30 January 2007

He ain't gettin' on no plane for H&K or anyone, fool...

You might've missed this as it appeared in PRWeak's US edition, but have a look at the worst ever attempt at a viral video, knocked together by H&K for its client Hitachi Data Systems.

Well, ex-client that is, because - as PRWeak reports - HDS has decided to end its relationship with H&K. As Joe Paluska, director of H&K's technology practice put it: "We reached an impasse over an element of the company's digital strategy."

Steven Zivanic, HDS director of corporate communications was a little more direct when he said: "We need a partner that knows there is a difference between a corporate video with a man in a suit, and a viral video with an action star."

Actually, to be fair to H&K, this particular viral wasn't the sole reason that HDS ended the relationship...there were loads! Zivanic again: "There were more issues than a video. That quote is an understatement. There were multiple issues on multiple areas."

Paluska's biog quotes him as saying: "Our clients choose Hill & Knowlton because we can help them reinvent the way they communicate their technology agenda and then drive that message as far and as wide as they want to go."

Ain't that the truth!

That's all shocking enough, but according to PRWeak, H&K only won the business late last year and started working with HDS on December 1st. So, by my reckoning, that makes it about an eight week relationship (with Christmas in the middle!).



Anonymous said...

If PRWeak says they started on December 1st then it must be true. That's right isn't it? It's not likely that the mighty PRWeak ever gets muddled with dates and the like.

Anonymous said...

OK - its really sh*t. Actually, really really sh*t. However, presumably the client signed this off at various stages throughout the project. To turn around and fire the agency smacks of scapegoating, arse-covering and a failure to take responsibility for one's own decisions. (Such behaviour from a client? Surely not...)

Then again..... it is a staggeringly sh*t viral.

The Jiveman said...

That was everything wrong with B2B tech marketing jammed into one place. From the moment I saw the opening seconds I felt as uncomfortable as a BBFC censor forced to watch some kind of unspeakable granny based erotica.

It is far too long, tries to pack in more messages than an entire outbound call centre on ritalin into 3.5 minutes and is less amusing than a case of rickets. Think of the number of people that signed this off, the meetings, the post production...All should be ashamed. A viral needs to be a simple thing with the feeling of sharing a naughty joke, not whatever that was. At least I will save money on lunch today. And Mr. T looks very, very unwell.

Anonymous said...

let's face it virtualisation is a dull topic but at least H&K are trying to do something interesting and make it fun - ok so it might not be the best viral but at least it got everyone talking about virtualisation

Anonymous said...

Hang on a minute - isn't virtualisation quite dull... so to try and make it interesting takes a lot - at least H&K is trying to think of other things to do than just issue a press release - the principle behind it was a good idea - it just needed a little refinement - but how much of that would have come back from the client??

....the world's leading.... said...

But sometimes you shouldn't waste time and money trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, surely?

Communication needs to be appropriate if nothing else - and this effort isn't. Nor is it particularly creative and it certainly isn't funny. There are plenty of things they could have done more relevant to the subject matter and the target audience than
"just issue a press release"...I don't think this the de facto PR process, is it?

"Shall we do a press release?"
"No, they're dull and don't work."
"Oh, right. So it's the rubbish viral video then?"

Or maybe it does at H&K.

Someone will obviously turn up in a minute to say, "ah, yes, but you're all talking about it aren't you?" but they'll be missing the point. As I think we know by now, all publicity is not good publicity.

Pazman1973 said...

I reckon it works in getting across the key messages:

1: What virtualisation is
2: Why it's important
3: Where it should reside in the network and why
4: HDS does virtualisation

What I'm not sure it will achieve is any sort of kudos or impact outside the bedrooms of 18 year old YouTube addicts and older blokes with a A-Team fetish.

AND - the network controller looks suspiciously like Tommy from The Might Boosh...

Anonymous said...

I give kudos to H&K for spinning this as a breakup over a viral video -- it's deflected any real reason for their firing. HDS says themselves there are multiple reasons - and knowing personally the (under)performance and billing games they play, I give it to HDS for realising their mistake, cutting the cord quickly and moving on.

Anonymous said...

Related to the dispute is a Hitachi-made viral video featuring television actor Mr. T that was posted on YouTube Jan. 21. This is a quote from the PR Week story which highlights that H&k didn't make the video. This may be the reason that they had a difference in opinion if Hitachi create and are happy with stuff like that.

So don't blame the poor PR agency.

Anonymous said...

Hang on people, apologies if i'm being thick, but it states that it was a Hitachi made video.

Hitachi are super pleased with the results.

So why are we hammering H&K?

....the world's leading.... said...

It's a smelly old story, and no mistake...more than meets the eye, methinks. Perhaps, as this blog points out (http://prblog.typepad.com/strategic_public_relation/2007/01/pr_week_airs_cl.html) to break up after only two months says more about the HDS agency search process than H&K?

And though one Hitachi flack was "super pleased" with the video (which in itself questions their judgement) the comment from the director of corp. comms is still pretty damning.

All very odd.

Anonymous said...

I am thinking of getting the Goonies to do a school play about data storage for a client of mine, or maybe Magnum PI shooting it out with an IP backbone in Oxford Circus. Oh how high concept and creative we all are in the PR business.

....the world's leading.... said...

Quick, write that down...that Magnum PI idea's a stroke of pure genius. Magnum IP...brilliant! Can we get an ice cream in there too somehow?

Anonymous said...

i got plenty more post ironic 80's and 90's media cliches pouring out of my rubiks cube capped head whilst i sit here in my Airwolf T-Shirt in a creative department somewhere deep in soho. Who remembers Thundercats, they were soooooo cool....

Anonymous said...

If you are going to get a video on how great virtualisation is, at least get a customer to tell your other customers what they are getting out of it. Duller from a teenage geek point of view, but maybe what people actually want to hear?

Dress them in a Frankie says Virtualise T-shirt if you have to include an 80s cliche to meet the needs of the marketing department, but please ...

Fiona Blamey said...

It looks to me like the Corp Comms guy is also in favour of the video - he prefers 'a viral video with an action star' to 'a corporate video with a man in a suit'. Looks like H&K wanted to do a video with a man in a suit, while HDS wanted the Mr T clip.

I think the clip is a good effort, but as Jiveman said, it's just way too long and laboured. The BBC's Camberwick Green-themed viral trailer for series 2 of Life on Mars - which also capitalises on nostalgia among its target audience - is a good length, i.e. 19 seconds.

Mind you, it's a lot easier to persuade people to watch a telly programme than it is to persuade them to buy some storage virtualisation technology - and therein lies the challenge: should B2B tech companies use viral clips to explain and promote obscure technologies, or should they just use them for general brand awareness? I think probably the latter.