Ok, so this isn't exactly fresh news and has been reported in a number of places including the Wall Street Journal a few days back, but I just have to make this post critiquing Vonage's lame attempt at running a print ad campaign to highlight how they are champions of competition. Let's take a look at the almost always ridiculous Vonage press release:
- Vonage today launched a national grassroots communications campaign to educate and mobilize consumers about preserving the freedom to choose their phone service provider. The campaign, called "Free to Compete," will raise awareness of the importance of consumer choice.
- "We want to highlight the choice that Vonage offers to the public: a choice to receive great phone service at a great price," said Jeffrey Citron, Vonage's chairman, chief strategist and interim chief executive officer. "We think this issue warrants national attention because when competition is stifled, consumers literally pay the price. Vonage is the target today, but what other innovative companies might be next?"
First of all as Wikipedia points out: "A grassroots political movement is one driven by the constituents of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it is natural and spontaneous highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures." Some grassroots movement right? Plus, it is ridiculous to think that Vonage needs to point out the importance of consumer choice. So, let's see how important the community thinks of this grassroots movement:
- As you can see from the Alexa chart, their movement peaked back on April 26th which coincides with their ad campaign and now like their stock price is sliding down.
- As of right now they have two customer videos loaded and three email submissions on the site; these are probably all friends of their PR manager. Notice how the videos are professionally edited and how they look into the camera? That is really smooth looking consumer generated content isn't? Maryann looks like a professional actress...
- Their awesome CGC videos on YouTube have 732 and 3,240 views proving once again that just loading up commercials in YouTube is a worthless endeavor. What's even funnier is this real consumer generated content that shows up in the toolbar to the right of their videos (because it is related) ripping on Vonage. Of course this video has twice as many views.
- Their news and press section is completely lame
- There are a whopping 60 links according to Technorati
- I wonder how many people have actually signed their petition when you remove friends, family and agency testers..
So not only is this not a grassroots movement it looks like it is not resonating with people anywhere. Plus, as I noticed when I saw one of their wasteful ads in WSJ but GigaOM beat me to the punch with a post, they had their ads edited by the Wall Street Journal before they allowed it to run. The line removed was "Now, Verizon has chosen to attack Vonage in the courts. Why? Could it be all about the money?" As someone that has been dragged kicking and screaming into print campaigns, this garbage ad cost them at least $90K per page and to top it all off they were so quick to flush their marketing dollars down the drain, they couldn't even work in a day or two for WSJ approvals and re-edits.
Some grassroots movement huh? The money wasted on this could have gone to keeping someone's job until the company goes bankrupt or is bought by Sprint, or improving whatever is left of their service, or just trying to flow it to the bottom line to give any investors a little bit of a surprise bump in stock price. This just another desperate attempt by a company that is hopelessly lost and if I had to guess this is just their CEO trying to save face with investors...