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The ‘Internets’ Got Us!

The value of the Internet for propagation cannot be overstated. It’s why platforms like Facebook, Google and Pinterest that have captured the hearts of Billions of people command such huge valuations. And its why the rest of us look at industries that need disruption and jump in with web based services. We see the opportunity to reach the widest audience cheaply.

The Internet allows you to propagate at levels no other medium enabled us do before. It’s a great medium. Despite the concerns about privacy, information fraud, copyright infringement etc. We at Power2Switch pay attention to these things but we always see/saw the positives of the access the internet provides. Until this access came to bite us in the bum this weekend.

We’d been working on a viral video idea to increase our marketing presence with Brian Scalabrine, easily the most loved guy in the Bulls.

Photo by Alexa Hughes

The shoot went well and we were pretty happy with how the day turned out. Scalabrine was awesome to work with on a Sunday before the playoffs. Then came the editing of the film and I didn’t think it ‘worked’. It wasn’t funny enough or worthy of our brand. We got some feedback from a few ‘random’ folk and they confirmed our thoughts. So I nixed the idea. I believe in cutting losses quickly, learning from the mistakes and moving ahead. We still had some more of Scalabrini’s time so we felt we could get much better work done.

And then Friday happened. The ‘internet’ got us. I got an email from our PR partners that the video had leaked. Some guy from Canada had released it on YouTube. Right before our very eyes Slam Online (a top basketball site) picked it up. At this point it had ~230 views and I decided the Internet wasn’t going to latch on. I reported to YouTube that our copyright had been infringed and felt I had done all I needed to do. I went home and got on with some other work I had to do (I had some investor reports to complete).

And then CSN Chicago (the station that airs Bulls games) placed it on their homepage. Then Slam Online and a few other second tier basketball sites started to promote it. And then ‘Twitter’ got a hold of it. So the video I had nixed based on ‘gut’ and feedback from regular folk was trending. The exit of the Bulls from the Playoffs the night before meant people were starved for Bulls news and this, from a player they love, satisfied that craving. At the last check the video had ~28,740 views. And YouTube hadn’t taken it down. The internet that we always thought was working in our favor and would provide us a channel to provide transparency in the retail electricity industry had turned against us as people continue(d) to watch an illegally released video. The quality of traffic (i.e. traffic that can actually convert into customers) was horrible for us. It’s definitely not the Dollar Shave Club effect.

We’ll be issuing a press release to confirm it was leaked as Scalabrine’s crew hadn’t approved and we’ll wait for YouTube to take it down. In the meantime you can watch the video here or here, at least until it gets taken down. And we will wait to learn whatever lessons we are supposed to learn from this incident. As we always do.

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