Publicis' Hacked Twitter Video Is a Lesson on Inoculating Your Brand Against Satire

Last Updated Nov 17, 2010 9:26 AM EST

A YouTube video of Publicis (PUB) CEO Maurice Levy and his lieutenants, made to promote Publicis' Twitter stream, has already become a nice little case study in why you should inoculate your marketing against satire before you launch it. It's only been on YouTube two days and already some bright spark has reposted it along with some alternative, rather salty, dialog between Levy et al. (Video below.)
The original video shows Levy, Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts and others in their natural setting -- offices and conference rooms -- but all their dialog has been replaced by the sounds of birds twittering. It's a charming idea (a couple of staffers at the ad agency holding company gobble like turkeys, for instance) and, as we've seen before, Levy is a natural YouTube performer. But the problem with posting a video in which the dialogue is missing is that it tempts mischief-makers to add their own subtitles. It's a classic marketing mistake: Don't leave a void in your message into which a subversive can add an opposing interpretation.

In the hacked version, Levy greets Roberts with a hug and the subtitles say:

Come here you sexy beast. I want to smell you.
At the end of the video (which was posted by "Campaignmag," a moniker unlikely to be associated with the ad trade magazine of the same name) Levy asks Roberts:
Have you sent the receptionist a picture of your penis?
It's puerile, juvenile, and all the other "-iles" ... but try not laughing. Unless Publicis can persuade YouTube to execute one of its infamous copyright violation takedowns, the newer video could get more views than the original.

In this case, that might not be such a bad thing. Either Publicis wants to attract attention to its Twitter stream or it doesn't. The satire video will only help. Whether this helps Publicis attract clients, however, is another question.


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