When Members of the Digerati Tire of All the Web 2.0 Bullshit, What’s Next?

Wieden’s digital ninja, Renny Gleeson is not impressed with the shallow work being done by Axe and Skittles online.
Actually, “not impressed” is much too weak a description. Let’s look at the source material, shall we?

So now Axe’s BBH tries to go all web metafilter for their new site, following on the heels of Agency.com’s blatant Modernista! rip off for Skittles. Will we get the usual round of forehead slapping cries of brilliance from the tiny community who gives a crap? Time will tell.
The only folks I don’t see deriving ANY benefit out of this 2.0 wankfest are normal people. Now arguably, Modernista! isn’t trying to create a consumer proposition with their website. But Skittles is. And so, presumably is Axe.
Which begs the question: if I and most folks didn’t give a crap about the TV ads companies used to slap on their brochureware sites, why the f— do I care about how well distributed their brand voice is online? Does the average 18 year old CARE what the AXE effect is on Stumble Upon? let me think…ah….NO.

In other words, we won’t see Nike or Coca-Cola pulling this shit anytime soon.
I salute Renny for his diatribe. He manages to insult “the tiny community” of Web 2.0 gurus, while creating plenty of distance between himself and the undesirables. He’s making sure he’s not lumped in with the self-anointed social media experts, a real danger when the entire web is social.
And then there’s the question of the work itself. Renny says it’s irrelevant. That’s tough talk in Adlandia. I’ll say this, it’s far from irrelevant as a publicity generator. One of the things we Adlandians like to do is get people talking. But it has to be the right people–consumers of the product.
My own take on the Skittles and Axe “pointing outward” trend–which began with the launch of Modernista’s self-promo site–is more accepting. There’s a humility in brands choosing not to talk about themselves, and letting the audience control the message. It’s messy and the brand may need to let go of its prized talking points. But is that so bad?
The web is a vast media lab where experiments are the order of the day. Maybe Skittle and Axe are missing the boat. Maybe not. That’s why you run the experiment.
[UPDATE] Renny added further clarification last night.

I was posting to call out LAMENESS.
A lame brand is a mirror that simply reflects the world we know now (hence my distaste for creative focus groups, an entirely different subject).
A dynamic brand listens well, engages provocatively and relevantly, and leads me somewhere new.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.