Putting all your eggs in a Facebook basket. Modern thinking or madness?

Excuse my stupidity, but I must be missing something. Cillit Bang (Reckitt Benckiser) is launching its new ‘All in 1 Dish & Surface’ cleaning product exclusively on Facebook.

Well I guess it makes good social media gossip, and ticks the box ‘I’m in marketing and need to be seen to be doing something in the social media space, even if I’m not sure it’ll work’.

But looking at the numbers you have to ask, why?

On Facebook you’ll discover the legendary Barry Scott, Cillit Bang’s fictional spokesman, has gained a twin brother by the name of Harry. Well interesting use of the word ‘brother’ as Harry is black and Barry is white. Is this RB’s way of ticking the box marked ‘equality’? Some might find this patronising, I did.

Of course every brand has a pipe dream that it can shed expensive media and replace it with cheap social media (or PR) in the belief that consumers have nothing else to do in their life than talk to each other about toilet cleaner, slimming biscuits and female hygiene.

I wonder if these are the same people who bully ad agencies into do patronising ads featuring women talking around a kitchen table about their product – the ads most hated by women consumers (and part of the 89% of ads ignored and the 7% that are hated).

Both are based on a popular male misbelief, that because women like to talk to each other, if you throw a few promotions at them you can expect them to talk about you. As the real experts say, social media has to be earned, you can’t buy it or demand it.

Whereas some brands have managed to notch up some impressive numbers, you have to ask, who really has such a sad lonely life that they spend their evenings on a Facebook site dedicated to cleaning products? I think any therapist would identify them as great potential clients.

The fact we have over 300 brands in our personal portfolio would suggest that most of us have very little time to engage with more than a few, and common sense would suggest those brands we do Facebook will be the fun ones, those that say something about us or give us stuff.

Cillit Bang spends millions on TV reaching millions (which is officially still the most powerful selling media) so why would you limit yourself to a small Facebook site that has only 13,157 fans? At least Cadbury’s Whispa has 1.8m, Heinz Tomato Ketchup just over a million and Starbucks has over 28m (all worldwide numbers). By comparison, Ecover has 11,000 fans and I bet they are better engaged – good campaign too, “Feel Good Britain’.

Their latest poll has only 36 responses, though a previous one did manage 261 votes. Max likes I could see was 106.

I don’t doubt there is potential to use Facebook for some brands, but do the numbers first!

And lets be honest about fan numbers, they can so easily be hyped up theses days (or faked) – one big brand recently discovered that half their so called fans didn’t know they were fans but had been tricked through click buttons. And how many are really active?

Doing a few sums, the ad probably cost them £100k at least, which means they are spending around £8 a head per fan (except they won’t actually be talking to 13,000 people). That’s expensive.

The ‘F-commerce model’ (in theory) allows CB to interact intimately with their target market (can a cleaner have an intimate relationship with a housewife/husband?). And allows them almost instant feedback – looking at the site, the best instant feedback was “Where the f*** is Barry?”

The Facebook site allows consumers (suffering form Agoraphobia I guess) the chance to buy the product direct from the Facebook page.

It’s being backed up with a digital campaign across social media, using competitions and games to talk to its target audience (would be interested to know the profile they have for them). Researching the campaign a competition (on the Crazy Kitchen blog) popped up, ‘5 Cillit Bang Dish & Surface Automatic Dispenser & Refill’. Wow, 63 people have entered… wait a minute, actually that’s 22 people x 3 entries each… I told you to never trust number son the web. And almost all on the same day… umm?

Call me a cynic, but the fact they have made a 30 second commercial that runs on Facebook suggests they are ready to roll it out on TV once they’ve milked the F-commercial PR. Mark my words, they will need to if they want to sell this stuff because 13,000 fans ain’t a market, 8m TV viewers are.

  • Chris Arnold

    Facebook fans now 13,220