brands are like friends: some don't know their boundaries

so burger king launches the whopper sacrifice, where people can sacrifice 10 facebook friends in exchange for a free whopper. some love it, some hate it. i'm in the love camp because it taps into a great truth: the value of a "friend" has gone down significantly since it became a verb.

meanwhile, back on the subway...

i've been seeing (and rolling my eyes at) the new dentyne campaign. it encourages people to "go offline" and connect in person. the headline "send & receive" shows a couple hugging. "chatroom full" has two people nuzzling as well, etc. the ads are pretty benign overall. (benign = no new ground broken, but at least no one got hurt.) what strikes me every time i see them is this:

dentyne doesn't have a right to run this campaign.

as a brand, you need to earn the right to comment on how people should live their lives - online, offline, or... well, whatever other options there are. you need to not simply SAY you understand your audience's lives, but actually SHOW it. and BE PART of it.

burger king has - with great online efforts, video games, fun in-store experiences... burger king has become so much a part of their audience's lives, they can play with the whole notion of a friendship. they've earned it.

dentyne? they're still so interested in talking TO their audience, they never get around to speaking WITH. even their online effort drops the ball. because the campaign encourages people to get offline, the site has a timer that only lets you stay online for 3 minutes (really smart) unless... you're viewing their ads, in which case, the timer pauses. (forget that thing i said about really smart.) they've even resorted to leaving anonymous comments on blogs praising the campaign (note comment #3). what is this, 2008?

i suppose dentyne has to be that blatant and one-sided about their communication since they're in territory that's uncomfortable for the brand. of course, they could've gone a different route to get here:

like burger king, they could've earned it.

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