Cell C : social media blunder or genius?!

Cell C recently made tsunami sized social media waves with their Trevor Noah social media campaign. The jist of which is that Trevor Noah, the South African comedian, wrote to his Twitter fans that Cell C was the worst network ever and that they needed to change their attitude or lose him as a client forever! Cell C CEO (the real CEO, Lars Reichelt) then placed a HUGE full page advert in the Sunday Times written directly to Trevor Noah asking for an open conversation as to how they can solve his problem.

Now from the outset, this seems like case study territory. This, wow, the CEO (the real one) of Cell C took the time to realise the power that is Trevor N……. I mean social media and respond to it, repairing the relationship and making Cell C a real social media powerhouse!

This was then followed by Trevor, seemingly, agreeing to be the face of Cell C’s social media campaign and within days (nay hours) you could not turn on the tv or the radio or drive down the street without seeing Trevor’s smiling mug as their new CEO (customer Experience Officer).  This was a onslaught of offline media driving hard at online, pushing people to go online and connect, to respond and to get involved in making Cell C the best cellular provider in the country.

Unfortunately the honesty and openness that is social media has been corrupt. Cell C staged the entire thing. Trevor was approached before the tweet went out! The domains were registered, the campaign planned, the logo changed (nice move that) and the (Im sure lucrative) deal with Trevor was signed and sealed.

Is this what social media has become..?

A place where large brands who have capital (read : cash) clout can monopolise the landsccape once more and write the story before we get to say if it is a story that we want to even read or not?! Are our delicate sensibilities yet again going to be plundered by large corporates?! (I’ll stop with the rhetorical questions now).

I personally believe that this is not the future of social media. This is an example of a large corporate who has based their social campaign on an offline strategy. Some say it is genius, others say it is ludicrous. Whatever your take on it, you have to admit it worked!  Whether it will have legs to continue being so prolific in the media and with consumers is another story which we will have to wait to find out.

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