I was at WATsummit, in Mumbai, when the I Feel Up controversy started. So, I wasn’t able to blog about it and offer my perspective. Though the world has chatted about it and moved on, I do have something left to say on this issue.
1. Is there really a controversy?
Yes, I tweeted first on Friday morning about The Viewspaper‘s I Feel Up being a stooge for 7UP’s new brand tagline. But, on second thoughts, I really don’t think The Viewspaper did anything inappropriate. Yes, it looks like they had multiple emails with and without mentioning the 7UP association, but think about it – would people who are tweeting that hashtag (#IFeelUP) really rush to buy 7UP? All because The Viewspaper asked them to share things that they feel UP about India?
Not exactly. I Feel UP, as a phrase, is not owned by 7UP. Well, technically yes, but if you don’t point out the 7UP connection, it stands on its own too, with its own meaning. It’s just that 7UP makers want people to feel UP after consuming the drink, but that’s beside the point.
Even if The Viewspaper has categorically mentioned about the tag line in the invite email, I wouldn’t feel all that cheated simply because their cause was good, though, execution-wise, it was forced and came with a lot of spam.
But notice how even the video to promote the tweetathon doesn’t have any 7UP connection except subtle ones like the background color and the way UP is written. This seems like an obvious attempt to conceal the brand connection.
2. The hashtag itself
That brings me to the crux of the problem – that creepy hashtag.
I understand 7UP gave the hashtag since it IS the brand’s tag line, but what was,
a. BBDO thinking, while coining this creepy tag line in the first place?
b. The Viewspaper thinking, while accepting to use this hashtag in the name of discussing India’s future.
3. The point of it all!
There’s none and that bothers me more than the first 2 points. 7UP is a low-involvement product category. The brand hasn’t really associated itself with the future of this nation nor has it demonstrated interest in improving the country. Ever. 7UP’s positioning and communication has always been light, frothy and adequately frivolous, whenever it wasn’t busy trying to counter Sprite’s ads.
So, the very idea of asking The Viewspaper to make its new tagline popular through this tweetathon seems like a bad one. Assume the tag trends (as it perhaps did) for 2-3 days and people notice it all over the place. How does that help 7UP? One, The Viewspaper goofed in not fully disclosing the association and two, even if it did, very few people connected the trending hashtag with 7UP’s new tagline. The only party that gained is The Viewspaper, first in terms of visibility during the tweetathon and next, notoriety, when the lack of client disclosure went viral.