How Toby Rucksmith turned my RockMelt experience into a BrandMelt moment

I was hoping to write this post about a new browser called RockMelt. A few people in the office suggested I try it. RockMelt claim they are ...

10 Mar 2011 3047 Views

I was hoping to write this post about a new browser called RockMelt. A few people in the office suggested I try it. RockMelt claim they are “re-imagining the browser for the way people use the Web today”. Sounded promising. So I went to the RockMelt site and was prompted to watch the video. It didn’t make me want to download the browser but it did help me coin a new marketing term: BrandMelt. That’s when you have everything going for you (good buzz, good product, good packaging) and then blow it by ignoring brand basics.

 

 

The basic I’m talking about is authenticity. Not so important a couple of decades ago when brands were expected to be phony by default. But super important today when the information age has changed our view of brands and credibility.

 

The video stars a 20-something dude who says his name is Toby Rucksmith and he is a designer at RockMelt who just moved to San Francisco. I had also moved to San Francisco when I was his age so I was looking forward to his story. He then tells us about his new life in the Bay Area using all the neat features of the browser to animate his tale.

 

My first reaction was “Wow what a coincidence that their web designer is such a great communicator.”  You see, at that point I still had my RockMelt brand-buzz going. That lasted exactly eight more seconds. Toby pauses, then as soon as he is  is cued to pick up his lines again you find yourself saying “wait a minute, this guy’s not real, he’s an actor”.  Poof! Exit RockMelt stage left and enter BrandMelt. At this point I feel I have been duped. From that point on I am not impressed by Toby’s 90 year old grand dad, his buddies freezing their asses off in MN or the mock turtle races he finds so amusing because I know it’s all phony. All of this rubs off on the brand and the browser.

 

Back in the heyday of phony brands, it took a crew and lights and cameras and a big media budget to shoot and distribute a promotion video. So no one really expected the guy or gal on camera to be anything but an actor. Those days are gone. Home made video starring real people telling real stories is a staple in most people’s media diet today. YouTube claims 35 hours of video are uploaded every minute (that’s 50,400 hours of video uploaded a day). The point is that today when you make a video of someone sitting in your corporate office claiming to be an employee — it’s best if they are an employee.

 

Will any of this hurt their business? Maybe not, if the browser is all they claim it is. But it certainly doesn’t help. Especially since the whole brand’s position revolves around how plugged in they are to today’s web user. Add to that the questions that have been raised about privacy and I’d say they could use all the credibility they can get. In my case, their lack of authenticity drove someone away who arrived on the site wanting to be a brand fan.

 

Toby Rucksmith

 

I’m guessing the Toby story is loosely based on a story that was told to the ad agency as they were briefed on the assignment. I like the idea of story telling to demonstrate the browser. I also think they did a great job promoting it via Facebook. But be authentic. Have Toby start with “Hi, I’m supposed to be Toby Rucksmith, a designer who works here and has an incredibly interesting life story. The ad agency wanted to use a real designer but none of them had interesting lives, looked good on camera or were members of the Screen Actors Guild. Which is why I’m talking to you instead.” Or, better yet, get Toby’s namesake, Teddy Ruxpin to tell the story instead.

 

And Toby, if I am wrong and you are a designer at RockMelt consider this a compliment and start getting some voice talent gigs on the side. I looked for you on Facebook, Twitter and Google but found nothing except for some blog posts like this one mocking you and your turtle races and ultimately concluding “By now we realize there’s roughly zero chance Toby is a programmer, or from Minneapolis. So, why pretend? Why do it with such little grace? Why do it… at all? Way to go, creating a lot of “buzz” about a new doomed browser.”

 

For more info on the browser see what TechCrunch has to say.

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Sean Duffy | @brandranter
Speaker, consultant & founder of Duffy Agency, the flipped digital agency that provides accelerated growth to aspiring international brands.