October 17, 2006
fake walmart blog
[Click on image to enlarge/download/print etc. Licensing terms here etc.]
My own opinion? Edelman aren't stupid enough to have let this happen on purpose. Something else is going on. My guess is either Walmart pulled a Cleopatra on them and Edelman's taking the rap, otherwise it was just your average middle-mangement SNAFU [If I were a gambling man, I'd wager more towards the latter]. Not that it matters. Errare humanem est. Stuff happens. Learn and move on.
Doubtless Edelman will dust themselves off and get straight back in the saddle. And THE NEXT TIME someone inside their circle suggests withholding due disclosure...
As my mother is fond of saying, "Education is expensive".
I still stand by the nice things I said about Edelman. I enjoyed meeting Richard Edelman and his team last week.
[AFTERTHOUGHT:] I know bloggers like their high-horse feeding frenzies, but compared to the day-to-day flames large PR agencies have to douse on behalf of their clients, this stuff is child's play.
[Meanwhile:] Tris Hussey puts it in perspective.
[UPDATE:] From Scoble:
Richard Edelman, head of Edelman*, just called. He wrote a blog post about the Walmart/Edelman disclosure (or lack thereof) issue over the weekend. He says “this should not have happened.” He also said he didn’t respond until he had all the facts, which is why both him and Steve Rubel hadn’t responded until now. Now that he has, he says that they didn’t do a good job here and he’s working to educate his staff so this doesn’t happen again. Steve Rubel also wrote about it and was pretty specific “our firm failed to be completely transparent.”
Richard also apologized for his firm’s error.
That’s enough for me. It’s pretty clear, based on our conversation that this isn’t allowable behavior at Edelman and that he isn’t telling his clients it’s a good thing to do this and that, if a similar site goes up, that full disclosure will be there and will be there from the beginning.
That's enough for me, as well. Given the circumstances, I think Richard and Rubel handled it pretty well.
Posted by hugh macleod at October 17, 2006 9:42 AM
I'm waiting for them to drop Wal-Mart, so it can fail and demonstrate the fate of companies that don't get it.
I think you're cartoon says it all. I bet someone got fired for this, and maybe a couple of someones. I really believe Richard Edelman and Steve Rubel knew nothing about this fake blog until they read about it themselves. When they got wind of it, they turned the place upside down to find the decision path. When they found who made the decisions, they showed him/her/them the door. And then they made a brief statement. In the end, the issue may be important to the profession, but it's still inside baseball.
I've always found your cartoons funny with the bitter, twisted, and sad humor all great comedians exhibit, but this Edelman/Walmart one falls flat like a dead-drunk stand up comic tripping off a stained and rotting stage.
It was Edelman's senior management who approved the Walmart blog disaster, not a "junior account manager."
A much funnier card would play off that fact, i.e. a bum on a streetcorner in NY with a cup of pencil's and a card saying, "I am blind and my dog is dead!" signed, "Edelman...former CEO Edelman Ad Agency."
"but this Edelman/Walmart one falls flat like a dead-drunk stand up comic tripping off a stained and rotting stage."
Spare me the melodrama, Bruce [Oh yes it was].
I always get squidgy when I hear a lot of people talking about "getting it..." as what usually follows is a campaign to belittle the "not getting its" by the "getting its," which seems to ignore the fact that in the end we still all have to work together. It's much more useful to have a good conversation about what "it" really is, and Edelman's work on this one clearly applies an old-school model to new-school media. More education on how thinking needs to change is clearly indicated. Who approved what and how is "blame-game" trivia.
following not just the Wal-Mart "flog" story, but also the Wal-Mart blogger story--both ideas were brainchidren of Edelman--it seems just as much that Edelman's pushing on the blogosphere to see how far things will go before someone gets popped. And allowing the largest and most reviled company on the face of this earth to take the heat isn't a bad idea (because, basically, their bottom line won't get hurt...)
What Edelman and the rest of us have learned is:
1) from the "flog": freelance journalists can't act like double agents and take money from special interests while writing for established media. They end up like the Bond's first tryst in Goldfinger...but whose ethical dilemma is it? It's the freelancers'ethical dilemma-- not nec. the p/r folks.
2) from the W-M bloggers: some bloggers have big egos and like to think that press releases from corporate reps makes them something like Woodward and Bernstein getting the goods from Deep Throat. The problem isn't necessarily with the p/r firm handing out exclusive press releases to bloggers--it's with some bloggers thinking they're more equal than others.
Edelman's got chutzpah. And the results they're getting teach us all alot about how we who are freelancers-online journalists-bloggers should act when approached by big p/r. What's more important to us? Ethics, or our egos?
Oh, and to add to what everybody else says: love your cartoons. they say what lots of us are thinking, but would probably get called little-so-and-so's if we did...
If it's funny it's funny. This is funny - at least it made me smile.
I hear ya, Tish.
As a marketing blogger I have no trouble whatsoever with people "pushing on the blogosphere to see how far things will go before someone gets popped"...
Because that's what all bloggers are doing, up to a point.
Risk vs reward, ethics vs opportunity, private vs public... all part of the mix. And the occasional "popped" is to be expected.
Surely you don't think Edelman was able to pull off a project like this -- paying for an RV, flying bloggers to Vegas, funding their travels, starting a very public blog, etc. -- without the approval of a senior manager somewhere along the line?
Some junior staffer thought of all that him/herself and never got a budget approved or asked his/her account supervisor if it was okay?
That is impossible to believe. Most big-time account managers don't even want junior staff e-mailing the client, let alone planning and implementing major communication initiatives on their own.
Hugh, Thanks for the link! And I think the cartoon was smashing. Yep, I bet someone dropped a pay grade or three over this.
I like your point in your last commment ... we have to take risks to make sure the blogosphere doesn't stagnate. And, yeah, I think bloggers might have been more than a little too harsh. I'm glad that finally hit me last night.
""but this Edelman/Walmart one falls flat like a dead-drunk stand up comic tripping off a stained and rotting stage."
Spare me the melodrama, Bruce [Oh yes it was].""
Sorry, mate. I meant in general. Didn't mean to accidently hit so close to home.
It is hard to comment because doing so I feel like a fool and not doing so I feel like a fool II (the sequel).
"Jump the shark". I hate those terms..terms like those - so bass - so direct - so common...but but but I might not be your market.
BUT I love your cartoons...you'll always have the cartoons Hughie....
I've lost you. Although I say I have only rarely read the cartoons - I have on occasion tasted your vernaculum menu, masticated it, swallowed, digested. I have been pleased, satisfied, quenched.
Anymore I feel unappetized. I don't exactly know why...except it seems you are earning more than you are thinking. Good luck to you Hugh. I'll miss your drawings.
Not sure I know what all the fuss is about, nor have I been following the details of this story. I do know shills are everywhere (No Logo by Naomi Klein is quite an eye opener and as relevant today as it ever was). Philip K Dick knew this and most of his best work is based on the premise of "what is truly real?" - my interpretation of his stories is that the differing factor is merely empathy. In the end, your sins can be viewed objectively but they are nonetheless eternal within the bounds of this universe.
If you absolutely have to put a positive spin on the whole thing, the Wall-Mart incident is, I think, something that makes the web so wunderfull. (yes..the german way...) It is, as Weinberger says, small pieces loosely joined. It's a messy chaotic place, without any laws other than the ones made up as we go...It's like being at a mascarade in the baroque era. Everybody wears a mask, and at midnight you swap masks, making it even more confusing...We wouldn't be here if it was neat and ordered...would we ?
"Except it seems you are earning more than you are thinking." You make it sound like a bad thing, Dawbie.
"It's like being at a mascarade in the baroque era. Everybody wears a mask, and at midnight you swap masks, making it even more confusing...We wouldn't be here if it was neat and ordered...would we ?"... Nicely put, Andreas.
Hitting close to home? Yes Bruce, I felt wounded and aggrieved ;-)
"I always get squidgy when I hear a lot of people talking about "getting it"..." Amen to that.
What a great sense of humor you have!Great cartoons, great ideia, great blog!I'll link you!
It's "errare humanum est" not "errare humanem est"
It's a quote from Seneca the Younger if I remember correctly.
your clock is still off
Bruce Curley wrote:
"A much funnier card would play off that fact, i.e. a bum on a streetcorner in NY with a cup of pencil's and a card saying, "I am blind and my dog is dead!" signed, "Edelman...former CEO Edelman Ad Agency.""
Thanks for quoting my favorite cartoonist, Sam Gross (New Yorker, National Lampoon, etc.), and perhaps his most famous cartoon.