Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What a debacle, CU J-School! Please pay attention to your Student Ad Club.

Note: I first posted this at my "What Were They Thinking?" blog. I felt it belonged here as well.

Yesterday an odd e-mail came through with the subject: “AGENCY CONTEST: design our logo.” It was from the general e-mail adclub@Colorado.EDU, not an individual. There was no message and a pdf attachment. I threw it in the trash without opening the attachment (standard practice of e-mail safety these days).

Then the barrage hit. It turned out to be a spam “reachout” to 188 e-mail addresses (the e-mailer didn’t hide them) in the Denver-Boulder ad and PR professional community. When people are spammed they tend to hit “reply all” and say the “darnest” things. So, in the course of my day I had to back track and see what the heck was going on.

Back track I did and took at look at the pdf. Link here (if you want to save it in your “odd but true” file or read the following):

“we need your skills to design our logo

CUadclub is crowd-sourcing their logo to the best creatives in the front range and we are summoning your professional talent to brand our club. The winners’ design will be screenprinted on the front of our 2010 t-shirt and other schwag. The winners’ agency will be showcased on the back of the shirt and be awarded a shiny trophy.

Submit file of your submission to by Friday, March 19th for review. Logo should use only 2 colors and work on t-shirts and other branded items. Max of 3 designs submitted per office.”

So in the course of one rude spam attack, I learned:

1) Spamming is now fondly called crowdsourcing. Check that one out in your Wikipedia.

2) Student ad clubs and agencies that started years ago when these current students were being conceived (or before), somehow forgot that universities have Fine Arts departments with competent logo designers.

3) Contests no longer have rules (like who owns the submitted and winning designs or who’s judging the contest, etc.) -- the usual legal particulars.

4) Ad clubbers at CU seem to think that employed Denver area designers should jump at the chance to have their logo design printed on a college club T-shirt. Huh? What a rude disconnect between the university and the professional community.

Being a former university ad instructor and student ad agency advisor, I found this situation unusually interesting, so I tracked down an individual who claimed responsibility for the project (the club president). We e-mailed directly and I, of course, had to personally share some unsolicited "sage advice" last evening. I also found out, according to the club president, there's no faculty advisor/adult on duty for their club, and apparently CU lets these independent “clubs” run rouge these days (I guess in the spirit of Sarah Palin).

You’ll find “Advertising Club” on this list at the CU website labeled as an independent:

Then with further investigation, I found the University of Colorado ad club on Facebook and Twitter with yet another disconnect. Right now, given this could change with a photo upload, both have skylines of Seattle as their profile pictures:

Hey Denver ad people, good news, there’s definitely job security, with what we saw displayed yesterday at the university level.

What a debacle, CU J-School! Certainly not something to be proud of in my opinion.

Friday, February 19, 2010

APR's Maggie Holben Shares PR Perspective with ArgusLeader on YouTube Protests

Absolutely PR's Maggie Holben shared PR perspective yesterday with Thom Gabrukiewicz of the Sioux Falls ArgusLeader. Thoughts from Holben:

"And viral efforts such as this one can be disastrous for companies, especially in the age of instant information, said Maggie Holben, a public relations expert from Lakewood, Colo.

'That's what we fondly call a crisis,' she said of YouTube protests such as Hadrick's. 'You have to circle the wagons, you have to respond and you have to tell people who you are. Is there a trick remedy? No. It's honesty.'"

The YouTube protest involves a South Dakota rancher who takes issue with a Yellow Tail wine PR campaign that raises funds for the Humane Society of the United States. Details from Gabrukiewicz' report:

"My concern is with the Humane Society of the United States, which isn't connected at all with the dog and cat shelters in our local communities," the fifth-generation Vale rancher said Thursday. "This is an organization that's pushing a vegan agenda in this country, and that concerns me. That donation is going to go to efforts to try and put me out of business, and I'm just not going to support a company that does that."

Link to the ArgusLeader

Take a look at the YouTube protest: