The Ken Bone Effect & how not to troll the election

In case you’re one of the lucky ones who missed the carnage that was last night’s “political debate”, here’s what you need to know:

  • Trump wants to repeal Obamacare and lock Hillz up
  • Hillary want to change the tax code doesn’t think that Donald is suitable for office
  • Twitter was at its absolute finest
  • And a new hero emerged from the ashes:

For a real, intelligent and (the closest thing to) objective breakdowns available, here are a couple of perspectives:

But we’re here to talk about digital and social, so while I have your attention I want to make 1 important point: When topics get real, the internet deflects. It’s what we do.

You know that friend who just always has that one perfectly-timed remark to cut the tension? There are thousands of those friends on the internet, and even more people who want nothing more than to have that tension relieved for them so that we no longer have to engage in anything that resembles #RealTalk.

That’s not a good thing. It’s not good that we deflect from real discussion or from a constructive exchange of ideas, and then there was Ken Bone.

Ken is the nicest guy at your company Christmas party and, we’ve learned, someone who is more than happy to laugh along with the rest of the internet.

He stood up in the town hall format and asked one of the only thoughtful, important questions of the night. The candidates, of course, both avoided answering in any meaningful way, but the internet wouldn’t let him fade into obscurity. Like Oreo at the Super Bowl, Ken Bone is one of the most talked about topics at a major international event, and there’s an important lesson in there for us.

What Oreo and Ken have in common is that they allowed us to have a little fun at the very moment that we were ready to throw our TVs out the window. That’s pivotal, especially in this case, because there was no constructive exchange of ideas happening either on the screen on in our feeds — only the worst part of our consciousness rearing its ugly head, therefore the relief was actually an opportunity to drop our guards for a moment and remember that we’re all in this together.

As brands, we can learn that there is always a place for a bit of fun, an opportunity for people to share and (especially) run with a joke, owning it for themselves.

What we can also learn is that attempting to fully hijack a significant event for our own gain is so transparently obvious that it doesn’t even get people pissed off anymore, it pretty much goes unnoticed.

Poor Bisquick

This would have been an effective (albeit misguided) campaign in 2008, or maybe even 2012, but we’ve seen this song & dance before and it fell to the floor like an over-rehearsed joke.

The result of Bisquick’s well-prepared, professionally shot and unfortunately targeted campaign was roughly 100 total engagements, 200 new followers and a lot of negativity in their replies.

Real Time Marketing was a thing for a little while. When it was done well, it was amazing, but most of the time it was like your awkward Uncle trying to make pop culture references at the kids’ table.

Now we’re in a place where we can do so much more. We can add value, support people and tell stories. Why weren’t travel operators surprise & delighting tongue-in-cheek getaways? Why weren’t Universities offering real-time, easy-to understand context and information about the topics at hand?

There will always be a place for Charmin and its toilet humour, because that’s what its brand is. But if your brand doesn’t operate in the bathroom, then ask yourself how you can elevate what you’re offering. How can you honestly say to yourself: Our followers are going to be stoked that we created this?

When every one of us can honestly say that about every piece of content that we create, then we what we do is one of the most powerful and valuable things that a brand can contribute to the world.

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