favorite web sites.

But that's another issue.

3/6/03:9:29:53 AM PST    

Dave Says (On the Subject of War & Government)
They say that they love the American people but hate our government. They don't understand the US. Read the Constitution. Check out the first three words. It's our government. You can't like us and not like our government, and vice versa.

The problem with this is that it is not our government. The United States is in a state of Constitutional breach and until we have a legally elected President we will continue to be so.

This is why the above comments are so wrong. It does not say in the Constitution that the Supreme Court decides issues related to an election. The Constitution has a well described method for dealing with election snafus. These methods were ignored by the court and all involved. The end result is that we do no have a government. This is why it is so important to overturn this pseudo-potus from his pretend throne. I heard on NPR this morning interviews with Iraqi children who want us to liberate the country. I am all for liberating Iraq but by doing so we strengthen the hand of George Bush. The man should be tried for treason not empowered to wage war.

In normal times what Dave says would make sense in normal times. But we are not in normal times. We are in between normal times. The next properly elected President will have to manage the problems at home caused by this breach.

3/6/03:9:27:06 AM PST    

Yesterday I saw a guy overdose on heroin...that was not nice at all. He had been dragged out of the bar next to my work and was outside completely fucked up and unconscious, the paramedics were trying to resuscitate him by giving him oxygen, pumping on his chest, and yelling at him to open his eyes. A crowd of people milled around and just watched, as soon as he was put into the ambulance and the cops dispersed, everyone just walked away and carried on with their day. Human beings are so strange, it's just odd how we all rubber-neck as soon as we see a "broken" person, it interests people to see others in that state, they just stand around and watch as somebody nearly dies, then wonder off to do their groceries or whatever. This post is getting so long and random now...

3/6/03:12:02:06 AM PST    

this machine kills fascists

how this works
© 1996-2003 Christopher L. Filkins.
Last update: 3/27/03; 7:20:54 AM.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.