The risks in Social Media – Direct Line style

It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security with social media.

We’ve lured a world famous actor to come and be our ‘face’ and recreate the look of Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolfe.

We’ve produced a great series of TV ads with our new character ‘Mr Wolf’. They are genuinely different ads for the space in which Direct Line operate.

And then they throw it to the real wolves by using sponsored posts all over Facebook and their existing customers get hold of it.

Direct Line Harvey Keitel Mr Wolf. Social Media is more difficult to handle than you think













There are have been 224 comments in the first 14 hours and as far as I can see, every single one of them retells a story of how they have been badly treated by Direct Line or commenting on Harvey Keitel’s decision to work in the insurance market.

For me, this can be nothing but bad for the Direct Line brand. Assuming most people have 250 friends on Facebook, these negative comments have already been seen by at least 50,000 people with a negative endorsement. If you add the 223 shares, this problem could be much worse than it first looks.

Compare this to the number of views on YouTube (only 3,573 after eight days) and you can see that the negative power has been at least FIFTEEN times more effective at reaching people. It may have gone viral, but hardly the type of viral they were hoping for.

One week on and only 3,573 views for the Harvey Keitel ad on YouTube for Direct Line
One week on and only 3,573 views for the Harvey Keitel ad on YouTube for Direct Line

Social media is both friend and foe. If you open yourself up to comments and feedback on such a public platform you need to be 100% sure you can cope with the responses. The old adage of ‘never asking a question you don’t already know the answer to’ may have been a prudent way of thinking before they ran this campaign.

I suspect a few people in the team at Saatchi (who produced the campaign) will be getting an ear bashing for their decision to try and amplify the positive effect of their advertising spend by engaging with Facebook and REAL customers.


British Gas and their trite new identity

call me a cynic if you wish, but I am not a big fan of this rather smug new identity for British Gas. Here’s the old one.

Brirish Gas and their old and uncaring identity
British Gas and their old and uncaring identity

There’s not a lot wrong with this. It says what they do, or rather what they did. Their business has obviously diversified and they need to move away from their obvious reliance on fossil fuels and the harm they bring to our planet. So they’ve changed it to this.

British Gas who are now looking after our world for us

I don’t have a particular problem with the identity. It’s fine in fact. decent typo and a subtle shade of green has been snuck into the logo. Good work team.

But the strapline. ‘Looking after your world’. Behave.

What a bunch of trite shite.

How are they looking after our world, by dragging tons of gas out and burning it?

Straplines are always a difficult issue, but this one is on the verge of vomit inducing. If it was my job, i’d drop it and quit the pretence before everyone does an emperors new clothes as soon as they have an issue or heaven forbid an accident and they make the word a little bit worse for us.


I’ve just had it pointed out to me by my mate and long time Creative colleague Darren Fisk, quite how similar the new British Gas identity is to the Age UK identity.

Age UK brand - Is this where the designers of the British Gas logo found their inspiration??
Age UK brand – Is this where the designers of the British Gas logo found their inspiration?

If you look at the background to the brand that was designed by the fabulously named Kitcatt Nohr Digitas (it’s that sort of name that made me want to join the industry) and watch their intro video about how they developed the brand, you can see it’s built on real values, that matter. I think it’s worth watching Paul Kitcatt talking about it here (even though looking at the viewer numbers, no one else has actually bothered):