A regular review of interesting cultural shifts & marketing developments as viewed through the collective lens of the Stancombe Research + Planning Team

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is the online community just a bunch of trolls?

GAP recently launched a re-designed logo, only to scrap it after some flaming criticism from the online community (mainly Facebook & Twitter)

Before going further, let us first define what 'Trolling' means within the context of online communities:

"Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it's the internet and, hey, you can."

Here is an example of some very sophisticated trolling (click here for link)...

According to www.theage.com.au, ...after seeing more than 2000 mostly negative comments on its Facebook page, management responded accordingly:

"We've been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back...So we've made the decision to do just that - we will bring it back across all channels."

I'm going to take the contrary position here and raise a few questions:
  • GAP is a billion dollar company that has been around for more than 40 years, why do 2,000 people on Facebook know better?
  • Assuming research was conducted (highly likely) with GAP's target audience, why are the views of 2,000 people on Facebook more important?
  • Being a company in a creative industry, why should GAP apologize for a logo they believed in?
It appears that once the media gets a whiff of some 'Facebook' or 'Twitter' momentum, they grab onto it to create a story that infers those comments represents the views of a much larger population.

But what if...those very people Facebooking and Twittering expressing their outrage don't have any real interest in the GAP brand (or a clue)? Does it really matter what they say?

If you were head of marketing at GAP, would you trust research results or Facebook fans?

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