Perhaps the most fundamental event that marked the power of social media last year was the dethroning of Sim Cowell’s X-Factor by a Facebook campaign that put Rage Against The Machine in the Christmas No. 1 slot and beat the single released by the winner of the competition, Joe McElderry.
As it happens, I wrote the top case study on the event, in which I dissected the statistics and events leading up to Christmas to not only help us understand how it happened, but to get our heads around the two different mindsets that are in play against one another. The headline numbers were astounding:
- Reach of an average 13.9 million (peak 19 million) viewers, with over 50 hours of X-Factor programme consumption, purchased 450,000 copies of Joe McElderry’s single.
- Spreadability, of not even 1 million locked-in, sharing individuals, leads up who knows how many impressions, purchasing 500,000 copies of Rage’s single.
For me, this campaign demonstrated the power of spreadability and of a value approach over a volume approach, in as much as the volume of 13.9 million were beat by the value of under 1 million.
Now that Matt Cardle has won and is has released his single “When We Collide”, there are a dozen campaigns to beat this single to number one, but it seems the one with the most legs is a collaboration between a number of celebrities performing their own version of John Cage’s 4’33″, an avant-garde peice in which the record is just the recording of musicians silent in the room, thus being aptly named, “Cage Against The Machine.”
As it says on BBC Entertainment:
An anti-X Factor “supergroup” has recorded its entry in the race for this year’s Christmas number one – the sound of silence. Madness star Suggs and dance acts Orbital and Pendulum were among those who did nothing in a recording studio.
Dozens of musicians were present and the campaign – dubbed Cage Against the Machine – currently has 62,000 Facebook fans.
Guillemots frontman Fyfe Dangerfield, Unkle’s James Lavelle, Scroobius Pip and Dan Le Sac also took part in the unconventional session. They were joined by members of The Kooks and Heaven 17 at Dean Street Studios in London.
For me, this anti-campaign was a failure right from the beginning, and it just won’t work. Why you ask?
Why It Won’t Work
Despite Cage Against The Machine having far wider press circulation because it’s being run by professionals, it lacks the distinct spreadability that last years campaign had. I can see 5 reasons why:
- It’s a duplication of last year, not an innovation. Social is innovation and broadcast is duplication. Only a social campaign can beat the X-Facor like last year, and last year it was new. This year, however, it’s just a sad copycat. Even the name, “Cage Against The Machine” is desperately trying to hold onto the glory of last year.
- The throne has already been overturned. Last year people finally quenched years of frustration at the cookie cutter Christmas number ones the X-Factor was handing out. But that pent-up frustration was satisfied last year and there no longer exists the same passion and frustration sufficient to pull this off for a second year in a row.
- It’s just celebrity vs celebrity. Last year it was the people with rage vs the machine. A perfect fit between the uprising of disgruntled people with a band who also were contraband to mainstream entertainment. But now look at this years line up and all you find are, well, celebrities. And the campaign isn’t being pushed by the people, it’s by the industry. Rage Against The Machine weren’t even involved in last year’s attempt – they were just hapless bystanders who agreed to play a free gig if it got to number one.
- There’s no anthem. The words “F*** you I won’t do what you tell me” from last year’s single where pertinent and powerful. Every marketeer knows you need a mantra, a slogan, a vision statment, a raison d’être. But 4 and a half minutes of silence has not such power, and thus lacks any form of potency.
- It’s missing a figurehead. The figureheads last year were Rage and they were Jon Morter, the DJ who knows how to get backings and work community. This year I don’t have a clue who is doing what.
Your Leading Thoughts
- Do you agree? What else can you add the list of reasons why it won’t work? (Or do you have reasons why it will work?)
- Can you spot the fundamental difference between this and last years campaign?