Probably knowing that I really don’t care for fake social media campaigns, former blogger Ike Pigott forwarded me an e-mail about a campaign by spirits company Campari. It features a profile of an Italian woman, lots of pictures of her fake jet setting lifestyle in Milan and includes a MySpace profile, YouTube Channel and a Flickr profile to drive traffic to the flash-based Hotel Campari Website. It centers all around the theme of “My Red Passion.” Just a caution, these sites are risqué so if you are at work beware.
The campaign even features its own purpose-built del.icio.us page to track coverage of the campaign. I wonder what Todd Defren will think about that?
The social media sites are based around the “Hotel Campari” campaign, which the company says in a press release is “an intriguing blend of art and advertising…. an exciting mythical destination, starring Salma Hayek, that invites further exploration into the mystery, intrigue and passion of Campari.”
Salma Hayek is an actress, director and producer, who has been hired to represent the campaign.
If you don’t know what it is, Campari is the signature brand of Campari Group, located in Milan, Italy, which sells a variety of spirits, wines and soft drinks.
The Read/Write blog, which ran the article about the Hotel Campari campaign, talked with Niccolò Magnani from the Italian office of MRM Worldwide (who ran the Campari campaign) about its results. Niccolò him that the Hotel Campari website got 170,000 views – 13 percent of it from the social networking sites, which all prominently feature a banner link to the site. The social network sites have more than 3,000 “friends” and 2,500 comments across the network. The number of views across the social network sites is currently around 92,000.
My take on this: The sites use a fake personality, or if you are a marketer you might say that they feature a character that embodies the essence of the brand, but you would have to be an idiot to believe they are real. All of the sites have very clear references to Campari, but they don't come out and say, this is an advertising site for Campari. The campaign is “sex-sells” heavy, which I am not personally fond of, but it does reflect the character of the brand in general.
My feeling is that this is more of a branding exercise than a attempt to build relationships with a public. Still, I think that they could have been more upfront about their affiliation, for instance, the MySpace character could have been clear that “she” worked for Campari, it would add to the intrigue and explain why she so easily attended all of the fancy parties she mentions and from which she posts photos.
That said, I would love to hear what you think about this. Does it make you mad, do you like it, does it just not sit well in your stomach (like it doesn’t in mine)? Let me know.
Update: PR/Marketing bloggers B.L. Ochman and Mike Driehorst have both weighed in on this issue, BL says the sites make her uncomfortable, Mike says fake is fine as long as we know it is fake.