So somewhere on this site I’ve said that I’m willing to review products that are sent to me. This is for one major reason: I like getting free things. I am not at all ashamed of getting free things or being sent free things. If Apple wants to send me an iPad, I will review the fuck out of it. If the New Zealand Board of Tourism (or whatever they have. Presumably they have somebody who does tourism stuff) wants to buy me a trip to New Zealand to review, well, New Zealand, I am totally on board with that. I like getting things for free.
I mean, recently Torontoist was contacted by Kia Motors, who offered to send somebody to South Korea to review the new Kia Driveycar or whatever they made this year. Torontoist ultimately turned down the opportunity because they couldn’t find any reason the story was Toronto-related. I was all “but I’m from Toronto, surely that should count,” but ultimately journalistic integrity won the day because they are boring people with sticks up their asses who won’t let me go to South Korea to drive a car around a stunt track and do awesome skid turns. (I assume I would get the opportunity to drive the car around a stunt track and do skid turns. I mean, you got to figure Kia would want me to say nice things about them.) So you know I’m entirely willing to engage in the review process.
But I’ve got my limits. I say that right up front: I’m not going to be your marketing partner. If you want to send me something, that is awesome and I will review it in good faith and with an open mind. But guerrilla marketing is not something I engage in for anybody who is not me.1 If I get your product and I think it is shit, at best I will just not mention it on the site (and you’d have to be, like, really nice and send me homemade cookies because you’re so happy that I’m reviewing your thingy to get me to do that), and at worst I will say exactly how shit it is. That’s my line of integrity, right there.
Anyways. During my intense studytime, I was surprised to see this in my inbox:
This might be out of left field but I have a post idea I wanted to run by you. It’s quirky but something I think your readers might enjoy!
This opening is pretty common; I get a fair number of people who want me to post their Youtube or talk about their site. Sometimes I actually do it if I like whatever it is they’ve done. Not often, but sometimes.2
I want you to share your power anthem! Your anthem is an event or experience that changed you. It can be anything but I was thinking perhaps a wild night or a special event that changed you forever and left you feeling less than squeaky-clean. It can be anything so use your imagination. The point is, no matter what goes down AXE can fix you up.
Yes, that would be AXE as in “the crappy line of men’s beauty products.” People my age will remember that, when they were teenagers, Old Spice was the scent of desperate boys trying to get laid and who thought Old Spice would make them smell manly and intoxicating, rather than smelling like Old Spice. AXE is, more or less, this generation’s Old Spice, except instead of selling it with an aura of sophistication and dignity, they have gone with “we’re the brand for douchebags” as their selling point. Of course, AXE does reasonably well in the marketplace – or so I understand – so who am I to criticize them selling stuff to douchebags?
Of course, that is not the problem currently facing me right now; I don’t have to smell AXE. I am just reading an email and trying to figure out what the fuck this marketing campaign is supposed to be. As near as I can figure out, Marketing Person is asking me to take a bad experience and… use it to help them sell AXE. I don’t quite get this. “Hey, remember that time in your life when you were totally down in the dumps and feeling like a shitburger? We can use that to sell our product!” This makes no real sense as a marketing campaign to me.
And how is this a “power anthem,” anyway? I mean, when I think “power anthem,” I think something like this.
That is a power anthem. How does a bad time in my life have anything to do with Stan Bush? Stan Bush is all about the awesomest times in your very existence. Stan Bush is the radical kickflip that is your life. Sometimes, when I am depressed, I imagine what life would be like if I were Stan Bush, or maybe Rodimus Prime. Both are pretty much more excellent than anything you could possibly imagine.
Where was I? Oh, right. AXE. Okay, really, AXE is talking more about “hey, remember that time you partied so hard that you puked all over yourself and then you puked on your date and your date puked on the big guy and then the big guy puked on himself and he was so mad about the puke that he beat the shit out of you but that didn’t matter because you were already unconscious because you’d passed out because you’d partied so hard” variety of bad experience, the sort of Plan 9 From Outer Space or Manos: The Hands of Fate equivalent of so-bad-it’s-good experience. But these, too, are not power anthems. As was just cited, power anthems are so tubular that they force you to describe everything exclusively in parlance that either originated in the Eighties or was popularized at that time.
Confident your readers are interested in learning about your power anthem here’s what I hope you’ll be interested in doing:
First off, I’m pretty sure that if I stopped talking about comics which suck and/or rule that ninety percent of you would probably go find something else to read and most of the rest of you would only stick around in the hope of seeing El Tyrano Magnifico again.
But secondly, who the hell is interested in hearing about some distant-past emo dark time or pukefest in somebody else’s life? I mean, I don’t want to hear about emo dark times in the distant past from people I actually know and like in real life. (I’ll listen, of course, because that is what friends do, but I sure don’t look forward to it, and if you do you have issues.) And pukefests are all “you had to be there” things because we’ve all done it at one point or another and the minute details of the event are only funny to other people after the fact when you lie like a motherfucker and you’re all “oh man Stitz and Weasel and I we went out and we got so wasted that we stole police cruisers and we raced them through a stripmine and we each picked up a stripper then we drove the cars into the lake and the strippers drowned but it’s all good because they were also international drug dealers so the police gave us a medal and then we puked on the commissioner’s shoes, but he was totally cool about it and then he invited us upstairs and we got even more hammered on his private stash of Glenfiddich.”
But wait, what are they interested in me doing?
– Share your personal anthem on your blog
…I thought I was supposed to start off by doing that? What is up with you, Marketing Person? Do you expect me to tease this shit out? Like, on Monday i’ll be all “hey guys I’m going to have a total POWER ANTHEM post for you tomorrow” and then on Tuesday I go “sup guys, POWER ANTHEM is delayed until tomorrow, in the meantime here is a picture of Jughead eating a hamburger,” and then on Wednesday I drop the POWER ANTHEM post and it’s about how when I was in high school this one girl told me I’d never get laid because I was too weird,3 but that doesn’t matter because AXE products make me smell like a frathouse after it’s just been cleaned because everybody’s parents are visiting the next day.
* Encourage your readers to share their own anthems for a chance to win a Flip Camera from AXE. This way they can capture their next wild experience in real-time. Feel free to share the video link with them to better explain what an anthem is.
I am not sharing the video link with you. It’s about this guy who goes to a party and gets wasted, and then he goes to a motel and has kinky sex with a kinky girl, and then he has a shower with two hot chicks and then gets the crap kicked out of him, and in between he showers with AXE. If I showed you the video link, I am fairly sure I would be causing a spike in suicides.4
But besides that, they’re asking me to ask you to tell me about emofests or puke adventures. Who the hell does that? Do they even read this blog? We’re fucking nerds. Every story would have Stormtroopers in it.
* Get your readers talking and we’ll send you a basket of AXE shower gel line-up and 2 Flip Cameras – one for you and one for a lucky reader.
See, now I know one-third of you are totally going to be all “dammit MGK I wanted a Flip Camera,” but Flip Cameras are dogshit cameras for bad people, and I know that most of you are not bad people. But what really irks me is that AXE here is asking me not only to whore my blog out for a basket of shower gel I don’t like and a shitty-ass camera I won’t use, but they’re asking me to do it on contingency. Kia Motors was willing to fly me5 to motherfucking Korea in the hopes that I would say nice things about the Kia Driveycar but AXE isn’t willing to send me $500 worth of shitty phones and shitty shower gel unless I prove to them in advance that I will suck their marketing dick, and that I will do so to their satisfaction to boot.
Needless to say, I ignored the mail, because of all of the above and also because I thought passing Business Associations might be a good idea so that law school was not a complete waste of time. But then, a couple of days later, they sent me another email.
Just sending a quick follow up note to get your thoughts and feedback on the proposed blog post idea.
Dude. I hope you do not do online personal dating or anything like that, because when somebody ignores your initial post, it’s practically never because they missed it, no matter how many times you might tell yourself otherwise. It’s always for one simple reason: they are not that into you. Because you are in marketing for a career, this is probably even moreso the case. I was just going to be all “fuck it,” and just delete the email and move on, but then you had to bother me again. And this is what happens when you can’t let something go: you get mocked on a B-level nerdblog!
HOLY SHIT I DON’T BELIEVE THIS UPDATE: I was just checking my email as I am wont to do and Marketing Person emailed me again.
I just wanted to touch base one final time to see if there is any interest in this AXE sponsored story and FLIP camera giveaway.
This is after I just spent a thousand words or more trashing his marketing method, the product he’s trying to market, his idea for marketing that product, and Flip Cameras. I am just totally blown away, I really am. I mean, is he gonna keep going? Is this really the one final time he contacts me? Or next month is he going to suggest that I hold a “totally awesome” essay contest about how much you all love Crest toothpaste, and offer to send me a bucket of Crest plus two Razor phones, one for me and one for one of my readers?
- Coming soon: viral Youtube campaign designed to get me an articling position and/or a gig at Marvel! Actually, possibly both at once. [↩]
- And then, of course, there are the people who just want me to talk about Power Pack. [↩]
- This did not in fact happen. I am making a point. [↩]
- Or, alternately, you would band together to find the guy in the video and beat the shit out of him. [↩]
- Well, theoretically. [↩]