Embracing Marketing Mistakes

Walmarting Across America Failure and other hot influencer marketing lessons with former Ogilvy CEO Marshall Manson

April 30, 2024 Prohibition PR Season 1 Episode 31
Walmarting Across America Failure and other hot influencer marketing lessons with former Ogilvy CEO Marshall Manson
Embracing Marketing Mistakes
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Embracing Marketing Mistakes
Walmarting Across America Failure and other hot influencer marketing lessons with former Ogilvy CEO Marshall Manson
Apr 30, 2024 Season 1 Episode 31
Prohibition PR

Unlock the secrets of thriving in a volatile media world with Marshall Manson. This episode promises a goldmine of insights as we navigate audience engagement's transformation in the wake of Google and social media's evolving roles. Discover strategic nuggets on marketing approaches and the rise of misinformation, learning how brands can pivot to stay pertinent as the market churns ceaselessly.

Step into the realm of leadership within the communications universe and witness the power of CEOs and executives as pivotal online voices. Marshall Manson, with his illustrious career traversing Edelman, Ogilvy, and Brunswick, illustrates the compelling blend of authenticity and expertise that fuels today's digital discourse. The Edelman Trust Barometer's latest findings serve as a backdrop, spotlighting the gravitation towards trust in relatable figures against the fading influence of traditional corporate voices. Our conversation delves into the strategic importance of leadership teams as critical conduits for strengthening brand narratives and the potential risks and rewards hinged to their personal branding.

The episode wraps with a candid examination of the "Walmarting Across America" PR fiasco and its enduring lessons for the sphere of influencer marketing. We go behind the curtain of strategies that stumble and the ethical dilemmas they stir, providing a real-time learning experience from campaigns that missed the mark. Moreover, Marshall imparts the wisdom of learning from past mistakes, pushing boundaries, and the importance of transparency in pioneering new digital terrains. Tune in for an episode brimming with compelling stories and strategic wisdom, arming you with the know-how to craft your message to resonate with your audience through the shifting media landscape.

Follow Marshall:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marshallmanson/

Would you like to know if your social media and content strategy is perfect for this year? Book a free 15-minute brand discovery call here with Chris, and we will help you grow your brand today. And if you like the show, please leave us a review, or even just a thumbs up. It is very much appreciated - we want your feedback.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the secrets of thriving in a volatile media world with Marshall Manson. This episode promises a goldmine of insights as we navigate audience engagement's transformation in the wake of Google and social media's evolving roles. Discover strategic nuggets on marketing approaches and the rise of misinformation, learning how brands can pivot to stay pertinent as the market churns ceaselessly.

Step into the realm of leadership within the communications universe and witness the power of CEOs and executives as pivotal online voices. Marshall Manson, with his illustrious career traversing Edelman, Ogilvy, and Brunswick, illustrates the compelling blend of authenticity and expertise that fuels today's digital discourse. The Edelman Trust Barometer's latest findings serve as a backdrop, spotlighting the gravitation towards trust in relatable figures against the fading influence of traditional corporate voices. Our conversation delves into the strategic importance of leadership teams as critical conduits for strengthening brand narratives and the potential risks and rewards hinged to their personal branding.

The episode wraps with a candid examination of the "Walmarting Across America" PR fiasco and its enduring lessons for the sphere of influencer marketing. We go behind the curtain of strategies that stumble and the ethical dilemmas they stir, providing a real-time learning experience from campaigns that missed the mark. Moreover, Marshall imparts the wisdom of learning from past mistakes, pushing boundaries, and the importance of transparency in pioneering new digital terrains. Tune in for an episode brimming with compelling stories and strategic wisdom, arming you with the know-how to craft your message to resonate with your audience through the shifting media landscape.

Follow Marshall:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marshallmanson/

Would you like to know if your social media and content strategy is perfect for this year? Book a free 15-minute brand discovery call here with Chris, and we will help you grow your brand today. And if you like the show, please leave us a review, or even just a thumbs up. It is very much appreciated - we want your feedback.

Follow Chris Norton:
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TikTok
LinkedIn

Follow Will Ockenden:
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LinkedIn

Follow The Show:
X
TikTok
YouTube

Speaker 3:

Welcome to Socially Unacceptable. From F***ups to Fame, the marketing podcast that celebrates the professional mishaps, mistakes and misjudgments, while delivering valuable marketing and life lessons in the time it takes you to eat your lunch.

Speaker 2:

What if the sort of Google as portal to the whole internet begins to erode? What does that mean for marketers? Well, it means that's a less certain place to go looking for audience. Same thing with social.

Speaker 1:

You know social media platforms are now broadly eating themselves you said, used the word inevitable there, which has probably sent shivers down the spine of some listeners. So are you saying it is inevitable that brands, regardless of who they are, will face some sort of misinformation attack in the future, without question?

Speaker 2:

The question becomes in this new, evolving media landscape, how do you actually get to your audiences, how do you discern who they are and where they are? How do you get your messages in front of them? Where do you go to do that? And there's some interesting emerging opportunities.

Speaker 4:

In this week's episode, will and I speak to the amazing Marshall Manson who has worked at and run some of the world's biggest PR firms. He's a former managing director at Edelman and even an ex-CEO at Ogilvy and was most recently a partner at Brunswick PR. Marshall is an experienced leader in agency corporate affairs and marketing. He's worked for a variety of major companies and brands and has a wealth of experience in both brand marketing and corporate communications. Throughout his career, marshall has created and executed successful digital marketing strategies for major drinks brands and several global FMCG brands. I know you're going to enjoy this episode because Marshall has a very unique take on the media landscape and how to stay relevant while it's changing. So sit back, relax and let's hear how you can stay relevant while the media around you is changing. Enjoy. Welcome back to Socially Acceptable. This week in the studio we've got the lovely Marshall Manson. Welcome to the studio, marshall, thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for making the trip up from lovely London Absolutely delighted. It was a beautiful trip, beautiful day.

Speaker 4:

So why don't you tell us a little bit about your experience? You've had an interesting career in what you've been doing and at the moment you're taking a bit of time out to do extra insightful strategies you've been talking about.

Speaker 2:

I don't know about that, but it's been a fantastic journey. I've had the chance to do a bit of anything and everything over the years. I started in politics a million years ago. I worked in kind of corporate and public affairs in Washington. I came over here in 2008. I've been in London now for 16 years. Got here, got into marketing, did quite a lot of marketing, left Edelman, went to Ogilvy, did even more marketing and a whole load of other really interesting challenges to grapple with at Ogilvy up to my years in creativity and the creative ethos of that place, which was absolutely unbelievable. And in the last six years or so at Brunswick, you know big corporate affairs communications advisory firm really interesting big corporate issues, meaty stuff, working into business leaders, ceos and CFOs. So it's been really interesting over the years. You know, if you think about it, edelman was all about. You know top client was the head of comms, ogilvy. The top client was the head of marketing. Brunswick, the top client was the CEO and the CFO.

Speaker 2:

And thinking about how you engage with them, what they want, what they need, what they want to get out of the engagement. It's been a pleasure absolutely every step of the way.

Speaker 1:

Always learning something. Would you define yourself as a PR man or a marketer?

Speaker 2:

I think I'm probably more PR guy than marketer. I love doing marketing and I love the creative juice in it, but my roots have always been in getting audiences to want to consume things as opposed to forcing them to. But it's funny, I mean, actually when I was doing politics I produced an awful lot of television and radio ads. I wrote a lot of direct mail and did a lot of direct marketing. So I guess I'm sort of bilingual. I can do PR or marketing, pr and marketing, pr and marketing at the same time.

Speaker 4:

I thought you meant you could speak American and British English. Well, I can also speak American and British English. There's a whole vocabulary. After 16 years, do you say sneakers or trainers?

Speaker 2:

Well, now, these days, it's trainers for sure.

Speaker 1:

Oh right, okay, You've crossed over them. Can you do a Cockney accent? No, absolutely not, and no one wants to hear me try.

Speaker 2:

The other one that I will never go to is it'll always be sidewalk and it'll never be pavement.

Speaker 3:

So there's some lines that I can't cross oh motorway, yeah, at the moment.

Speaker 2:

And actually it depends on which country you're in, right? So here it's a motorway In the US, it's an interstate.

Speaker 4:

Subway or underground.

Speaker 2:

Oh, again, depends on the city, right, and if it's Chicago, it's the L.

Speaker 4:

Oh, really, oh, interesting, yeah, so today's show we were talking about what sort of topics to cover and something that we felt would be a good perception on the changing media landscape and what's happened with the media in the UK and further afield. So how do you feel like the media has changed in the last 16 years? Because I've noticed a huge difference from when I started graduated in PR to today. It's night and day, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

It's amazing and I want to be clear when I talk about media, I'm really talking about media in the marketing sense, which is all the various channels that we might use to reach audiences right, and obviously within that you've got newspapers and earned media outlets, and it's all changing. If you look at the newspapers since I got here in 2008, typical newspaper circulation is down something like 75%, depending on which title you pick out.

Speaker 2:

The digital hit rates on all the big newspaper websites since last year are off significantly, about a quarter. Typically, people are moving away from those traditional news sources. By the way, the one exception is BBC.

Speaker 3:

Digital.

Speaker 2:

The TV watching obviously is dropping but the BBC Digital audience kind of has obviously is dropping but the BBC Digital audience kind of has stood up pretty well over the years, which is a real testament to that?

Speaker 4:

Do you think that's because of the impartiality? Allegedly Black Lives Matter?

Speaker 2:

I don't know. I mean, I think it's that people here and I became a British citizen in 2015, so this is as much my home as anywhere. I certainly look at the BBC as an institution and I value the institution. I don't think it's always impartial, necessarily. I think it does its best, but I think it's impossible for anybody, any media outlet, to be 100% impartial on any topic right.

Speaker 4:

Do you have that sort of thing in the US or not? Really.

Speaker 2:

No, I mean there's some media that tries, but you know, by and large, the more traditional media outlets. You know there's some natural bias that creeps in and that's fine, you know. Again, as long as you can account for that bias. The reporting, I think, still tends to really make efforts to be as honest and complete and factual as it possibly can be. So if we start with looking at that and then we say, okay, what about some of the other channels that marketers have relied on over the years, you know, in the last 10, 15 years marketers have come to really rely on things like Google search, right, social media targeting. Why do we love social media targeting? Because you can get to any audience. You can pick out a set of criteria and sort of say, okay, I want to get to that group and you can do it. That's all being disrupted. Now, to what extent is AI going to disrupt Google search? I don't know exactly, but we know it is and if you look at the Google search results, it already is disrupting it.

Speaker 2:

And we're seeing things happen now where SEO firms are beginning to change the way that they deliver. We'll see if that works. But what if the sort of Google as portal to the whole internet begins to erode? What does that mean for marketers? Well, it means that's a less certain place to go looking for audience. Same thing with social Social media. Platforms are now broadly eating themselves.

Speaker 4:

I eat a lot Indeed.

Speaker 2:

Don't even want to talk about what's happened to Twitter. It's actually really sad. It's somebody who got into it when the thing launched. Be that as it may, from a marketing point of view, if you're a serious marketer, you now can't advertise in Twitter at all because it's too bonkers. Facebook's still viable or the meta platforms are still viable really interesting. Instagram's a good spot. Facebook's a pretty good spot. We'll see what happens with WhatsApp, but they're taking away a lot of the targeting criteria that we've been able to use over the years. Linkedin, if you're interested in a professional audience, is really strong. Lots of good targeting criteria available there. But we'll see how long that lasts. And the more content goes into LinkedIn, the more they're going to have to throttle it in the same way that Facebook did 10 or so years ago.

Speaker 2:

So if you're a marketer, the question becomes in this new, evolving media landscape, how do you actually get to your audiences? How do you discern who they are and where they are? How do you get your messages in front of them? If you're like me and you want to earn their attention as opposed to just broadcasting at them, then where do you go to do that? And there's some interesting emerging opportunities. I think I would characterize influencer as still emerging, even though we've been doing it for a while and we can talk about some of the lessons on that a little bit later, if you want. So you know, influencers emerging. There's a few other things that are interesting that we're gonna have to pay attention to, but it's really unclear to me where, if you're a marketer of a big global brand, you can go to go to build audience, and I think that's one of the most interesting challenges for us in the next five years.

Speaker 1:

So from the marketer's perspective? What does this mean? I mean, you know, 20 years ago you could do a primetime TV ad during Coronation Street. You could reach a mass audience. So massive fragmentation, declining readerships what does that mean for the marketer?

Speaker 2:

I mean. The truth is I don't know yet, I think we're still trying to figure it out. I think there's this fascinating debate in the marketing world about, in effect, performance versus brand building, and that's now been going on for a decade, right? Yeah, probably longer. The truth is, you need both. The challenge is how do you invest in both and how do you know how much to invest in both in a world where your effectiveness and outcomes are uncertain?

Speaker 4:

And how do you argue that with the clients? I'm talking agencies right now. Because people out there listening to this. We're programmed to think KPIs results. I do an ad, how many clicks have I got? What was my impressions? And actually brand. We were talking about this just before we came online. But brand campaigns whether it's advertising or PR, brand campaigns protect you against misinformation, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I was part of a project where we did a huge amount of research on this and there were a lot of really interesting learnings that came from that. But one of the most interesting is that even just a basic level of awareness of your brand or company is a massive insulator against misinformation or, if you like, an armor belt against attacks, right?

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So if you want to put some armor on and protect yourself from, frankly, an inevitable problem with misinformation and every brand is going to have a problem with misinformation, by the way, in the next few years one of the best things you can do is actually invest in some brand building so that people know you and have heard of you. And that's the sort of basic level. If you go a step further and get to the point where they actually think warmly about the brand, that's an even exponentially greater protector against misinformation or disinformation.

Speaker 1:

So you said used the word inevitable there, which has probably sent shivers down the spine of some listeners. So are you saying it is inevitable that brands, regardless of who they are, will face some sort of misinformation attack in the future?

Speaker 2:

Without question it's so easy to create misinformation or disinformation content.

Speaker 2:

Now I think if you are in a place as a brand where people know you and you are liked, then there are necessarily Sorry.

Speaker 2:

The other dynamic at work here, of course, is that and especially in the US, but really across the Western world the world is becoming more and more polarized, which means if people are for you, then there's a whole group of people who also sort of necessarily wind up being against you. And in a world where there's a bunch of people against you and it doesn't matter really who you are, somebody is going to do something, either unintended or nefarious, that you're going to have to pay attention to and the consequences of those misinformation, disinformation, either efforts or unintended consequences can be huge. You know I did this is a bit narrow and less about marketing and more about kind of actually operations. Even I did a project for a big bank where, if you look at Silicon Valley Bank, if you look at what happened to one of the Swiss banks last year, actually social media misinformation drove the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and don't take my word for it there's a big Federal Reserve paper and a study from a bunch of really credible economists who say so.

Speaker 4:

Wow.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So in a world where social media can bring down a bank right, we ought not underestimate the level of impact that misinformation can have on a brand that's just trying to market itself.

Speaker 4:

Well, that brought down a bank. But I mean, the same thing could be said for public relations and social media with Northern Rock. Right as soon as somebody started saying, oh, not when the Northern Rock, when the financial crisis happened in the UK, they just said look at the queues outside of people taking their money out. Do you remember that? Yeah, that took the bank down as well.

Speaker 2:

So this is incredibly nerdy actually, but sorry to the audience for being incredibly nerdy. We've actually put a huge amount of economic study into the dynamics of bank runs since the Great Depression in the 30s and people really understand pretty well how they work. So the lines outside a bank is a good example as soon as you see that it's game over right work. So the lines outside a bank is a good example as soon as you see that it's game over. But all those studies basically assume that the bank run is going to play out over a matter of weeks or months.

Speaker 2:

And what happened with Silicon Valley Bank was that the bank went from liquid and thriving to bankrupt in 12 hours. Because you can take money out any time, because actually there were some unusual things about them, but a lot of their depositors had big deposits with them, so it could remove a lot of cash out of the bank very, very quickly. And actually the reason the Federal Reserve report exists in the US is all of that happened out of hours at a period when the Federal Reserve was just closed. Right, it was a weekend, so the SVB sort of goes well. Normally what we would do is we would call up the Federal Reserve Clearinghouse and say we need some help. The Clearinghouse had gone home, so okay.

Speaker 4:

That's a classic crisis management. It never happens between nine and five.

Speaker 1:

The worst possible Monday morning isn't it, of course We've got no job.

Speaker 2:

By the time we get to Monday, the Fed was very much on the case. But bottom line is you think about kind of all the dynamics we've understood about bank runs for the last whatever. It is nearly 100 years Now, applying that through the lens of being driven by digital social media and increasingly things like AI, and what do you get? Well, you get a dynamic where this is actually a really significant threat and, by the way, that's one example from one vertical one kind of business.

Speaker 2:

And you could easily dream those up for pretty much any other kind of business you want Before you go, if you do like brand misinformation.

Speaker 4:

we did a podcast two episodes ago where we interviewed Ant Cousins from Cision, who talked exactly about how to avoid brand misinformation, because, you're right, he was talking extensively about how much of a threat it is. Sorry.

Speaker 1:

Will carry on. So for anyone that doesn't know the details of the misinformation in the context of Silicon Valley Bank, why don't you talk us through what happened?

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean. So, basically, what happened was a load of Silicon Valley bank investors and often these things start with investors started talking about the financial health of the bank. There's some analysts talking about it All this was happening on Twitter, by the way and then some of their big depositors started noticing this conversation and going oh, that's interesting, I'm a bit worried about this. This sounds pretty bad. And then somebody said, well, actually, I'm going to take some money out. And then somebody else said, well, I'm going to take all my money out.

Speaker 2:

And then SVB was a huge depository for a lot of the big Silicon Valley VCs, but particularly personal money, in addition to corporate money, but personal money both. Anyway, this all happened on a sort of Thursday, friday, but then Friday night after you remember, it's a Pacific time in the US After the close of business Eastern time, which is when the Fed clearinghouse closed all these fairly big depositors said we're going to start moving money out. And by the time they got to end of day, saturday, there was a huge amount of liquid pressure on the bank. That's a term of art, that means they're out of cash, basically, and by the time they got to Sunday, they needed a rescue. And then Sunday afternoon the Fed stepped in and, in effect, one guaranteed the deposits and then rescued them and then, early the following week, said we're going to actually stand up for the corporate deposits as well, because it could have taken down half a valley.

Speaker 1:

So what could and should they have done differently then? Because there's some really good parallels here. Yes, we're talking about financial services, but, like you say, this could be an FMCG brand. It could be anything, couldn't it? What should and could they have done?

Speaker 2:

I mean the crucial thing for me. I mean so, those of us who have been in PR for a long time we remember the old school crisis manual. Right, it's a three ring binder. You pulled it down off a shelf. You turned to page seven. You went it's a silver crisis. What do I do now? Now, and that's guidance on how to manage a reputational crisis. The trick with SVB and the challenge in that financial services example is that's not a reputational crisis, that's an existential threat to the business, right, and so one of the first things that you got to think about is a decision, a judgment about is this a reputational crisis? In which case, select door number one and go do all the reputational things that we can talk about but that we kind of broadly know how to do.

Speaker 2:

Or is it? Door number two, which is this could close us down by Monday, or a week from Monday, whatever this could close us down. Okay, that then requires a whole different disposition, posture, and the posture has to not just involve comms In financial services. It's got to involve the people who handle the money right In a brand. It's got to involve the people who handle the money right In a brand. It's got to involve people on the operations side.

Speaker 2:

Probably you know the best example in my mind of a crisis situation of all time that was an existential threat. Probably I don't know if you guys will remember or not this was a big thing in the US. When I was a kid it was the early 80s Somebody was going around injecting Tylenol, which is paracetamol it's the name brand of paracetamol in the US. Somebody was injecting Tylenol bottles with poison, and so you'd buy a bottle of Tylenol at the pharmacy. You'd go home and take a couple of pills and be dead right, and this happened about three or four times. They couldn't work out who was doing it or how.

Speaker 2:

Oh, why, or why they couldn't work out who was doing it, or how, oh why, or why. I can't remember if they ever caught the person who did it or not. It was 40 years ago, so sorry I've lost that detail. But Tylenol did actually, in retrospect, the one and only thing they could do, which was they recalled every single bottle of Tylenol in the world, right, wow. And they junked them and they said we can't trust our own supply. It's too important for us to get this wrong. We're going to pay to recall everything. It's going to take us a few weeks to replace them on your shelves. So you know, hopefully you've got some at home, but if you've got any questions about the bottle, just bring it to a pharmacy and they'll destroy it for you. And Tylenol still 40 years later, is the number one selling painkiller in the US. They saved the brand, but that wasn't a reputational move, that's a. The brand's going to disappear if we don't handle this right, and that's an operational challenge.

Speaker 2:

Bold and ballsy isn't it really, it really was.

Speaker 4:

I mean the thing about it I was going to say, like the bank example is one of the only examples where you could just literally be stripped of everything you've got overnight, and we all know that banks loan more money than they've actually got right. Whereas actually that example you've just used there is where they took the product, because quite a few car brands have had that sort of issue as well. Where they've. We had the Volkswagen emissions crisis, didn't we? Yeah?

Speaker 2:

That's a tougher one, and I don't want to wail away on Volkswagen too much, but that's a tougher one because it turns out that the engineers in Volkswagen were knowingly falsifying the test results. Which is not so. That's a slightly different kettle of fish. Black hat marketing right there. Yeah, I mean, I don't think that's misinformation so much as misbehavior. Yeah, and look, I don't think that's misinformation so much as misbehavior.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and look, I'm not saying that's not existential, but the fact that it's A existential, so door number two, and that you've done it to yourself puts you in a slightly different place in terms of what your posture has to be. Yeah, and you know, all in all, what it's been a few years now. Actually, the Volkswagen brand's come through it pretty well.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, it has Actually the.

Speaker 2:

Volkswagen brand's come through it pretty well? Yeah, it has, and so I think we can say I certainly would say I think they handled it about as well as they could have given the circumstances. You know we could probably debate that for hours, but you know it's a tough one and the point about it's not misinformation You've done it to yourself and so you just kind of have to learn to live with it. I think it's important learning.

Speaker 4:

So what other media then do you think have changed? You talk about changing media landscape. Well, I mean we hit on television.

Speaker 2:

So if you go back to the 80s and you think about channels in the 80s, it's TV, radio, print, right Simple and direct mail, direct marketing of whatever assortment, so okay. So then, 90s, you had web. Late 90s, you had search. Early 2000s, you start adding various forms of social. By the time you get 2010, you've got a really well-developed social ecosystem. Am I leaving anything out channel-wise? No, that's pretty much still is a few other things, but whatever, those are the big ones. Every single one of those is declining. Every single one of those is declining. Every single one of them is declining, apart from YouTube.

Speaker 4:

Well, yeah, that never seems to go down, does it what's?

Speaker 2:

YouTube. Is YouTube the new TV network? You know it's interesting. I was reading something. It was a Ben Evans thing. Actually those of you not reading Ben Evans, he's my favorite go-to tech analyst. You subscribe to his newsletter and know I don't have a sponsorship deal. But, Ben, if you want to call me, please do.

Speaker 1:

We'll get Ben on the pod He'd be great to have.

Speaker 2:

He's a genius actually. Anyway, he was talking about. There was a big announcement this week in the US that a bunch of the live sports networks, in effect, are getting together to provide a unified sports streaming service, and Ben referred to it as a re-bundling of live video services, which is interesting because over the past couple of years, we've seen more and more and more video fragmentation right. Netflix and Dizzy Plus. And. Paramount Plus and blah blah blah right, and so you've got, and now we've all got 15 subscriptions.

Speaker 4:

We've got too many.

Speaker 2:

That I'd hardly watch right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So actually some. So what's happened is they've taken a concept too far.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

They've left the consumer behind, and so now they're doing something smart.

Speaker 4:

They're coming back to the consumer and saying we're going to try to make this easier for you. This is the.

Speaker 2:

Gartner hype cycle in about that. But that's absolutely right. Yeah, that's absolutely right. Anyway, I mention that because it's like okay, to your point about YouTube is YouTube in the way that Google was the portal to the internet? Is YouTube the portal to all things video and audio, I think it still is, I don't know.

Speaker 4:

I think it is, I think it still is. Yeah, it feels that way. To me, youtube is a unique channel because is it social? Is it, is it web, is it both?

Speaker 2:

and and it's still got organic, organic reach exists on youtube, like it does on tiktok and discovery. I mean, that's the thing you know. I remember the old days of the web. Um, you know, or you know, there's this wonderful book called the cloutre mess festo, which talked about hyperlinks. Is currency. You know that we could cite to each other and pass traffic by. How? How much does that happen anymore? Hardly any right. But where do you get discovery? Where do people explore? Well, they explore thanks to algorithmic discovery right.

Speaker 2:

So you know, I've got a friend who works for YouTube and I had never used YouTube Shorts before and I was talking to him he said you should try Shorts and now I'm freaking addicted to it. I can't get away from it.

Speaker 1:

And it's serving you. Bespoke content yeah totally.

Speaker 2:

It's good. It really is. It's crazy. I get what I want from it.

Speaker 4:

So the clips from this show. There'll be a clip from this show, right and we clip. We maybe do two on YouTube shorts and like a while ago, so three months ago, we were getting like 300, 400 views. Two weeks ago they went to like $2,700.

Speaker 2:

And they'll continue to grow.

Speaker 4:

I mean that's.

Speaker 2:

I have to say, one of the things I think I really admire about the way that YouTube has kind of calibrated their platform is they reward people who invest in publishing consistently. Yeah, you know we can debate whether or not that's important, but I think it's interesting. I have a confession. I have an ironic confession, given what we're doing right now. I'm not actually a massive podcast listener, okay, but I do actually watch podcasts. I have about a half dozen that I watch on YouTube. So there's a golf podcast that I watch religiously. I've never downloaded it and listened to the podcast but I watch it on YouTube all the time.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's interesting. I mean, we talk a lot about the evolution of B2B podcasting and obviously the old model is audio only sit down for an hour. No this is much better, but we're now getting towards this integrated model where you might watch a podcast or you might just watch the snippets, but essentially it's still podcasting, it's just a different medium 100% and the other thing I like about it.

Speaker 2:

So I spent a lot of time over the past few years kind of talking to business leaders about their own profiles, and there's some business leaders for whom actually this sort of environment is perfect. Right, I'm not sitting in. It's not a hostile interview. Yes, it's not a well we'll see how we go.

Speaker 4:

We haven't got to part two yet.

Speaker 2:

It's not a formal setting with a journalist. Actually, you know, if I'm a business leader, I might even sit with a colleague and say you know, hey, you're the world-leading expert on whatever lithium mining, just to make something up. Let's talk about the future of lithium, right.

Speaker 2:

Okay and all that business leader's got to do is sit around a table. Yeah, there's a microphone, might be some cans, there might be a camera, but all you got to do is sit around a table and have a conversation and we'll take care of the rest. In a lot of ways, it's the perfect solution, in my mind, for a business leader who needs some profile and we know there's value in the business leader having some profile but just isn't comfortable with a lot of the more traditional methods.

Speaker 1:

Well, on that, actually, I think that's worth digging into. So 20 years ago, you want to do some executive profiling? It's very much. You know. Sit down with the FT, sit down with the Sunday Times, there'd be those big ticket speaking engagements. That's all starting to change, isn't it? And now we do see business leaders becoming much more influential on social media. Is that from your?

Speaker 2:

experience. You have to right, I mean. So we all know I mean. And actually if we took a poll of the three people in this room, I have no doubt we'd get 100% result. Would you rather read something that's written, posted, created by a human being or a corporate? We?

Speaker 1:

all know the answer to that.

Speaker 2:

You'd much rather hear from the human being, right? Yeah, so would I rather kind of subscribe to, listen, to, sign up to and I'm going to pick somebody random the CEO of Unilever versus the Unilever corporate LinkedIn channel. Well, that's a really. And I'm not having a go at the Unilever corporate LinkedIn channel. It's great, but I'd just much rather listen to a human being than the corporate channel, right? So I think where that gets us to is to say not only is it in the interest of most CEOs to have a useful, a valuable profile, they're also communications channels. And it's really funny when you say that to a CEO, they slightly recoil in terror. Communications channels. And it's really funny when you say that to a CEO, they slightly recoil in terror. It's like no, no, really, you're a communications channel and you need to appreciate that as part of your leadership responsibilities, that you're an important voice for the company and we need to make sure that we use that voice, that channel, really well.

Speaker 2:

So, that's to me a really strong argument for why and how you then get into building. And it's not just CEO, by the way, it's leadership profile. It's down the second tier, and we've got lots of marketers, cmos in a marketing community talking about creativity and why they're investing in the way they are and how they're developing their marketing strategies and so forth. Those are incredibly valuable, incredibly influential voices and the the same applies to them they're an important channel and we need and can be an important channel to help with the marketing, I agree.

Speaker 1:

So we need to use them well yeah, and I think that the two coexisting, you've got your very optimized brand presence. But then you've got that kind of mid-tier and above of executives who are, who are who are kind of becoming thought leaders online. Funny on this, chris do you remember a few years ago when we used to talk to brands about building the profile of individuals in the business? The conversation usually was great, but what happens if they leave? And that's starting to stop that? You know the the. You know the conversation is okay, they might leave, but what happens if it works? You know what?

Speaker 4:

happens, yeah, but I've seen some agencies do that where they've, but they've hired like there's been certain agencies that we've seen, like search agencies who've got big budgets right, which has been against the prs uh, pr agencies and there's an argument there for another day. But I've seen some of those big guys hire like head of social, and then they they go into this whole thing where they're building their profile, they're vlogging, they're, they're doing all this thing about their own career, and then they go into this whole thing where they're building their profile, they're vlogging, they're doing all this thing about their own career, and then, yeah, they're only there for a year and then they go somewhere else.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and take the audience with them Exactly that.

Speaker 1:

The flip side is, you know, but what about the benefit while they are there? And I suppose it's collateral damage, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean. My view on that is you get down the third sort, third-tier leadership, so outside of the C-suite. The question is, can you find the right sort of subject matter expert to really excite an audience? A hundred years ago we were doing some work for a car company and this was pre-social media. There was a big discussion happening about a new model in a very kind of obscure car forum and they were getting some stuff wrong. So we actually convinced the car company to let the engineer who designed the car go in the car forum. The community went bonkers. They all knew who he was. They all loved him. He'd been designing cars for this company for years. It was like he spent maybe two weeks in there and turned that community from being really skeptical about the new model to being absolute zealous advocates for the new model.

Speaker 2:

Now, okay, turn on a dime, doesn't happen very often, usual caveat supply. But the fact of the matter was it was because he was the subject matter expert, as opposed to some executive or, worse yet, a PR person. Yeah, Hi I'm Marshall from fill fill in name of car company here. I'm a PR advisor to them. Can I speak to you please? Well, of course the answer is no, but you turn up with the engineer who designed the thing and the car nuts go crazy. Of course they do.

Speaker 4:

It's all about the authenticity there, isn't it 100%.

Speaker 2:

And having the shared base of knowledge. Yeah, you base of knowledge.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You'll know all about this. We're reading the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, and trust in the media is down, trust in chief executives is down, trust in corporations is down, but trust in regular employees is up. So those brands that get it right and build up their subject matter experts are on to a winning thing, aren't they?

Speaker 2:

It's funny I was with Edel. We put person like me in the survey and then we put regular employee in the survey about two years later, and so that was maybe I don't know, 13, 14 years ago and the first year we did it. We were all shocked. We thought it would score well, but person like me scored as the number one most trusted source of information. And then we thought about that for a minute and went well, that was dumb of us not to understand that before we put it in the survey.

Speaker 2:

And then the same thing happened with regular employee and it sort of stayed right up there among the most trusted. You know the reality is and it's not hard to understand. You know, if you take this out of the hypothetical, theoretical comms world and just put it in your daily life, of course you're going to trust somebody you know more than somebody you don't know. You know, of course you're going to trust somebody you think you can empathize with, as opposed to somebody you can't. This isn't hard to understand.

Speaker 4:

So we need to make more of those sorts of people, those sorts of voices available, but the media and the journalists the trust in them is down. So that's what's worrying. This goes back to your very first question how do you get your message across to your audience? Where is your audience? You've got your brand discovery on the channels we've discussed, but how do you get to that audience with the trust?

Speaker 2:

You just have to be. I think increasingly we have to figure out ways to be in more places and the thing that frustrates clients I think rightly is that it's complicated. You know, if you want to have a bunch of different audiences and a bunch of different messages for those audiences, distributed on a whole bunch of different platforms, the complexity of actually delivering that marketing or communications program grows exponentially every time you add a new audience, a new platform or a new bit of content right.

Speaker 2:

So it's really hard to wrap your head around it and there are a lot of marketing and comms, people who were brought up on the idea and I was one of them actually brought up on the idea that you have one message, you repeat it until you can't stand repeating it anymore and then maybe you move on to the next one, but probably not, Actually. And then maybe you move on to the next one, but probably not. We're going to build a wall. Yeah, well, exactly, but I think where I am, I think we haven't moved as far from that as some people think. Fundamentally, it is still about having a message, but it's about delivering that message in different flavors for different audiences, on different platforms or in different channels in a way that that audience that you're trying to get to will respond to most favorably.

Speaker 4:

Not like when Teresa kept saying strong and stable God, if they said it another time.

Speaker 1:

At Prohibition. I mean, it's an interesting theory. By the way, it sounds like a lot more work for marketers in the way that you used to be able to. Is that fair?

Speaker 2:

I'm not sure. So this is one of the bits and, you know, I'm sure there are people who are listening to this who will email me or message me and tell me how wrong I am, which is absolutely fine, by the way but I really think that this is a problem AI is going to help us solve, you know, or that smarter kind of campaign management tools is going to help us solve. If you think about right now, one of the massive inefficiencies in any big marketing program is audience customization, platform customization, localization right. So we're supposed to publish videos in different sizes to YouTube and LinkedIn, just to pick a silly example? Right? So we're supposed to publish videos in different sizes to YouTube and LinkedIn, just to pick a silly example? Right To pick a different silly example, except?

Speaker 2:

it's not silly at all is, if you're running a multi-market campaign in Europe, you've got to get a language right. Right, and right now that's incredibly inefficient. That's bound to change, right? We're bound to get to a place where actually AI is going to solve this problem for us and all the problems of localization maybe not all, 89% of the problems of localization will kind of go away. Same with um platform customization right? All I need to produce a video. All I need to do is produce a video, hand it to a tool and say, right, optimize this for every platform and it renders for and we have it five minutes later.

Speaker 2:

That's where we're going to be, so in that case, maybe it's not that much more complicated. Maybe we just need to wait and understand how we can use the tools to make those things more achievable.

Speaker 1:

And the other observation, which is something we talk about a lot I think brands need to become more comfortable with the fact that their kind of precious idea may evolve as it moves from platform and channel to channel, and I think so. We talk about the idea of channel neutral ideas, which almost is an idea that sits above platform and it evolves and changes and has a life of its own. Is that fair? I?

Speaker 2:

think that's the ideal. I think we may need to begin to allow for the possibility that we're going to have to invite a bit more variance at the channel level. So the way that you communicate an idea on TikTok probably isn't the same way that you would do it in an email, for example. In an email, for example, which, oh, by the way, we haven't talked about at all, but is probably still the most important channel that our clients have access to to reach their customers directly. Anyway, we'll come back to that if you want, but no, the bottom line for me is we've got to allow for the possibility of a little bit more variance and customization, not to say we depart from the central idea, because the central idea is still the central idea, but actually we allow for different expressions of that idea that work at the channel level, because increasingly, the audiences and the channels are different.

Speaker 2:

You know, a minute ago you sort of went okay, well, facebook's kind of everybody, instagram's getting to be everybody, twitter's this sort of elite, whatever. Eco-chamber, snapchat's, young people Okay, well, now you get a situation where TikTok is increasingly, yeah, it's where you go to get the young people, especially outside of the English-speaking world. Snap is still thriving. Youtube Shorts is a fundamentally different user base than main YouTube. Reels is a different user base than main Instagram. You know Facebook's still trying to put some oomph into the main Facebook app. Different behaviors, different ways and different parts of that. So all of a sudden you've got three different executions in the same platform, right.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, we need to allow for a little bit more variance.

Speaker 1:

And that requires bravery on the part of the brand, doesn't it? You know, keeping control of your message is a thing of the past, surely?

Speaker 2:

Well, I've been singing that tune for a long time and I know it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. At the end of the day, it's your message. So I'm not saying that you're going to lose control of your message. You're going to produce what you're going to produce. But I think what I'm saying is if you were having a bunch of people over to your house and two of them turned up and said hey, listen, I'm a vegetarian.

Speaker 2:

If you're a good host, you're going to make them a really nice vegetarian dish right, and the other six people who've come to dinner are going to have whatever you've made for them? I don't think, but that doesn't change the fact that you've invited everybody for dinner. I think the thought here, for me, is brands need that central idea. What is the brand, what does it stand for, what's its value, what's the creative idea that brings all of that to life? And then, if they're vegetarians, feed them vegetarian. If they really like a big steak, feed them a big steak. That's not getting away from the core idea, though. So, yes, it's your message, it's your idea, but let people eat what they want to eat.

Speaker 4:

I'll tell you what this is making me hungry, if anything else Sorry. It's all right.

Speaker 4:

So this show is all about fuck-ups, then We've heard a lot about your experience, but obviously in your experience I'm sure you don't make many, but you did share one um fuck up with us which was which was from way back in 2006, called walmarting across america yeah before you start this, uh, um, we've got a pr apprentice at probation and he sent me a message because he's seen your, he's seen this guest sheet because I was discussing it with him and he did the PRCA PR apprenticeship and he thinks that this was part of the program.

Speaker 2:

Part of the curriculum Amazing. So I can't wait to hear about what happened. So look, this is a good story and I thought I'd just do a tiny bit of context. I thought I would talk about it because, even though it's from 20 years ago now, there are some lessons that we can apply to particularly modern kind of influencer marketing, some real watchouts to learn from. So I hope audience will enjoy it. But this was quite famous. It was kind of everywhere for a while back in whatever it was 2006.

Speaker 4:

So Walmart owns Asda, doesn't it?

Speaker 2:

because the guys who own the gas stations right here in. Leeds doesn't know who owns ASDA literally direct as the house, literally. I'm looking out the window and as they'll start throwing cabbages at me and stuff.

Speaker 1:

I'll let it that bit out, don't worry uh, so yeah.

Speaker 2:

So walmart big retailer I'm sure most people have heard of it at least big retailer all over the us, um, and we were doing some work with them. They were dealing with some, with some really tough reputational challenges, some political, some more driven by marketing but basically they were the biggest and therefore they were under attack. Some of that was related to union politics, some of it related to big national politics. All of that doesn't really matter all that much. Suffice to say, they were under attack and the people who were attacking them were organized and well-funded, and so we were trying to just build a case that look, think what you will of Walmart, but this is an American company. It's a good company, full of good people that plays a really important role in cities and towns all over the US as part of a much, much larger communication strategy. A few of us were sitting around one day and kind of thinking about a few little tactical execution ideas. And here's so.

Speaker 2:

In the UK we've got caravans. In the US we've got RVs okay, and if you don't know what an RV is, just check out.

Speaker 2:

Breaking Bad, well why, Well, indeed, so Walter likes to make his product in the back of an RV is just check out, Breaking Bad. Well, why, Indeed so Walter likes to make his product in the back of an RV, as?

Speaker 3:

we would call it if you're in America. Good quality product.

Speaker 2:

Indeed. So RVing is a bit of a culture in the US, the way caravanning is here in the UK, and we discovered, sort of by accident, that Walmart had this amazing rule, and I actually don't know if this is still the case or not. So don't go doing this without checking it out first. Walmart basically said if you're driving around in your RV and you need to stop someplace for the night, you're very welcome to park in any of our parking lots. So you could do an overnighter in a Walmart store parking lot. Pay nothing, no problem.

Speaker 2:

You know, they say go out in the kind of far reaches of the parking lot, don't park right in front of the store but whatever, and actually it's a great thing because, if you know, in the US distances are long, you might be driving a few days to get from one place to another. Having a place you can park and sleep in your RV, get a little rest in, it's fantastic. We love this idea. And you think about the kind of portrait we were trying to paint of Walmart as a great American company, you know, facilitating trips in RVs for folks who you know just going out and enjoying the American countryside. You know what could be more red, white and blue than that yeah, families.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely fantastic, right. So the idea was we were going to get some folks to go on an RV trip. All right, we thought we'd get them an RV, we thought we'd outfit it, you know, kind of with some Walmart branding, and what we thought we'd do is we'd send them on a road trip and get them to stop along the way and write a blog. Now, this was before Facebook and Twitter existed, so no social media, pure blogging, right was before Facebook and Twitter existed. So no social media, pure blogging, right. So we thought we'd get them to kind of go out, write this blog and kind of basically a travel diary. So we liked the idea, we pitched it to the client, they liked the idea, and so we went off to recruit the folks who were going to do the trip and write the blog. We have to be good writers, right? Well, yeah, so actually we thought it would be clever if we could find a pair, actually somebody who could do the writing, and then, ideally, if somebody was along to kind of take some photos.

Speaker 2:

Youtube had only just started, so maybe a little video, but uploading from 3G, from the road, probably not going to work. So, you know, some photos would be nice. So we were kind of thinking if we could find a writer, photographer or pair, that'd be really neat. And, as it happened, one of the folks on our team knew someone Great Freelance writer. Husband was a professional photographer. This sounds perfect. So we asked them if they want to do it. Got to pay them some money, fine. So we get them to come in and I'm going to teach them about how the blog works, which platform typepad it was TrueType actually back in the day.

Speaker 2:

I misspoke, it was typepad.

Speaker 4:

I was thinking when you were saying it was back in the days of blogging, because it was typepad and wordpress. Why?

Speaker 2:

don't you ask me that again and I'll just agree. I actually have to say our designer, who was a genius and I've actually lost touch with, but we thought it would be really fun to overbuild the thing. So we actually did three themes. So there was an Indiana Jones theme, there was like an Airstream 1950s theme and there was a third theme I can't remember what it was and they were all beautiful and you could sort of toggle between them, get different views, different scents. There was a big map that was going to be filled in along the way. It was really we had a ball with it.

Speaker 2:

The development of it was as much fun as I've had doing any of this. So anyway, so the two of them, our writer and photographer come in to see me to get their blogger training. So that involves a bunch of stuff. I'm going to teach them what blogging is, because they didn't really know. I'm going to teach them how to use the platform, and then we'd done a lot of blogger training at that point. I was going to give them some just best practices in terms of blogging ethics. That was kind of the curriculum and I had a half a day with them. So our designer developer walks in with the laptop, with the site on it, and says right, we've set everything up for you. Writer, here's your account with your name on it. Obviously, all your stuff will be bylined. Photographer here's your account. Anything you publish, it's going to say, as all the blogs did at that time posted by marshall, posted by chris, whatever. Um, flicker at your deed, yeah, and we had a flicker feed for him actually it's a good shout.

Speaker 3:

We did have that um, so anyway.

Speaker 2:

So so that was the moment where it all went off the rails, because they looked at me and said oh no, we don't want our names on the site. I said sorry what they said. We're going to do this anonymously. We don't want to have our names on the site. I said well, that's a bit weird. I'm going to have to think about that. You know, I think we probably need your names on the site. So, whatever, we finish the training, I go away and I start talking to our bosses and people around the building, whatever team you know they don't want their name on the site. This feels like it's a problem, not sure. Anyway, we had some discussion about it. Ultimately, we decided that it was okay, we'd let the thing go ahead.

Speaker 4:

Anonymously.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, if they wanted to blog anonymously, that was okay. We just have it.

Speaker 4:

Did you not think about maybe going to somebody else, because you could have replaced them with whoever?

Speaker 2:

Well, so this is a classic PR stroke marketing campaign problem. Right, I'm training them on Thursday, they're leaving on Monday, right, last minute? Yeah Well, I mean, it didn't need to be any more or less last minute. Right, it was the right time to do the training. The site was built, they were going on the trip.

Speaker 2:

So would we have done that three weeks earlier? I can't imagine a scenario where I'd done the training three weeks earlier. Why did they want to be anonymous? I mean, I don't know. So I want to give them some benefit of the doubt here, particularly because it was 20 years ago and I've had no contact with them since. But my recollection is that they were both, in effect, freelance journalists and I think they were concerned that if their byline was on something that was fundamentally a corporate project, they might struggle in the future to get other freelance journalism gigs.

Speaker 2:

Got you, got you. I want to be clear. That's an assumption on my part. I don't mean to impugn their motives. I have no idea. That's the best of my recollection. So we took their name off the site and we let them fly off to. I think they started in New Mexico. We let them fly off to New Mexico to start the trip and everything was fine. So they got to New Mexico, picked up the RV. It looked amazing. They started the trip, went from one Walmart to another and the idea was that they were going to interview other RVers that they encountered in Walmart parking lots. Kind of talk about the culture of that.

Speaker 3:

And so forth, and.

Speaker 2:

I have to say they got some credit. They got some great stuff. Some of the stuff they were writing was just absolutely lovely. You know some really nice things about importance of Walmart and communities and so forth and so on, of Walmart and communities and so forth and so on. And then they kind of later in the trip we had arranged for a journalist who covered the company to come down and just bump into this and interview them. And the journalist did come down.

Speaker 2:

In retrospect we didn't pick that journalist very well, but be that as it may, that journalist came down to meet up with them in a Walmart parking lot, did a lovely interview where these two said all the right things, everything that you'd hope for as a PR person for the company, and she wrote up this really lovely sort of 400-word story. But the last line of the story was, by the way, these two advocates for the company refused to give their names. They wouldn't give their names to the journalist. In addition to not having their names on the site, and let me guess this spiraled quickly and this opens a whole can of worms about all sorts of issues.

Speaker 1:

Why, why, why?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So now we go from having something that, if done right, is a really lovely kind of not very expensive nod to a community of people in the US who the company values, who values the company and a potential reputational positive beyond that audience. Now you're into, hang on a minute. This now feels really dodgy. Is this contrived? Why is the company doing this? Have they just made the whole thing up? What's the motive? And you start digging into motivations and whatever. And so the first couple of days after that initial story hit were pretty awful because there was a lot of interest in the company at the time. We were on the front page of the New York Times, we were on the front page of the Washington Post and what were the headlines? I don't really remember.

Speaker 1:

I've kind of blotted all that out of my mind. They were every bit as bad as you would expect.

Speaker 2:

But actually it was the PR and marketing trades that really hit the hardest, because the mainstream media was basically taking the angle of you know this a bit uncool, you know controversy, whatever the trades were really, really dissecting it and hitting us for all the right. I mean to be clear, all the criticism we took was justified, but they were hitting us on the really nitty, gritty, granular stuff that I had been sitting in meeting rooms talking about four days earlier and getting wrong.

Speaker 2:

So you know they got us. And I think the other big thing was this was Edelman in 2006. Richard and all of us in the company had staked out a big positioning on we're going to lead the way in digital and we'd done some really good work. I've got some clips, actually some from Walmart at home on my wall that I'm genuinely proud of Some of the stuff we were doing with bloggers, some of the stuff we were doing with bloggers, some of the stuff we were doing with content, like we were there before anybody?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, you were. I was reading your stuff when you were doing that.

Speaker 2:

It was great, some of it was genuinely great, but we got this wrong, so anyway. So the first few days were pretty crap and I was essentially in UK PR speak. I was a senior account manager at the time. In the US I was a senior account supervisor I don't know why the difference. So I was at best a sort of mid-level person in what was then a 3,000-person agency working for one of the world's biggest companies. It would have been really easy to pitch me overboard, right. And I remember the guy running the account came around to my desk in the middle of this and said hey, listen, richard's coming down tomorrow. He wants to see you.

Speaker 4:

Oh, my God.

Speaker 2:

Lovely Great. Hello, mr Adelman. And so Richard came down, who I maybe talked to, but I certainly didn't know Anyway. So I wound up sitting in the head of the DC office's office with Richard Shaking Pretty much yeah, and really thinking I was going to get fired In retrospect. Actually, in retrospect, 20 years on I realized I never should have thought that, because if they were going to fire me, they just had an HR person do it right, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Anyway, be that as it may, so I'm sitting there with Richard and he said right, let's talk about what happened. We went through it all. I talked about some of the points where we made the wrong call and I said, richard, the moment I should have pulled the plug on this was when the two of them told me they didn't want their name on the site. That was the point where we should have known this wasn't going to work. Of course, the challenge was what. We built the site, we'd outfitted the RV, which was not a small amount of money, and we made all this planning right. So the sort of gravitational force of getting the campaign away was really, really strong.

Speaker 1:

We've all been there. Significant sunk costs.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you've spent a ton of cash. You want this thing to go. If you've got to call a client and say we're calling it off, that's a terrible call to have to make. Anyway, we had this conversation. At the end of it, richard said to me listen, we're doing stuff here that nobody's done before. Nobody knows what the rules are. We're working out the rules as we go. We have to trust ourselves to practice ethically at the highest level of ethics that we can imagine. We didn't get it right here. No, we didn't, he said. But actually we'll learn a lot of good lessons from this and I want you and the team to go on and keep pushing boundaries and whatever else happens in my professional career, I will never not be an advocate of Richard Edelman on the basis of that conversation, because it would have been really easy to throw me overboard and say some mid-level guy in Washington did a bad job on this.

Speaker 2:

It's his fault, he's taking responsibility and he's no longer with the company. Yeah Right.

Speaker 2:

How many times have we seen that statement and Richard says no, no, there's a new thing. We don't know what we're doing, none of us knows what we're doing and you guys are coming the closest to getting it right. Keep going. That's proper leadership in the company. Six more years after that, you know, and they moved me to london and the reason I'm here and I've had the life I've had is that is that richard and his team showed an awful lot of confidence in me personally following that incident, which was a big reputational black eye for edelman um with a big client as well yeah, to the point that I mean.

Speaker 2:

We're 18 years later and it's still being used in uh, in, in pr student curricula.

Speaker 4:

But people are people out there listening to that think thank God, that wasn't me.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's a great story and, like Chris says, what a visionary he could see the direction of travel.

Speaker 2:

And he knew, in order to get it right, we were going to have to get it wrong.

Speaker 1:

It's that move fast, break things. Mentality.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So I've kind of gotten allergic to move fast, break things. So I'm sorry I'm having a quibble here, but there is a constructive outcome to this, I promise. Break things implies that you're sort of damaging in a way that is irreparable. So I've got a twist on that.

Speaker 2:

My twist on that is I'd rather be fast and wrong than slow and right, fast and wrong than slow and right. And the idea behind that is and if I'd applied it in this situation, the fast and wrong would have been make the decision to go ahead but then unmake it six hours later, right To say, okay, I made this decision, but actually we need to review it because I don't think it's right right. So fast and wrong as opposed to slow and right, because slow and right doesn't get you anywhere, it just gets you behind. Fast and wrong gets you the opportunity to go. We're going to do something. If we get it wrong, we're going to learn from it. Then we're going to do it differently and better, and we're going to do all of that fast. But the time slow and right has had one iteration. We're going to have seven, which means we're going to be six generations ahead of slow and right.

Speaker 1:

I'll take that, 100% of that. I feel like that could be the headline of our podcast. Fast and wrong. Fast and very wrong yeah, brilliant.

Speaker 4:

So thanks for coming on the show, Marshall. Honestly, I could talk to you for another three hours. That's the thing. Where can people find you if they want to get in contact with you?

Speaker 2:

So the best place is probably LinkedIn. These days, I've sadly had to give up Twitter, which fills me with sadness, but I've given it up, so LinkedIn is probably the best place. Facebook, Instagram, threads, all of those but yeah, LinkedIn, drop me a message if you want to chat and we'll find a time and you've been on the show.

Speaker 4:

Now you can see the premise of the show.

Speaker 2:

It's great, by the way.

Speaker 4:

Right, thank you. If you were us, who is the next guest that you'd invite and what would you ask them?

Speaker 2:

You're going to have to cut out me thinking about this. I'll add some sound effects as you're thinking A few minutes later. I mean, look, if you want somebody aspirational you've got to ask Byron Sharp. Right, Byron Sharp, Byron Byron.

Speaker 3:

Sharp.

Speaker 2:

B-Y-R-O-N. I think you don't get many Byrons these days, god, somebody check my spelling he's a marketing commentator who wrote the definitive book on the issue of performance marketing versus brand building.

Speaker 4:

Right, okay.

Speaker 2:

He's written an amazing book about that topic and he has just unbelievable thoughts on the question of channels.

Speaker 3:

Listen, I really have enjoyed it guys.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much for having me along. It's been nice to sit around and talk.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, thanks for coming on. Thanks, Marshall.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for listening to Socially Inacceptable. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a five-star review. Don't forget to follow us on social media on instagram, tiktok and linkedin at prohibition pr and twitter at socially ua. We would love to hear some of your career fuck-ups. We can share them on the show. For more information on the show, search prohibition pr in your search engine and click on podcasts. Until next time, please keep pushing the boundaries and embracing the socially unacceptable.

Navigating the Changing Media Landscape
Changes in Media and Marketing Landscape
Media Landscape and Crisis Management
Leveraging Leadership as Communication Channels
Brands and Audience Customization in Marketing
Marshall's F*ck Up - Walmarting Across America
Learning From Mistakes, Pushing Boundaries