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‘.

letscolourIt’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!

letscolour-bloggersMost 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
What does Dulux get out of the Lets Colour Project?

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. Here’s where I 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 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! http://www.letscolourproject.com/blog/bloggers/

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 – 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?

Unlikely.

Her 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 – a fairly detailed search reveals – 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? http://share.skype.com/sites/uk/2008/11/skype_nomad_wins_interactive_m.html

Nope. Albion, the ‘integrated advertising agency with digital at our (sic) heart’ also talks about her. http://www.albionlondon.com/work/skype-nomad/

So, who is Rebecca and why is she travelling 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 in this case?

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 of interest.

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 earlier 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 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 fr 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? Doesn’t seem to be the case, if you go by how proud AkzoNobel is, with the initiative.
http://www.akzonobel.com/news/pressreleases/2010/lets_color_campaign_reaches_france.aspx

The intention of this post is not to antagonize a global ad agency behemoth – far from it. 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 right in the client

blog.

Other minor irritants that sure need a change!

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. One of the blog posts on the Indian flag is titled, ‘Trianga’ http://letscolourproject.com/blog/2010/04/the-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.

Comments

comments

14 thoughts on “What does AkzoNobel/ Dulux get out of the Let’s Colour Project?

  1. Hi there.

    I am the global Creative Director on the campaign you mention above. We were lucky to win the advertising account for Akzo Nobel’s Decorative Paints division a few months ago and the Let’s Colour Project is one of the elements of our global campaign.

    I wanted to try and answer some of the questions you have above.

    The fact that we have an official blogger is very simple: we need someone to keep the blog interesting, fresh and to be 100% dedicated. Rebecca is our employee, she is the official blogger.
    This doesn’t mean the rest of the team cannot blog. Especially in this project, where we all really did take part. I painted in all the places. Right there, with the communities. And it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in advertising. I was making something real.

    As you said yourself, social media is an evolving element of a communications platform and there are no rules set in stone. We see nothing wrong in having an official blogger. As for AN involvement, we never hid the brand. We never positioned it as a “sponsored project”. As for disclosure, not sure what exactly you mean, we never saw the need to disclose anything, seeing as it was a clear marketing effort, with the brand all over it. Also, she was presented as the official blogger of the project. I am not sure what else we should have disclosed. But I am happy to help clarify anything else you may want to know.

    In fact, I believe it is pretty common to blog about projects like that. As you said: usual suspects.
    🙂
    Read here about the project: http://letscolourproject.com/

    By the way, I asked Rebecca to write to you. She is a lovely Australian, yes, no lie there. Just as I am a Brazilian. And very proud of it indeed. She is Australian and she lives in London and she went around the world with us. She worked on a project for Skype a while back and then joined our team. Actually, the Skype project was what made us think she was perfect for it. We wanted a writer. A sensitive, curious, intelligent writer. And that’s what she is. One of the best I know.

    We apologise for the spelling mistake, we are fixing it asap. As for the Orkut page, am looking into that, I believe we may have a broken link somewhere.

    You also mention a multinational team; there are people in at least 6 different countries working with us on this project right now and there will be more soon. We have plans to go to more countries very soon and continue the project so we can continue to add colour to people’s lives and implement Akzo Nobel’s vision.

    I hope this answers most of your questions. Do not hesitate to write to me if there are any more.

    Thank you.

    Fernanda Romano

  2. Thanks for the detailed response, Fernando!

    Let me ask this in another way – if the Let’s Colour Project was a print ad, would the agency publish Rebecca’s photograph, name and quote in it? Or would it be a non-agency model/Dulux employee who would deserve that place?

    I however understand that it could still be Rebecca, since readers may not take the effort of searching for her name online and it is perhaps just one print instance. In the blog, everything is online – so the search is possible instantly, more so when the name appears *all over* the blog.

    But, let me also try and address the evolving part of social media communications alone, since that is the crux of my post.

    In advertising, the client gets the focus, obviously – they’re paying for it. Ad agencies get credit in a print ad, but not necessarily in other forms like television. Awards – yes.

    PR – agencies get awards, but no other form of credit, usually.

    In both cases, the communication partners represent a client via an intermediary – mainstream media. The objective is to use the influence and reach of the intermediary and hence reach the end consumers/TG.

    In social media, the intermediary is done away with, paving way for some interesting questions. If a communication partner is entrusted with the task of managing a Facebook page, it literally means extending the number of spokespersons for a client. Earlier, the client had a set of designated spokespersons who were trained to interact on behalf of the organization, with the outside world. A Facebook page is as spokesperson-like as any other – if only worse. The questions from people will be a lot more brutal and honest compared to media, who work within journalistic ethics.

    So, it becomes important to disclose who is interacting on behalf of the client, in case of social media. I do understand that it is pointless and not entirely necessary when the information shared and the ensuing conversations are completely within context – to both the client’s line of work and the queries/comments that are posed.

    In many instances, a Facebook page and even a Twitter page enables spoofing of the identity and I mean this in a positive sense – that it helps the clients focus on the core line of work and outsource the communication aspect to appropriate partners/vendors.

    But a blog is different, at least in my opinion.

    Consider this: when you visit the website of Dulux, who do you think is speaking to you? The brand, Dulux? Or the vendor that put together the content+design for the website? We always assume it is the former, since it is generally understood that the latter is a function of a communication partner and Dulux has blessed and agrees on the fact that the website’s content is, its own voice.

    Now, how about a blog? It could be done, to explain with rudimentary points, in 2 ways,
    – the client may not have the time to create/manage a blog, but still wants to have one to open a communication channel with a TG, online. So, they outsource it to a communication partner – a PR or an advertising agency.
    – the client puts together and internal team to manage the blog.

    In both cases, the idea is same – the client brand speaks to the TG. It is their voice. Not the communication partners, as in the first point.

    What I found odd was the fact that the names of a communication partner employees (advertising agency) displayed prominently as official bloggers in the Let’s Colour project blog.

    Is that the voice of Dulux?

    Or the individual voices of Rebecca, yourself and others? Or, are we to assume that the individual voices have been blessed by Dulux?

    The reason I’m asking this is because in case individual advertising agency employees as listed as bloggers, the outlook is akin to saying that Dulux has merely bankrolled the project and it is the advertising agency that is doing the ground work. Is there an issue there? Not entirely, if it was mainstream media – this is social media, but.

    Here, authenticity matters more than it usually does, elsewhere, given the kind of communication channels that are open from every single connection and direction.

    By authenticity, I mean, a simple question – where does this passion to run the project come from? If it was a Dulux employee (or a group of employees), their passion is towards the brand and enhancing the reputation of their employer in appropriate ways, on-ground. If it was a communication partner, even if the team was personally interested and motivated in a cause, at the end of the day, it is the client’s budget that is a motivating factor – paid to perform.

    If Euro RSCG considers this role as that of an event manager, I would assume that the role would be to perform the on-ground activities where the client need not allocate internal resources to perform a non-core activity. But when it comes to communicating the progress or even the performance of the initiative, I would perhaps consider letting the client talk, through the usual suspects – a media release, a blog, a microsite, online communities etc.

    As I mentioned earlier, some of those tools allow efficient and pardonable spoofing of identities – like a Facebook page. The assumption there is always that fans are interacting with the brand, given the fact that the agency has entrusted that task to a knowledgeable person who knows how to talk ‘like’ the client. In the blog, however, since there was no effort to let the client talk (and have event managers not affiliated with the client do the talking) it possibly looks more like Euro RSCG’s effort than Dulux’s.

    How would I deal with it? I would perhaps insist on disclosing the fact that I’m a communication partner. And that I’m helping Dulux manage the project. And add a fair share of Dulux employees as official bloggers – not list *all* of them from the agency. At least then it looks like the client is also making an effort to be a part of the initiative and not just paying for it.

  3. it’s great how you always manage to cherry pick campaigns best suited for discussion, karthik. i love the idea behind ‘let’s colour’ project, from the looks of it they have also executed it well. i wonder if they did anything in india around holi 🙂

    while you raise some interesting questions, i am happy to see fernanda’s convincing response. that, in itself, perhaps goes to prove – in addition to the significance of your post – they do take their digital media efforts seriously.

    the way i look at this is that the platform clearly belongs to dulux, so it is safe to assume that the bloggers/contributors would be their or their agency’s employees. not sure if we can compare this to say you and me going out there on twitter, a neutral platform, to push our clients without disclosure. when i read the contributors’ list, it was evident everybody, including rebecca, was retained by them for the job. it is fairly transparent.

    as for agency folks getting the credit, i believe, from the PR point of view, one of the advantages we do have over an in-house communications set-up is the neutral perspective that we bring to clients. if i were the client, i would rather have my agency be the face of my social media efforts (unless it is a CEO twitter account) than my own employees. there are of course no set rules here.

    finally, even if one were to go with the premise that the identity was deliberately kept a secret, i would think an element of mystique might just help generate more interest and curiosity. when i read your post, i wanted to know who rebecca was and that made your post all that more interesting 🙂

    great points re. ‘minor irritants’ and again happy to see they have been responsive to those red flags.

  4. Surekha: Fantastic response – thanks! The point I liked the most and the one that I perhaps missed addressing was the fact that the platform (the blog) was so obviously Dulux’s. That makes it completely believable that someone affiliated with Dulux in some way (paid/ not paid) is behind the effort. This additional thought changes a lot of my perspective too.

    But yes, I do seem to have a concern with the 2nd part – on who is actually doing the work and evincing passion towards the cause. Dulux or it’s paid agency? Would it make a difference to people reading about the initiative – no. Would it make a difference to the organization’s conscience – perhaps, but that is not a huge concern I suppose.

  5. I just love it when it happens-quiet yet tough questions answered properly and accurately by those who know…
    Out of the agency perspective, I wish companies could fully understand the power of social media and online presence in general. Unfortunately the lucky few that listen to their agencies then merely make it a matter of “must have”, outsource their image and values to some (hopefully good) external writer, and tend to forget about it. I appreciate Fernanda coming in to explain her own and the company’s committment; how many corps out there are that lucky?
    But in the end these pioneer (!) companies are not necessarily to be blamed.
    They find shortcuts (outsourcing) and wait for results; at least they timely invest in the most powerful media ever, even if among their employees they just can’t find the correct skills necessary to sustain a blog. It’ll take a while before this becomes a real competence, recognised as such. My concern is that by outsourcing the company won’t learn.. (I keep learning a lot from these posts, thanks!)

  6. Hi Karthik,

    I’m Rebecca, the main blogger for the Let’s Colour Project.

    Advertising agency Euro RSCG created the concept for AkzoNobel and employed me to document the journey, which has just been absolutely fantastic.

    As well as actually transforming grey spaces the team has been creating a film and documentary and I was lucky enough to travel with them capturing the journey in Brazil, France, the UK and India on the blog and twitter.

    I’m an Australian based in London (like thousands of other Antipodeans). I’ve worked as a creative (copywriter) for advertising agencies such as McCann Erickson Sydney, JWT Sydney and TBWA London. I have a passion for travel, photography and documenting real life, and have been lucky enough to fulfil these while working as a freelance creative for Skype (via Albion London) and now AkzoNobel (via Euro RSCG) amongst other roles.

    The Skype job was an absolute dream but was seriously crazy. One month of perpetual motion, which meant I had to eat, sleep, blog and use Skype on the move. Check it out here: http://www.skype.com/go/nomad.

    You can see my reel here: http://www.vimeo.com/4508192
    Telegraph online column here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/hubs/globalnomad/
    LinkedIn here: http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_tab_pro
    Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=623002811

    I’ve thought for a long time that advertising is becoming more truthful. Both the Skype Nomad and the Let’s Colour Project are examples of big brands doing just this. I think they are both brave and great. Both brands put their products to the test. Both are completely transparent. It is projects like these that I will continue to strive to be involved in. And am certain that the job I will be doing in one, two or three years from now does not currently exist. I love that!

    You’re right about the typo in the Tiranga post. Sorry about that, have edited it.

    As for not being a big shot on twitter, absolutely. Prior to this project I’ve been more of a facebook girl. But must say now, I’m officially hooked 🙂

    If you’ve got any other questions, just holler.

    Cheers

    Rebecca Campbell

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for the response. Given your passion for travel, photography and documenting things, I believe you could be listed as the official blogger based on those qualifications. Listing 12 other people as bloggers seems like an overkill, particularly when they don’t seem to be ‘blogging’ anything.

      The point I was making was across 3 levels,
      a. Is the person writing for the project appropriate? In your case, it seems so.

      b. What is that person’s motivation? That is, beyond monetary gratification?

      c. Should a. and b. be made transparent in the blog.

      I still think you could have been listed because of your personal interests, making it more believable than I-from-the-agency-am-doing-this tone. It’d be something akin to a brand getting a writer in one specific genre to do some work for them – he’d get paid for it no doubt, but he also is apt for the job given his interest in that topic.

      This is the level of authenticity that works best in social media, at least in my opinion. The ideal situation though is letting someone from the brand organization be the face of the blog and not someone from an agency.

  7. Hi again.

    I honestly don’t think Rebecca needs to explain her motivation any further; if you read her posts, it is clearly explained there. She is an explorer. She is curious, she is interested in people, she loves colour, film and photography. And she found a way to make a living doing it. We and our client were very fortunate that we found her. That she could be the main voice of this blog.

    You don’t see our posts signed, but we send content to her all the time. We create content for the blog all the time. So, yes, I do believe we are entitled to the blogger title as well. In fact, we’d be “not disclosing” if we didn’t admit we are also blogging in my opinion. Albeit not as often as Rebecca.

    Now, we thank you for the interest in the campaign and for your suggestions as to how to tackle social media matters. As I said in my first answer, I don’t believe there are rules set in stone for social media. Actually, me and loads of other people don’t really believe in it. Which is the beauty of it. We can continue to evolve, learn, make better stuff. Everyday. Isn’t that refreshing?

    You see, I also don’t believe there are any clear job descriptions/specific areas of focus anymore for advertising agencies and I am extremely happy that Euro RSCG is one of the agencies constantly rethinking its role and what creative and communications work can mean today. It is our belief that social media is at the heart of brand building these days and it is why we are so passionate about it. As for someone external or from an agency blogging for the client, I guess it is fair to say this happens quite often – maybe not in India, maybe not with your clients – as most marketing organisations don’t usually have someone in house with the time to do it and because most agencies see themselves as part of the client’s organisation anyway.

    And that brings me to the point Rebecca and I tried to make earlier. You talk about passion. We at Euro RSCG are incredibly passionate about the Dulux brand and its mission. We are doing something fantastic for the world with a company that believes in their role in society. A company that invests in research and development, has amazing products and incredibly talented people. When we pitched for the account, it was one of the reasons we wanted it: we believed we had found a group of people who believes in the same things we believe in. We do One Young World, we did TckTckTck with the World Humanitarian Fund. We, as a company, globally, believe that we need to give back. And so does Akzo Nobel.

    So, yes, we are part of our client’s company. Very much so. And while there is a commercial relationship between us and our client, there is a philosophical bond as well.

    I truly encourage you to actually surf the blog. All the pages. We have videos with Akzo Nobel people from around the world. Listen to them talking about the company, the project, the mission. It is all the same message. Perhaps then you will see that we are all one voice.

    Thanks again for the interest and for the suggestions.

    All the best.

    Fernanda

    1. Fernanda,

      I completely concur with your points as regards the lack of rules in social media engagement, the passion that Euro RSCG shares with its clients’ business and the fact that the agency works so closely with its clients, like an extended team.

      Where I do have a query can be explained by a few hypothetical situations. Consider these,

      a. Rebecca is a known explorer, photographer etc. She has proven to be good in what she does. She wants to contribute further to the cause. Euro RSCG and AkzoNobel found her appropriate for the project and ask her to do it pro-bono…it is a noble, CSR’ish project anyway. Would she do it with as much passion as seen now – for the greater good and not for monetary compensation?

      No, I agree, everybody needs to make a living – but consider this question from the blog’s readership point of view.

      If there was no compensation, who’s views would they be reading? Rebecca, the passionate traveler’s and, as a result, AkzoNobel, the caring and generous organization’s?

      When compensation comes into the play, it perhaps changes the equation to…Rebecca, the passionate traveler who is incidentally employed for compensation by Euro RSCG and AkzoNobel, the caring and generous organization that perhaps does not have enough resources on its own (not that there’s anything wrong with it – as Seinfeld would have added!) and has merely outsourced its passion and generosity to an agency?

      In the former, the intentions are completely skewed positively towards the client brand – the dream situation for a brand looking for CSR-specific image. The latter, however, is somewhat conveniently murky.

      b. AkzoNobel wants a few bloggers to travel and contribute content – so, like Coca Cola’s Open Happiness, AkzoNobel calls for people with a passion to travel and document that with photos and text, to be a part of the project. They could be doing it for the sheer spirit of it or even for compensation given the time they need to spend away from work. The process of selecting passionate people here is completely transparent. This is a slightly more known model, currently.

      c. AkzoNobel finds that there is a famous blogger, who also happens to be a photographer and likes traveling. The client engages an event management firm to manage on-ground activities across 4 countries but works with this blogger – with/without compensation – to catalog that project on a daily basis on his/her own blog. The reason is simple – a brand new blog initiated by AkzoNobel can go only so far, but an existing blog of a famous blogger with like-minded passion could come in hugely handy in spreading the word considerably faster.

      These are some of the models that are in play right now, not in India, but across the world. They are being driven by both advertising agencies and/or PR agencies. The difference between these 3 and what we see in the current AkzoNobel blog is transparency. In the above 3 models, the choice and selection of bloggers – spokespersons for the brand AkzoNobel – is an open, authentic and transparent process.

      Finally, let me leave you with a press release from FTC, dated October 5, 2009. http://ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm

      A relevant excerpt,

      “The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers â?? connections that consumers would not expect â?? must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

      Euro RSCG has an existing relationship with the client, AkzoNobel. It is a client-agency relationship where there is obvious material remuneration. Should that be disclosed when listing out bloggers in a client-owned blog that is populated by ‘bloggers’ belonging to the agency?

  8. Karthik.

    It’s been all over the news we are their agency and the blog is branded with Akzo Nobel’s brands. Also, it mentions that we are from the agency (on many posts) and work on the campaign.

    Again. Thanks for the suggestions, much appreciated.

    Fernanda

    1. Fair enough, Fernanda. The news is common knowledge for agency folks – not necessarily people on the street who might chance upon this project’s blog. And blog posts do mention the relation. Just that ‘the’ place that should perhaps add this helpful note is silent on the connection – that is, the list of bloggers page.

      Anyway, moving on…

  9. I couldn’t read all the comments its all too long.. but my 2 bits are that I really like the project!! The painting they have done is very pretty! I would like to be a part if they are doing something in Mumbai!

    Also I think its nice if the individual blogger who is involved in the campaign blogs from her personal id even if he/she is paid for it. In fact if the campaign is a paid one then a big kudos to the agency for coming up with such a lovely idea!

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