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The Raging Cow Boycott
© Tim Ireland 2004
Raging Cow has got everybody buzzing - to the extreme, baby!
Actually, they've really just got a lot of people mad, but the tragedy is that the agency (Richards Interactive) and the company (Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc.) can now turn this around into some very favourable trade articles.
It doesn't matter what we say here. Contrary to popular belief, it's not really the agencies that drive most creative; it's the clients - and the last thing I want is for a bunch of them to read how this is in some way a success, because the end result will be much, much more of the same.
Yes, I'm in marketing. Yes, I advocate the intelligent use of weblogs for marketing purposes. That's why this is the perfect place for this proposed boycott. The only people who will back it up at this location will do so for the right reasons. So...
If you support a boycott of Raging Cow products, all you have to do is link to this page from your site.
Why Should I Do This?
You shouldn't do this because you want to be different, or even just plain ornery.
You also shouldn't do this if you think it will stop commercial intrusion altogether. It won't.
You should only do this if you want to ensure that every article that references Raging Cow includes a reference to this boycott.
You should only do this if you want everybody who searches for information on the Raging Cow campaign to find this page.
Get A Grip, Pal! What's The Big Deal?
I know it seems harsh - and yes, I do have better things to do - but this is the only thing that can stem a flood of copycat attempts in our part of town.
Sure, you could ignore it. Kind of like you ignore spam.
The people who make the cash decisions need to know that charging into our arena expecting it all for nothing is a very bad idea.
This is a rare chance for us to play the game on our terms. To change the rules. If people want to reach us, they need to know that it's going to be on our terms, and that we will not be insulted by offers of cheap freebies.
Commercial influences will always be a part of life, but this kind of campaign sets a very dangerous precedent - and a very low price on our complicity (if, indeed, any is forthcoming).
A smattering of worth and intelligence wouldn't go astray, either. Nobody wants a repeat of the AllAdvantage debacle.
However... if there's cash to be made from weblog marketing, I personally would like to see a fair share of it going to the bloggers themselves.
Fellow marketing bods! You pay for advertising or coverage in print, you pay for placement on TV. Guess what? It's the same thing here, but we'd like to set the terms and the price if that's OK with you. Yes, you can afford it - especially if you stop pissing your money away on banners and spam.
What Can Richards Interactive and Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. Do To Stop This Proposed Boycott?
A suitably grand gesture such as admitting publicly what a mistake this approach was would go a long way, but a price has to be paid for the bean-counters to really take notice. I myself would like to suggest a large and suitably painful cash donation to something everybody can use such as the Web Archive, but I'm open to any better suggestions you may have.
OK, that's it for now. Updates to follow.
UPDATE - There's even a very pretty button link thingie now (copy and paste the code below for this), but please link only if you are doing so for the right reasons. This is not a vote against marketing. It is a vote against fuckwitism.
The Raging Cow Boycott went live at 10:22pm (GMT) on Thursday, March 6th, 2003. By 10:00am on Sunday, March 9th, 2003 it was the No. 3 result for 'raging cow' in Google. This soon propagated into Yahoo! - and even managed to climb a spot to hold steady at No. 2 (the actual Raging Cow site did no better than No. 5 in these vital early days of the teaser campaign and product launch).
March 13th 2003 - The Raging Cow Boycott was clearly referenced and credited in this excellent article in the Globe & Mail.
If Richards Interactive have the guts to get real about this, they can still turn it around by making a charitable donation as suggested above or - if they want to see how it should be done - I can use this donation to create a site that takes almost exactly the same creative approach as Raging Cow, but builds an audience by its genuine contribution to the weblog community. This will not only prove my point, it will allow them to leave the field of battle with honour - and perhaps even go on to win an extra campaign or two. All that's left to them now is a statistical victory and very little credibility. If they want projectblogger.com to grow, they should consider this offer very, very carefully.
(Support has now reached the point where not all link support shows up in the referral stats, so if you do link to the site please send an email letting me know so I can give you a nice 'thank you' in the main blog.)
15th April 2003 - Well, the boycott page is doing its job if this article at Slate is any indication. The following passage speaks volumes:
"Reaching out to the elusive grass roots, I sent Nicole an e-mail to see if I could speak with her. Shortly after, I got a phone call from a publicist at Dr Pepper/7Up, who said she would be happy to arrange a conference call."
27th April 2003 - We're now at No.3 for relevant searches in Google and the official Raging Cow site has finally - finally - nestled in at the No. 1 spot. Where it should have been and would have been from Day One had Richards Interactive dealt with this correctly. This page isn't professionally armed, BTW. The people spoke; Google listened. It's as simple as that.
27th November 2004 - Mission accomplished. The Raging Cow debacle is now consistently referenced as a marketing disaster. Indeed, it is often the first campaign mentioned when the conversation turns to the risks of weblog marketing (of the witless variety). The official Raging Cow site/blog has sunk without a trace and this boycott page dominates search results for 'raging cow' in every major search engine. Thank you to everybody who took part.