The paint brand we all know in India, Dulux, has launched a global campaign across Brazil, France, UK and India, called ‘Let’s Colour Project‘.
It’s an interesting project and is pretty apt for a paint brand. The official website says, “The Let’s Colour Project is a worldwide initiative to transform grey spaces with colourful paint. In the coming months, we will work together with local communities all over the world, rolling up our sleeves to paint streets, houses, schools and squares. It’s the beginning of a colour movement everyone can join in. Sign up now to follow the journey and find out how you can be a part of it.”
Fantastic, brand-specific initiative and beautifully handled – no doubt.
But, I still have a doubt.
The social media aspect of the project incorporates all the usual suspects – a website, a blog, pages on Twitter, Facebook and Orkut (India and Brazil – no wonder!).
It really doesn’t matter who is handling the Twitter and Facebook profiles, as long as the content and context is appropriate, and people are happy engaging with the group owners and other like-minded people.
But the blog?
The blog lists 13 people as official bloggers. Take a look at them here!
Most of the posts in the blog have been posted by one single lady – Rebecca Campbell. There are a handful of blogs posted under the name, ‘letscolourproject’, but these are far and few. Rebecca rules the show.
As you go through the posts, you see Rebecca’s name all over the blog – there are tons and tons of relevant and beautiful, photo and video-loaded posts. Eventually, you are completely enamored by this Rebecca lady – you now want to know who this lady is! Who do you think she is? Or who do you ideally think she should be? An AkzoNobel employee? I would assume so.
Her official designation in the bloggers list is, ‘Blogger/Copywriter’ and there is an Australian flag on her display pic. Does AkzoNobel employ copywriters from Australia? Unlikely.
Her officially-listed twitter ID reveals that she’s not an influencer – not many tweets before the project started and post that, exclusive posts only on the project. So, that is not why she has been hired to blog here. So, who is she and why is she blogging on behalf of AkzoNobel?
Turns out – after a fairly detailed search – that she has nothing to do with AkzoNobel. Her LinkedIn page says she is ‘Senior Middle Weight Creative at Freelance Creative’. Her pages linked via that profile also show that she had globe trotted earlier under a project called ‘Nomad‘, that has something HUGELY to do with Skype. So, is Rebecca an employee at Skype?
Nope. But, Albion, an ‘integrated advertising agency with digital at our (sic) heart’ also talks about her.
So, who is Rebecca and why is she traveling and blogging about AkzoNobel’s latest project?
In other words, should there be a connection? And, should AkzoNobel reveal the connection and the gratification Rebecca may or may not be getting to do things on their behalf?
The project claims that it uses locals and employees to paint – many photos stand testimony to that fact and it seems Rebecca is merely cataloging them online – very skilfully, at that. But, is it reasonable to expect AkzoNobel to be a bit more direct on who this person is, who is named all over their blog, so visibly?
I would think so, but considering the material created is so relevant and beautiful, many people may just look at the end result and not be particularly bothered about Rebecca’s identity or her gratification.
But the question again – is a disclosure necessary?
The reason I’m asking has another angle. Take a look at the other people listed as bloggers – most of whom do not seem to have blogged anything specifically. Almost all of them are employed by Euro RSCG, the advertising agency or have connections with other creative agencies like UK-based Mother.
Now…would you like a relook at my question?
Is a disclosure necessary?
No, sorry – I’m not implying anything against Euro RSCG – I’m sure they know what they are doing and they are vastly experienced, globally, on digital work.
But, they are an advertising agency.
Do they handle AkzoNobel’s account? Possibly.
Should AkzoNobel and Euro RSCG have ensured that the ‘bloggers’ listed under a client project are in fact from the brand’s advertising agency and have nothing else to do with the initiative? Possibly.
Is it quite like a PR agency employee going online with pro-client comments without bothering to change his name (quite strangely!)? Possibly.
Does the fact that the names listed as bloggers are all so easily searcheable online, have not been camouflaged/hidden and the Euro RSCG connection is so apparent…work in place of the part that there is no explicit disclosure? Possibly.
Let us take a step back here.
The online effort is aimed at spreading the word fast and wide using social media tools. So, the first objective is to build properties/communities and promote them as much as possible so that people come to know about the existence of those properites and, as a result, generate awareness for the on-ground initiative. The bloggers listed are not social media influencers – at least they don’t seem to be, at the outset. They are agency employees, who perhaps have been paid to blog and tweet.
PR agencies get paid to do that too, but the effort is to project the client in the front – the client is blogging…the client is tweeting…the client is getting the benefit of that outreach…communication. Let us please not get into a debate on ghost blogging here – that is an entirely different topic altogether – the point I’m making here is that communication firms do all this to put their clients into the fore and client brands need to benefit from all this effort.
So…simple, final question: why are agency folks getting the credit? Is AkzoNobel merely a notional sponsor to this project, largely owned and carried out by Euro RSCG, the advertising agency? Doesn’t seem to be the case, if you go by how proud AkzoNobel is, with the initiative and does not mention Euro RSCG anywhere.
The intention of this post is not to antagonize a global ad agency behemoth. Social media is still evolving and what is even more interesting is how clients can work with agencies and influencers, with or without disclosure where appropriate, to gain in the process of having conversations with end consumers.
To me, an agency is meant to be standing behind a client as far as public interaction goes, except when dealing with intermediaries like media/journalists, which require a specific skill in handling and is usually (by and large) not worth scaling internally, from a client side.
This effort by AkzoNobel and Euro RSCG seems like a different model – would love to know the thought that went behind naming agency folks, quite blatantly, right in the client blog.
Other minor irritants that sure need a change!
- There are no Indian bloggers listed, even though the text on the Bloggers list page says, “There are many people who will be contributing to the Letâ??s Colour blog. While most of us are based in London we are a multinational team hailing from countries such as Brazil, France, India, Sweden, the UK and Australia.” But sorry – no Indian bloggers.
- The Indian Orkut page doesn’t exist or is not linked correctly. Orkut throws its standard error text, “We’re sorry, but there is no orkut.com Web page matching your entry. It is possible that you typed the address incorrectly, or that the page no longer exists”. The Brazilian Orkut page works, however.
- One of the blog posts on the Indian flag is titled, ‘Trianga‘. The blogger doesn’t seem to be aware of the blunder because it is called Trianga all across the post. There’s a link to wikipedia about the Indian flag too and even there, there is the right word, ‘Tiranga’ – but not much care has been taken in the blog to spell it right. The fact that such a blunder has not evoked even a single comment so far (since the post went online, on April 2) perhaps shows that there are not many Indian readers for the blog…and as an extension, to the initiative, in the subcontinent.