Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roach Baiting 2.0

Social media is all about the conversation/engagement thanks to collaborative Web 2.0 tools. Consequently, social media gurus now advise us to find key individuals that have influence over potential buyers. They call it Influence Marketing. I call it Roach Baiting 2.0.

Read On:
I first learned about roach bait marketing back in 2003 when I read Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand – Salzman, Matathia and O’Reilly. They provided numerous case studies where agencies implemented undercover marketing movements by hiring actors/actresses, models or socially adept people to hype their clients’ products in targeted locations. Clever? Only if you do not get busted! A classic example was when Sony Ericsson hired actors/actresses in major cities to launch their new T68i cell phone that had the capability to take, send and receive pictures. In NYC, posed as tourists, they approached people in Times Square and asked them to take their pictures. Unfortunately Sony Ericsson went public with their campaign. The press had a field day bashing their strategy. One publication even reminded Sony Ericsson that Che Guevara once wrote: “A guerrilla campaign can only be effective if it is a clandestine operation and has the support of the people where it is being conducted.”

Fast forward to 2011. A great story staring Peter Shankman. His Twitter profile reads: My life: Consulting, angel investing, advising, speaking. Founded HARO. Ironman. I'm told I'm knowledgeable about social media.

Last month Peter boards an early morning flight from Newark to Tampa for a lunch meeting. On his return flight, Peter, a steak lover, fan of Morton’s steakhouse jokingly tweets: Hey @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks :-) Morton’s Hackensack (23.5 miles away from the Newark airport) answered the challenge and showed up with his order. Peter was shocked and started a tweeting tsunami. He got home and posted the story on his blog complete with pictures of his meal and his cat enjoying some small bites of porterhouse steak. How many cat lovers retweeted Peter’s picture of NASA the Wonder Cat? A great move by Morton’s? Absolutely! Especially since they were online listening and realized that Peter and NASA the Wonder Cat had a huge following on Twitter (100,000 plus followers). Welcome to the new world of Roach Baiting 2.0.

In closing, Morton’s if you are listening, I will be celebrating a special anniversary on October 23rd here in Philadelphia.


  1. Great Story. I didn't hear that one. Merci!
    On the other side: I've tweeted a number of companies about bad service: Dell and Sprint. Never heard anything back so all 140 students of mine heard about it that quarter. They told friends...etc. Students will still ask me if I ever heard from Sprint.

  2. Now THAT'S how social media works!!! Unless you want to believe Brian Solis:

    I just had a truly awful car dealership experience. My "salesperson" didn't seem to care, so I posted it on the dealer's Facebook page. Maybe it will get some action; maybe not. I thought about posting a ripoff report, but it wasn't so much a ripoff as just an all around terrible experience. Oh, City Auto Park Burlington County, in case you wondered.

  3. Interesting stories, but I'm not certain I follow your supposition that current Web 2.0 social media marketing is Roach baiting. However, there still is plenty of underhanded schemes out there. A recent example is the one with ConAgra having faux chefs in NY serve Stouffer's lasagna at an invitation only underground dinner event. Now THAT was truly "roach" and they were soundly criticized for it.

  4. I heard this several weeks ago. Very clever. for this to work though, you have to have some visibility as a marketing person. Morton's picked the right person to 'make happy' by bringing him the meal to the airport. It was clever on both parties. That is viral marketing at its best

  5. Reminiscent of "stooges" from the early 1900's. Song writers would hire someone to sit in the audience and when their newest song was performed, the "stooge" would stand up and cheer and clap and ask for the song to be sung again. This is not a new concept.

  6. So... how many years is it now?

  7. I think roach baiting is the norm in advertising, and we all fall for it. Car ads show an attractive couple in a convertible cruising down Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, and old bald guys like me see ourselves in the convertible with the beautiful girl, so we go out and buy one. Kids see other kids enjoying cereal, and they get mom to buy same. My messages sent from my IPhone tell you it comes from my IPhone. I conclude- all advertising is roach bait, aimed at attracting other critters to take a bite, no matter how deadly to your cashflow or credit card. We take the bait and take a bite.