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The Lincoln Fry Fracas Unfolds…

Dan comments on McDonald’s use of a fake blog as part of it’s recent Lincoln fry ad campaign. He also points over to Kevin Dugan who while liking the campaign is equally appalled that someone would create a fake blog.

I’m not likely to win any points here but hey, it’s all about free speech right? Creating fake blogs given the righteousness of the blogspehere isn’t a particularly smart thing to do. But part of me says lighten up gang – they’re having a little fun. A bit like all those newspapers that demonstrate at least a modicum of wit on April Fools day. From the get go I saw the blog as nothing other than fun marketing campaign – a little goofy, silly and OK, lame…

The great thing about the blogsphere is all points of view are represented – we all get to express our thoughts on acts like this. And, at the same time, I suspect provide a useful little virtual focus group for the marketers at McDonalds.

And all this chatter, increases the viral buzz behind the campaign. In fact, it might be the case that unless you are really, really offended by something you blog nada on the grounds that all you’re doing is fanning the flames of the very thing that annoyed you in the first place.

And I wonder if at some point the major Blog engines start to control the very medium they are spawning. Maybe only real blogs are allowed? Now were getting into censorship, which begs the very question we started with – Is there anything wrong with a fake blog?

8 Responses

  1. By Eric Schwartzman on February 8th, 2005 at 11:26 pm

    I’d be interested to know if you saw Ron Aslop’s piece in the Journal today about the need for M.B.A. Programs to do a better job teaching students communications skills. What struck me was that there was no mention at all of how technology is both changing the rules and raising the stakes. Did you see it? I didn’t find anything on the blogosphere about it so I put a post up on mine. I found out about it in one of those generic emails from PRSA. Care to weigh in?

  2. By kevin dugan on February 9th, 2005 at 5:13 am

    Andy: It occurs to me that McD’s is pleased as punch over all the Google juice they are getting over this. But here are a few thoughts that are more passion than righteousness.

    Marketers do something like this and it is harmless fun. PR people do something like this and we’re lambasted as being unethical spinmeisters with no soul or intelligence.

    From there, the fake blog shows a complete misunderstanding of the medium. The technology is designed to create an open, honest dialogue with customers. Fake blogs say “we just want awareness. We just want control over the medium. This is how we do it. By throwing money at a fake blog.”

    McD, Mazda and the lot of them are getting a response. But why don’t they get a better, longer-lasting response by sponsoring blogs? Everyone wants to tap into the potent formula of blog + RSS x search = contagious buzz.

    But marketers are taking the quick route by merely raising our ire. They’re cashing in on the speed of the medium when they could spend even less perhaps and really make a positive impact on their brand. GM and Microsoft show us two very different, very good examples.

    Blog sponsorship is the best of both worlds for these marketers. They can tap into “Blog Power” and it acknowledges that they understand blogs enough to know their agency cannot, and should not, do it for them. Everyone wants to be first to get the reward of blogging. Blog sponsorship would seem to be the best of both worlds. It won’t make the agencies a lick of money though. So I’m betting we’ll continue down the fake path.

  3. By Elisa Camahort on February 9th, 2005 at 9:37 am

    Andy: I’ll join you up on the stake, because I agree with you. I started to write a comment here, and it turned into a dissertation! So instead I wrote my own post referencing this post and Kevin’s comment above.

    Bottom line: I’m more interested in whether this was a good marketing move than whether it aggravated some bloggers:

  4. By Jeremy Pepper on February 9th, 2005 at 9:51 am

    It was inevitable that there would be – and have been – fake blogs. But, the bigger picture is so what? Is this really going to affect our lives that drastically?

    McDonald’s is auctioning off the fake fry, and raising funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities – that’s what matters at the end of the day.

  5. By Shawn Lea on February 9th, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    I agree. I thought it was fairly obvious that the blog was a “joke.” Just like the ad was a “joke” – some seem to think in a more literal sense than others. I did not see the blog as PR while the ads were marketing. They were all part of an advertising campaign that drew people to a Web site that played along with the “funny” nature of the ads. I didn’t like the ads – I didn’t think they were smart use of advertising dollars. But I was not insulted or offended by a “fake” blog – it was called Mike’s Lincoln Fry blog (the man in the commercial). I don’t think they were trying to capitalize on search engine google juice or viral buzz marketing. It was just supposed to be a funny advertising campaign that wasn’t too damned funny in the end. I was most shocked by the idea that an a campaign that was approved that quickly – I mean the Amazon toast thing it’s mocking was not that long ago. Was no one else shocked that an agency and a company liked McDonald’s agreed on and approved a campaign that quickly? I was.

  6. By Andy Lark on February 10th, 2005 at 8:31 am

    First, thanks for all the great comments… Eric, Did see the WSJ piece. It strikes me that the issue isn’t so much about teaching execs communications skills – although that ought to be a pretty big priority… It’s about teaching communicators communications skills relative to the new world order, technology, media trends, and the shifts taking place in society.

  7. By enan on June 14th, 2006 at 11:25 am
  8. By alex on November 13th, 2006 at 6:38 am

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