Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Multi-level marketing and the Camry Effect

Let's make a confession right off the bat. When I refer to "multi-level marketing," I'm using it in a slightly different way from how it's normally used.

I think.

I had a rather busy blogging Saturday. After a post on parking lots, I vented about the online advertising tactics used by Whole House FM Transmitter.

Then, after reading something in The Next Web, I wrote a post entitled Of course, the big boys can practice bad advertising also - see @CamryEffect. The point of this post, and the one that followed it, was that Toyota was doing bad things in the social media space. And that was the tenor of much of the conversation that Saturday afternoon, although I should note that I tweeted the following:

@jasonkeath agency behind camry effect promotion is saatchi & saatchi. not sure if they're also running the @camryeffect spammers

But this appeared to be academic, because a Toyota apology was posted on this blog and on several other blogs. The text, which I reproduced here, was signed by Kimberley Gardiner, the National Digital Marketing & Social Media Manager, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc.

However, all of the apologies were posted by someone named Shand Spencer. And if you nose around, you will find that Spencer works for Saatchi LA.

So does that mean that Gardiner was having Toyota take the fall for something that was actually done by Saatchi?

Maybe not, based upon a comment to The Next Web post by Colum Wood:

John E. Bredehoft My understanding (because I was contacted by them) is that Saatchi & Saatchi outsourced the task to a social media company called American Pop.

However, a Sami Haj-Assaad post at includes the following:

A representative of American Pop has contacted AutoGuide to distance itself from the campaign, however, with Gipson Bachman, the Director of Digital Strategy commenting that, “our company was not responsible for the tweets you received from Toyota’s efforts…”

American Pop, however, did play some role in the Camry Effect campaign. Or perhaps this February 2 tweet is mere coincidence:

So many Toyota Camry stories out there! ...

The American Pop website does not mention the Toyota campaign in any way, so it's hard to tell what American Pop did, or what Saatchi did, or what Toyota did. And Toyota isn't talking, since it would be bad form to say bad things about your partners.

And, for the record, American Pop wrote this back in 2010:

Respectfulness – Asking permission to engage ensures that you stay clear of spamming. This is not an issue with your established social profiles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as they are all opt-in. They are giving you permission to engage just by following you.

Note the phrase "by following you." So while American Pop may feel justified in sending tweets to people that are following them, it doesn't appear that American Pop would feel that unsolicited replies are "respectful."

So, at the end of the day, Toyota took the fall for the overeager tweeters, whoever they were. Because there were a number of companies that played some role in the Camry Effect campaign - Toyota itself, Saatchi LA, American Pop, Plus QA (who wasn't involved in tweets), and probably some others.

Oh, and by the way, the winner of the Camry Effect giveaway was Carrie O. of Indiana, Pennsylvania (pending verification of eligibility).

I couldn't find her on Twitter.
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