Summary: Agency.com Attempts at “Rolling Big”
My co-worker first showed me this video a day or two back, now online marketing folks all over are buzzing (or most likely, dissing) Agency.com’s Subway viral, which is “a video of themselves pitching the Subway business as the pitch itself and uploaded it to YouTube.” (AdRants)
Everyone seems to applaud Agency.com for its high-risk and daring effort for doing a viral as a pitch for doing a viral (The Idea). (Is this like Shakespeare’s play-with-in-a-play?) But, it seems they’re unanimous in kicking Agency.com to the ground on how it was done (The Execution).
On the Execution: My opinion on that the content is that yes it is cheesy – there’s the line “When We Roll, We Roll Big” – because it is a semi-satire at themselves. Its not a documentary on the inner workings of Agency.com. They embraced the cheesiness with www.WhenWeRollWeRollBig.com.
On the Idea: Steve Rubel comments that “[putting] Subway’s brand at risk like this at the expense of winning an account is a bad business decision.” This is a valid point I have to side on, but this is assuming Agency.com did not have Subway’s permission.
Agency.com stated: “When Subway called us with a Request for Information and the option of submitting a video, we snapped. We decided to put it all out there and show them what we actually are”.
So did they or didnt they? That’s a major question yet to be answered.
If they did, they I say kudos to Agency.com for being not only a great risk taker, but the first. Perhaps its not the best viral content, but they put their necks on the line for trying something different. Sure agencies take risks, but how many agencies would make that big of a risk?
If they didnt have permission, then I would say that Steve is right and I’d call the viral a bad idea regardless of the strength of the content.
I’m sure we’ll hear Subway’s side soon.
Agency.com: The Talk of The Internet Marketers Town
Lots of people are calling Agency.com’s attempt as pathetic – Logic+Marketing compares it to the Aztec car as an example of bad execution, Steve Rubel calls just plain irresponsible…but how true are these claims?
Its called muddled, cheesy, bad for Agency.com’s image – esp. the bit about how the Agency.com folks proclaimed “When We Roll We Roll Big.”
It seems that Agency.com took that and spun it back by setting-up a site called www.WhenWeRollWeRollBig.com, a blog to debate and discuss the viral video. A good move to take advantage of some the negative buzz and also a show of openness.
[The content of the video] is boring and cheesy at best, patronising and ignorant in places at worst. By jumping on the latest â€˜buzzâ€™ / â€˜fadâ€™ technology bandwagon to promote themselves, they have actually shown that they donâ€™t understand the medium. Also, they project themselves as a hierarchical, reactionary organisation. There was no evidence of strategic thinking – just some footage of one of the worst â€˜brainstormsâ€™ Iâ€™ve seen. There must be a negative impact on the Agency.com brand?
Paul’s point is valid – that is, assuming the video is supposed to be an accurate representation of Agency.com inner workings. But, I believe its closer to a semi-satirical look at themselves than a documentary. This video was very obviously not meant to a documentary.
Valid Criticisms from Steve Rubel
Most criticisms focused on the execution and content of the video. Steve Rubel puts on some valid points on the delivery of the video itself:
First of all, to put Subway’s brand at risk like this at the expense of winning an account is a bad business decision. Agency.com is holding Subway’s brand hostage for ransom. If I were the brand manager for Subway I would find this totally offensive.
This is a sticky ethical issue for Agency.com and would be an interesting question to ask a Subway executive. Did they have Subway’s permission. We cant tell from Agency.com’s statement on the viral.
Indeed, would I like my company being placed in a viral video as part of a pitch without my approval? I am not so sure.
Over at Agency.com’s “When We Roll, We Roll Big” website, a commenter Jeff writes:
Its pretty amazing to read all these posts on quite a few advertising blogs. And see how – haters in an effort to say something isn’t viral – actually make it viral within the ad community. And make Agency.com…become more relavent than it’s ever been in the last 6 years. Famous or infamous people will debate. But you guys are making friggin T-shirts for them now. People are taking sides. Love it or hate it – (people are) passing it around. There’s chatter (I’m guessing this is the longest comment string ever for a post), debate and passion. None of this was happening before they posted their video.“
The major ethical issue Steve mentioned not withstanding, I would have to agree. Perhaps the execution was poor, but Agency.com took a major leap in experimentation in an era no one has tried before. No one else can claim that level of experimentation or pioneerism because they are the first.
I’m sure we’ll hear more about this soon, especially Subway’s reaction.
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