Intern-For-A-Day Series: Hack Is Wack … Is Wack

October 26, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the third post in the Fast Horse Experience Intern-For-A-Day program series.

Earlier posts are here and here.  Stay tuned for posts in this series on Tuesdays here on the Peepshow and on Facebook. The first group of interns-for-a-day will be coming to Fast Horse in early November.

We’re pleased to introduce the next talented young writer in the series, Chelsey Johnson:

Chelsey Johnson

Hailing from Duluth, Chelsey is self-proclaimed Diet Coke and pug enthusiast, as well as a PR student at the University of Minnesota. Set to graduate in spring 2011, Chelsey is also minoring in new media studies — and cultural studies & comparative literature.

Chelsey recently traveled to Paris, and the picture you see above is her at the top of the Eiffel Tower. You can find her on TwitterLinked in and her blog.

Now, the post that Chelsey submitted for the first open call in this program. You may want to cue up “Gin & Juice” on your iPod now.

Hack is Wack … is Wack

By Chelsey Johnson

Using a celebrity endorsement can be a really successful tool in achieving notoriety and media attention. However, in most cases, using a celebrity relevant to a product or service is a lot more effective in delivering a clear message than a completely random one.

For a reason unknown to me, Snoop Dogg is the new face of Norton’s antivirus software.

The campaign, called “Hack is Wack” is an interesting attempt at viral greatness. Users can create and upload a 2-minute rap song with an anti-cybercrime message – potentially a great idea, right? Uh, not so fast – here are a few things that greatly confuse me about this marketing campaign. Before you continue, check out the campaign’s site here.

A classic “chicken or the egg” situation

The odd combination of Snoop Dogg and antivirus software makes me wonder – did the celebrity endorsement come first, then the campaign idea? Or did Norton really want a rap star with an extensive crime history to sell its software? Research is inconclusive, but here are the far-fetched ties I was able to string together:

Supposedly this campaign is a play-off of the “Don’t Copy that Floppy” anti-copyright infringement campaign of 1992. (See video below. Now.) Other than the fact that there’s rapping and a cutesy rhyming title, “Hack is Wack” couldn’t be farther from “Don’t Copy that Floppy.” It really makes me think Snoop came first, then campaign; and tradition was the way Norton justified its disconnected celeb endorsement. I really wish they would’ve made something closer to that because it’s completely awesome in a bubble gum 90’s hip-hop, “Saved by the Bell” kind of way.

Obviously Norton is more interested in making a fun viral campaign than a serious one, so they should’ve stuck to something in a so-bad-it’s-good, ironically funny way (think Old Spice guy). That’s a lot more fresh and would sit better with a younger demographic (and perhaps go viral!?). After all, the hipster movement made ironic cool with millennials.

If only Snoop was accused of a cybercrime, too –

Snoop Dogg isn’t known for being a model citizen. In fact, he’s been accused and convicted of a number of serious crimes. That’s why Snoop doesn’t make me want to buy Norton software. Snoop won’t protect me; he’ll bust a cap in my ass! (I hear that’s what gangsters do?) Maybe if he was known to be an anti-crime advocate I would be more inclined to believe he actually cares about antivirus software and internet safety. (Methinks his publicist nudged him to do this to improve his image. He clearly is not invested in the project, see next section.)

Norton should’ve used a superhero or something; stereotypical images are the fastest and most accurate way to get a targeted message across. This campaign also would work if he had been convicted of cybercrime, then he could participate in a PSA style campaign a la Winona Ryder with that whole shoplifting thing.

If you weren’t aware of Snoop’s troubled past (and present) here’s an infographic I made to sort it all out (Editor’s note: !!). Tell me if his reputation connects you with anti-cybercrime software – (click to download full size)

The contest itself

Plain and simple: the contest isn’t creative enough to go viral. Gangster rap spoofs weren’t even funny at my high school talent show. Not to mention there’s a bit of a conflict of interest among perspective participants – the grand prize is to meet Snoop Dogg!(‘s management team) and for Snoop to rap on the winner’s song. (Can’t Snoop at least take a minute of his day to meet the contest winner!?) Because of this, the contest is no longer geared towards fans; rap star wannabes are definitely dominating the entry pool.

Why would a regular fan care to meet Snoop’s management team? Contest entries are being used for shameless amateur rapper self-promotion. I guarantee none of those people care about the cause; they just want the potential opportunity for Snoop Dogg to hear their stuff and to maybe get some demos out to his management team to pass on to label execs. However, regardless of intention, at least people are talking about the contest on a rap forum somewhere – always a silver lining somewhere right?

Kapital A promotes his album before his overproduced rap begins

Maybe I’m crazy, but I just don’t get it. Snoop is a poor front man for anti-virus software, the contest is stale, and the entries have become too produced and specialized based on the grand prize. This campaign has not gotten a lot of press and is far from being viral. I can’t even find any tweets with the official hashtag. Whoopsies. Better luck next time, Norton.

First Snoop photo credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images