What happens when ad agencies start hiring journalists to tell the “authentic” brand story? To say that this question interests me — a public radio producer & host who is now interviewing with agencies — would be an understatement.

The panel was hosted by the irrepressible Bob Garfield of Ad Age and WNYC’s On The Media fame. Garfield kept the panelists on their toes, rewarding them when they disagreed with each other and tsk tsking when they uttered “I agree…”

Here are some highlights from “Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising” (#brandjo)

Setting the Tone:
Monson: We are not making journalists obsolete by integrating them into agencies. We’re teaching agencies and brands how to be publishers.
Garfield: The marketing guy in me says “cool!” The journalist in me wants to punch you in the face.
Monson: Well, you should come work for us
Garfield: Given the state of journalism, that’s the first job offer I’ve received in months.

McDonald’s & Ford Get It Right

McDonald’s Mom’s program
McDonald’s invited moms to join them everywhere from the potato farms to the kitchen. Videod their honest reactions, including the negative comments, e.g. mom who saw eggs in kitchen and asked what they were for. When told they’re for egg McMuffin’s, she exclaimed “you use real eggs!?”

Ford Bold Moves
Brian Clark (CEO GMD Studios) gave ford credit for moving away from “Sheet Metal Porn.” In other words, ads featuring sexy shots of speeding cars. In Bold Moves, Ford allowed film crews to come into board meetings & other places where film crews shouldn’t be. Got journalists involved & created debates about future of Ford. Kudos to Ford for not censoring employees & honchos

Pepsi Refresh’s Real Coup
Shiv Singh, a marketer at Pepsi, detailed what he said was the real success of the Pepsi Refresh project. 300,000 ideas were submitted and Pepsi gave money to some worthy causes (and probably a lot of bad ones in my opinion of this improving, but very flawed program). But Singh says the best thing for the brand are those 300,000 ideas. They give Pepsi a look at what people think are the most important matters of today. This data is much more valuable than studies on how Pepsi tastes.

Chrysler Crashes – Don’t Overreact to Social Media Mistakes
Chrysler fired its PR firm after the following Tweet (loose quote):

“If Detroit is the #motorcity, then why can’t anyone here fucking drive!?”

So what happened? First, Monson says the poor PR guy or gal likely hit the wrong button on Hootsuite and sent this Tweet from their corporate account and not their personal one. Could have happened to any of us! Several more mistakes associated with this instance:
Clark: Firing the guy gave it more press than the tweet in the first place.
Singh: Chrysler should have an employee doing the Tweeting, not a 3rd party.
Singh: when there’s a tweet error, we need to approach it like humans… people make mistakes
Garfield: The PR guy / agency shouldn’t have been fired… should have gotten a raise, because all the previous tweets about “fully independent suspension” didn’t create conversation / impact

“Brand Not Really Journalism: The Rise of Semi-Journalism”
At the end of the panel, a questioner said he wished the panel would have talked more about the ethics of journalists becoming brand ambassadors. I agree. We did not get into it much.
Eastman: We can talk semantics, but really we are talking about blurring of different skills. “What we know for certain is there is an interest in doing this.”
Garfield: perhaps the name for panel should have been: “Brand Not Really Journalism: The Rise of Semi-Journalism”

 

2 Responses to Brand Journalism

  1. [...] What happens when ad agencies start hiring journalists to tell the “authentic” brand story? To say that this question interests me — a public radio producer & host who is now interviewing with agencies — would be an understatement. Here is the  full post. [...]