We have entered a new era in marketing, where social media opens up opportunities for brands to engage with their customers and potential customers in ways never imagined. One downside of this new world is when a brand is disingenuous, they are opening up themselves to withering criticism by social media, which will then lead to derision by mass media.
This week’s example of a disingenuous ad is LeBron James’ “What Should I Do” Nike commercial. It runs a whopping one minute and thirty seconds during which LeBron asks “what should I do” 9 times. (Answers he poses range from “Should I admit that I’ve made mistakes” to “Should I really believe I rule my legacy?”) The problem is we all know that LeBron will do exactly what he wants to, without concern for his fans. He’s entitled to do what he wants, but he shouldn’t star in a commercial that makes it seem like an open question.
The video was mocked best by Cleveland Cavalier fans who derisively tell LeBron what he “should do.” Others who parodied the video include Lee Fisher, a democratic candidate for the Ohio senate, ESPN’s Michelle Beadle who comically asked “Should I remind people how awesome I am?”, and South Park, which lambasted LeBron by equating him to disgraced BP CEO Tony Hayward.
Visible Measures, a provider of Internet video optimization solutions for publishers and advertisers, worked with The Wall Street Journal to tally the number of times the Nike commercial was played on YouTube (4mm and counting as of 11/15), with another 1.2mm played on a copied version of the original. In total, the original was played 5.2mm times as of 11/15. However the parodies have overtaken the original in views, with the Cleveland trashing of LeBron racking up more than 3.7mm, and poised to pass the original. The lesson here is clear: the key word in social media advertising is “authentic.”