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Inside the industry and inside the agency

20 Apr 2010


by Chris Merriman

Cheryl Cole Sausage Roll Social Media Campaign

 “They” say that the forthcoming general election will be won or lost in the Blogsphere. Certainly, the evidence that Barack Obama’s victory was down to his tech awareness and tireless Tweeting is more than circumstantial. That’s not the purpose of this particular blog post, mind. The election is next month and I want to ensure that we (a) stay non-partisan and (b) can say “told you so” afterwards, rather than speculating.

This month, I find myself musing that familiar phrase that has entered our lexicon, namely the Facebook Campaign. It seems like rare these days that we can get through an entire news bulletin without the phrase “after a long fought Facebook campaign”, with all the authority of if William Shatner was asked to recite a paper by Professor Brian Cox.

I’ve always thought that Social Media is a “field leveller”. Suddenly the whole world has a voice. Whilst “the event” we’re not mentioning may be won or lost on blogs, the smaller battles, the ones that affect our every day lives, have moved to Facebook.

Whether it’s the Save BBC 6Music campaign, which so far, seems to have not only garnered nearly 200,000 fans, stemmed thousands to attend a protest and thousands more to complain to the BBC, or the inexplicable Can This Sausage Roll Get More Fans Than Cheryl Cole?, which seems to have captured  a Zeitgeist to the point where they are heading towards their second million followers, Facebook has become more than a Social Network. It’s a tool for democracy, of vox populi, of social change.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting the future of democracy to be MPs posting their views and voting based on the number of “Likes” – though it has given me an idea for a novel – but more that the fight for minority to be heard has been taken to the biggest family in the world.

“Great”, I hear you say, with one eyebrow quizzically raised. “But millions of squawking voices – does anyone listen?”. Of course they do. Let’s start with something that seems trivial but with massive repercussions beyond itself.

Remember the Christmas Number One last year? Unlike the umpteen previous ones, the top spot was held by a 20 year old rock-rap record by Rage Against The Machine. And why? Because a couple – Tracy & Jon Morter – set up a Facebook group.

*thinks* “Hmmmm.... this has more of a smack of the Sausage Roll/Cole page”.

Not at all. This was a protest. This was about Facebook orchestrating a campaign for change. For 500 years* the Christmas Number 1 had been dominated by tracks from Simon Cowell’s various “Guess The Winner - £1 a go” fairground sideshows. And people were getting bored of it. It was obvious (baaaa) that the (baaaa) record buying public would (baaaa) always go for the song that (baaaa) had been fed to them through primetime television.

The choice of “Killing In The Name” was perfect. With its refrain of “(Ahem) you – I won’t do what you tell me”, it screamed a message that the Cowell-tel was unwelcome and that music fans wanted a chart that represented taste, rather than passing fad.

The campaign was launched in under a month, and yet, come the glorious day, Joe Flibblebridges (can you remember his name?) was denied his Christmas Number 1. And Simon Cowell, in between bouts of sell flagellation over his “niavity” in not taking the vox populi seriously, had the front to tell the group members that they had robbed a little boy of his dream, whilst simultaneously offering The Mortons a job. (they declined, he got over it).

The point is, whether you believe that Social Networking is a beacon for modern times, or simply a covert tool used by The Illuminati to track our every waking moment, what’s beyond doubt is that it has brought a new layer of government to the world. The big stuff gets decided in parliament. The little things are subject to instant referendum on Facebook – and if that’s not proof of the power and versatility of the age we live in, then I don’t know what is.

Since I started writing this piece, we’ve had the first of the leadership debates has taken place and seem to have done a pretty good job of changing the landscape of the forthcoming General Election. So perhaps the internet is about the big things too. But more on that next month.


*give or take - my time perception is very poor

Voting on Social Media Networks



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26 Apr 2010  Adam A says
Already 150,000+ strong, the RATM fans are planning to get the Lib Dems into office:

26 Nov 2011  Flavia Durun says
Hi dude! I completely agree with your thoughts. I’ve just bookmarked it.

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