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Old Habits Die Hard

I was more than a little surprised recently when a client told me he wanted to add posters to his social media campaign. I like posters. But that’s not social media.

And it wasn’t just posters. Oh no. He proceeded to dictate a veritable cornucopia of traditional media tools and materials that needed to be added to the campaign, “immediately”.

It felt like I was watching someone doing a supermarket trolley dash. “You have one minute to fill your basket with anything you can find in the store. Ready? Go.” The wide-eyed and slightly panic-stricken shopper reaches for anything available as he screeches around the store, colliding with towers of soup cans and packets of corn flakes. A minute later he reaches the checkout to be greeted by the presenter:

“Congratulations! You’ve managed to collect dog food, packets of couscous and some feminine hygiene products!”

“But I don’t have a dog. I wanted salmon.”

“Never mind. There’s still the, eh, couscous!”

“I don’t like couscous. I wanted salmon.”

“Well, perhaps your wife… umm…”

“Not married.”


“I wanted salmon.”

“So why didn’t you go and get salmon?”

“I wasn’t ready.”

So my client scurried around my office flailing his arms and asking me to make a list:

“We need posters, loads of posters, posters everywhere. And ads. I want ads. Ads need to be in everything. We’ll have online ads too, you know, the square ones, and the tall thin ones and, ah, what the hell, give me some spinny-roundy ones. Get me radio ads and leaflets and don’t forget some CPTs, whatever they are. And stickers I want stickers. We’ll give them out to everyone on the streets. Everyone loves a sticker. Who doesn’t like a good sticker, eh?”

“But this is a social media campaign. Those things aren’t social media.”

“I know, I know, but I can’t risk it. I’ve always had posters. I’m letting you do the social thing because, you know, everyone says I should. But that doesn’t mean I like it. I like posters.”

“So, is there an additional budget for this integrated campaign?”

“Eh, no. You’ll have to take the cost out of the social media budget.”

“Right. So it’s not a social media campaign now, it’s a poster campaign.”

“Well, if you look at it like that, technically, eh, yes.”

As I escorted the client to the door, he was still complaining fervently about the fully descriptive nature of the expletives I used to describe where he should shove his posters.

We still appear to struggle with this brave new world. I say ‘we’, but I really mean, ‘you’. I gave up struggling a while ago and embraced the inevitability of social change. B2B businesses in particular are still reluctant to let go.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘posters’, or any other traditional media. But you can’t pretend you’re ready for social change when you’re not. There’s nothing wrong with integrated marketing either. But you can’t partially commit to a social strategy and switch it on and off when it suits you. Your social activity is a strategic, long-term relationship with your customers and prospective customers. It’s about what they want, and not necessarily what you might like. Oh, and for the record, they don’t want your fucking stickers.

You can no longer have everything all your own way. Sorry about that. So the next time you talk to me about your social media requirement, I’m going to give you one minute to convince me you’re 100% committed. Ready? Go.

Scot McKee
Managing Director
Birddog Ltd.

+44 20 7323 6666