With a recent "promoted video" campaign on YouTube, Cheerios has provided the latest cautionary tale on the risks associated with social media marketing.
Viewers who have searched for terms like "heart," "heart issues," and "heart problems" and then clicked one of the cereal brand's promoted video ads are taken to a dedicated channel with approximately 30 narrative-minded videos, most under a minute long. The first is called "Tennis" and features "Victoria H." from Chicago, IL as the narrator. Another, "Gardening," has "Paula" from Trinidad and Tobago.
While the videos (scroll down to view "Tennis") could be labeled branded content, Cheerios itself isn't mentioned in them. That hasn't stopped YouTube users from posting mocking and sometimes strange comments about the brand since the videos went live three months ago.
Some YouTube users who click the paid ad placement are likely reading some of the disparaging comments and becoming distracted from whatever power the videos have as branding vehicles. Of the approximately 13 comments made on the channel and video pages as of late yesterday, each one that addressed Cheerios or the videos directly was written in a negative tone.
Here is a pair of messages viewable on the channel page as of yesterday:
"WTF does the rain, pleasure and watering your plants have to do with Cherios>? NOTHING! They are just trying to get you to feel good about their product using techniques used in commercials."
"Over priced processed corporate food drenched in cow puss for breakfast - wow!"
YouTube spokesperson Chris Dale told ClicKZ in an e-mail that account holders for brand channels can delete comments and ban posters from forums, as well as disable comments altogether. Cheerios declined to comment for this article.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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