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A Fun Panel on Horrible Social Media Ad Campaigns

Currently I’m sitting in the “The Suxorz: The Worst Ten Social Media Ad Campaigns of 2007” panel at SXSW. The panel is full of interesting, and well-known, characters in the ad/media space.

This panel of bloggers and marketers will dissect ten terrible ad campaigns that abused the ideals of people-powered media, then award The Suxorz Trophy to the worst.

Worst Social Media Ad Campaigns Panel

Round 1:

  • Molson (Charlotte Selles) – Use Facebook to share pictures of yourself using our product and we’ll give the winner a trip for five to Cancun.
  • Carleton Draught (Rebecca Lieb) – YouTube video, “A Big Ad”
  • PayPerPost and Hewlet Packard (Jeff Jarvis) – Hates the idea of buying bloggers. Calls PPP evil. Calls it a “human splog”: human spam blog.
  • Wal-Mart (Steve Hall) – Wal-marting across America. Fake blog ad campaign.

Round 2:

  • Rahodeb (Charlotte Selles) – John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods going onto forums and creating negative posts on his competitors (Wild Oats). Message: don’t lie.
  • Cisco’s The Human Network (Jeff Jarvis) – Went into Wikipedia an entered a page about the Human Network created by Cisco… Then taking that idea into the blogosphere and getting bloggers to write about it, “shilling”. Big blogs took part, including TechCrunch, GigaOm, etc…
  • Diet Coke + Mentos (Steve Hall) – Example of a big company “not getting it” and trying to shut it down, then after it hits they start to “own it”.
  • Vespa (Rebecca Lieb) – Inauthenticity in the blogosphere. A blog about Vespa, which was good until Vespa lost interest in it and then it became a derelict blog that they just left languish and tarnish their brand.

Round 3:

  • Agency.com Subway video (Rebecca Lieb) – Horrible self-made video on Agency.com trying to land the Subway business.
  • Target Rounders (Steve Hall) – Clandestine buzz marketing campaign. “tell all your friends, but don’t tell them that you’re doing this for Target”.
  • Giuliani campaign (Jeff Jarvis) – He was not scared of terrorists, but he was scared of the internet. You couldn’t even go into his MySpace page.
  • All I want for xmas is a PSP (Charlotte Selles) – Fake fan PSP blog. 550+ negative blog posts, really turned their fans off.

There have been some good entries. Voting for the winner of each round is done by the crowd in the room. Jeff Jarvis tends to do the best job of presenting his ideas, so his entries have won both of the first rounds (PayPerPost and Cisco’s Human Network). Round 3 goes to Rebecca Lieb (Agency.com’s Subway video).

“It’s about 3 things: 1) . 2) don’t lie. 3) don’t corrupt.” Jarvis

“This kind of advertising is hurting our online ecosystem. It needs to be self-policed by those within the industry.” Lieb

The panel is now deciding between PayPerPost, Cisco and Agency.com for the winner. Looks like PayPerPost and HP win this in the final round. So, from the advertisers ranks, they don’t like PPP. It’s interesting to see such a passionate response to them amongst those within this industry.

“Is there a role for agencies in this new social media world?” Jarvis


  1. It’s great that they spend time doing this. It’s like the Razzie Awards for films. Hey, give me a heads up if you hit up any more interesting panels. I look forward to attending yours tomorrow.

  2. This is like big labels trying to co-opt emerging fringe bands, creating conditions where the right fans ‘discover’ the indie band. At some point, the ruse is uncovered.

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