So I'm starting to think Agency.com may yet be able to salvage this whole Subway pitch fiasco. The way they handle the responses could
actually end up demonstrating their ability to be a good interactive
agency much more than a video ever could. After all, good internet
marketing is more than just creating websites and campaigns, it is also the ability to monitor
and evaluate what's being discussed about your brand and then respond to, feed
or facilitate those discussions. And they seem to be doing that,
using all the big public web tools. I think how they've responded could end up being their saving grace.
The video itself sucked, I think they have to admit that. But they've done some other smart and interesting things since then. As I mentioned in the previous post, they quickly launched a blog detailing the spread of their YouTube video, and both the good and the bad of the responses (plus other goodies like links to spoofs and downloadable stuff). I originally thought the blog came across as a bit desperate, but I'm starting to change my mind seeing that it's part of a bunch of stuff they're doing. They've done a flickr site with various images making fun of them. They've done a soundboard. They're monitoring web chatter: I've noticed from our traffic stats that someone from Agency.com read this blog and they are now keeping a del.icio.us tagged list of sites that mention the incident (the list is now at around 150). Also, on closer inspection the Wikipedia entry I mentioned in the last post looks like it was created by someone from Agency.com (even though they feign amazement at the entry on their blog - "Wikipedia??? If this doesn't say 'we roll big' what does?" - the entry was created by someone with the name WikiSubway who just joined Wikipedia last week - you do the math). It's all getting very self-referential, but credit where credit is due: they're recovering and starting to demonstrate that they might, in fact, know what they're doing.
How will it affect the pitch? Well, if I were them I'd go into the final presentation and say "OK, we admit the video was bad. We were trying to do something different and it was a bad error in judgement. But look at how we rolled with the responses, dealt with them in real time, applied multiple solutions, and capitalized on the whole thing. And that's what makes a good agency." Of course, saying that would take some humility (rather than saying "oh yeah, we planned this all along") but I think that it would be powerful.
It might not be enough to make up for how awful the video was, or potentially pissing off the client, but at least it would be something.
UPDATE: I took another look at our traffic stats and it looks like this post made the rounds at Agency.com this afternoon - at least 16 people there read it - so maybe we're onto something. Or maybe this is the only post that was nice to them. But hey, if you guys use some of our advice, maybe you can shoot us a couple of free subs or something.