Why Your Marketing Staff Shouldn’t Live In Silos

I’m still paging through my SXSW World magazine, and it’s proving to be a treasure trove of bad marketing. After writing about the disastrous Miller Lite ad, I decided to scan every QR code in the magazine, just to see how they were being used. Next up was an add for Can We Network, which, from what I can tell, is an upcoming app from Can We Studios. But you see, I can’t really tell you about it. Why? Clearly, this is a case of the marketing department not talking to the rest of the organization. This is a particularly egregious example, as I’m assuming this startup has just a few employees who should be speaking with each other every day. Here’s the ad:

SXSW World Can We Meet Ad

I'll just gloss over the fact that the riff on Uncle Sam is completely overdone.

So, first I scanned the QR code. The link is dead. It directs you to http://cwn.canwestudios.com/?sxswad1. I’m not even hyperlinking that URL, because it doesn’t exist. With a little sleuthing, I determined it was indeed supposed to link to http://canwestudios.com/?sxswad1.  What QR-code, mobile appropriate content will you find there, you ask? Well, none. It’s just a copy of the main site, which really doesn’t have any content. The funny thing is, the only traffic their actual sxsw ad landing page will get will likely come from this blog.

I thought the nice thing to do would be to inform the company of their mistake directly. They were kind enough to put their Twitter username, @canwenetwork, right in the ad. Here’s another problem – that Twitter account is an egg-head with no description and one follower. I assume the ad was supposed to point readers to be @canwemeet. Although it’s not a highly active Twitter account, it does have their recognizable company logo and a descriptive bio.

So, we have a display ad that I assume wasn’t cheap, which includes a QR code to a dead link and an inactive Twitter account that may not even belong to the company. What exactly is the value of this ad? Why not admit that the company really isn’t into Twitter and QR codes and just add the URL to the ad? Did someone tell the marketing staff to use the URL and Twitter account, or did marketing forget to tell the staff they’d included it in the ad? However it pans out, it’s an expensive mistake.

On top of all this, the ad doesn’t even tell me what the company does. The website doesn’t have any content other than some email addresses for more information. Basically, they appear to be a mobile web development company that happened to launch a networking/party mobile app. Given that the people they’re trying to reach are quite savvy about the things they’ve screwed up in this ad, I’m thinking it will cause them more harm than good. Hopefully they have a stellar guerrilla marketing strategy at SXSW, or I don’t see this campaign going anywhere.

Can you think of other cases where marketing jumped the gun on the rest of an organization? How did it turn out? Please share in the comments.

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4 Comments on “Why Your Marketing Staff Shouldn’t Live In Silos

  1. I read almost all of your blog posts Liz. The last couple are quite interesting. Wouldn’t you just like to talk with them about the context surrounding this , to better understand why they approached things the way they did? My guess, someone overworked and cranking to say they did something. You should think about a model for micro-consulting, like micro-loans, to help with marketing. Small fixed fee and reasonable percent for success. I think you could make some money because there is a real need. Bruce.

    • Thanks for reading, Bruce. I definitely think a lot of times brands/marketers just want to look like they’re up to speed with the latest trends, so they throw QR codes or a Twitter handle on an ad without thinking about the appropriateness or usability. Sometimes simple still really is better.

      I love the consulting idea, and I’ve thought about it – I just don’t know if I can fit additional work on top of my studies right now. I’m definitely not going to sacrifice gardening time 🙂

      I hope all is well at UW-Madison. Perhaps we’ll run into each other sometime soon – it’s been too long. And I’m thirsty for a pineapple vodka martini.

  2. Great post. Good point!
    As the owner of a marketing company, we regularly step out of our silo to see what is going on in the real world. More importantly, we actually USE the marketing we implement. 🙂

    We have found QR Codes to be beneficial if you add three factors:
    1. They must be attractive! Black & White QR Codes are becoming passé! Now, we custom brand and custom color QR Codes for our clients to maintain the quality of the artwork in the ad and the uniform branding across all mediums.
    2. They must be trackable! Our clients want to know how many scans they received! We have found a way to track that and provide a full report and real time analytical data throughout their campaign.
    3. They must be editable! We create a beautifully branded & trackable QR code for our client and just after we go to print, they want to change where that little code points or maybe they want to change it seasonally on something that will be in circulation for years to come. Our client must be able to make a change to the information linked to the code to keep all of their marketing campaigns current.
    SO, all that being said, we actually formed another company to take care of all of that for our clients and they loved it so much, we put the company online for others to use as well! BrandedQRs.com It is our brand new baby, but our clients are LOVING the results. I would love to hear your honest opinion on this idea. The website is still in various stages of construction so bare with us there.

    Thanks for spreading the word about the PROPER uses of QR Codes!

  3. Pingback: If You Don’t Like My Blog, Tell Me—Not My Boss | Liz Gross

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