Craftsman's Screw*d Series spoke to me, and was quite blunt
Last month, a co-worker sent along a link to Craftsman’s unique social media campaign, “Screw*d.” She summed up the campaign well by describing it as a “live feed of a guy building a cabin who accepts questions and suggestions via Facebook and Twitter.” The guy building the cabin is 29 year-old, Alan, who, complete with glasses, nasally voice, and suspect coordination, represents those of us who thought Craftsman had more to do with paper mache and glue sticks than power tools. Despite being about as handy as Paris Hilton, Alan is dropped off at remote locations and forced to complete tasks to survive. Of course, these tasks require home improvement skills, which he clearly doesn’t have. So, to build a raft to escape the bayou or repair a dune buggy and drive out of the desert, Alan calls upon the social media world for help, with viewers providing hints or instructions through tweets and Facebook posts. Now, he’s out in the cold, finishing up the cabin he built for shelter. I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to help the poor guy, but the last thing he had to do was install a doorbell. Not sure why. Although he didn’t need any help building the cabin, he did ask for suggestions on what to name it. Without a frame to assemble or a door to hinge, at least I could help him with this.
Eager to engage, I tweet the first thing that pops into my head, “Isosceles.” Hey, the triangle frame of the cabin had two equal sides; I thought it was clever. Ok…that justification doesn’t make me sound any less nerdy. Still, I watch in anticipation, hoping my suggestion will somehow resonate with the geeky “handyman.” Less than a minute after the tweet, I’m acknowledged. “Okay, this cabin still needs a name. Peter Saulitis says, 'Isosceles.'” He pauses, probably confirming that the triangle is indeed an isosceles and the name fits the dwelling nicely. “That’s not a good name.” Whoa! My suggestion may have been rash and nerdy, but that bad?! As if he had seen my eyebrows snap up and my fingers drop to the keyboard to launch a response, he says, “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Thinking that the suggested name sounded a lot like my own last name he continues, “that just sounds…promotional.” He didn’t hurt my feelings, well…maybe temporarily, but he actually made me laugh.
Though shut down, I just experienced and affected a real-time, interactive social media campaign, and I was thrilled. You may be thinking, so what? A guy online made fun of you, who cares? I do. I felt the same way I had after asking Knicks’ basketball star David Lee for his shorts during a game, and laughing with him as he pretended to untie his waistband. The joke provided a brief, but real human interaction; one you can’t get from an autograph or celebrity retweet. It’s the same type of social interaction I had with Alan, who treated my comment the same way I would expect one of my close friends to. Using social media, companies have been able to spark conversation between its customers, but not generate the same type of social interaction between company and consumer achieved by Craftsman’s “reality series.” For the first time, an ad campaign actually “spoke to me.” Alan had humorously responded to me and the story had changed, elevating me from consumer to co-writer. Advertising normally tells the story, but these social interactions constantly altered the script’s dynamic. Together, company and consumer told the story.
By the way, Alan ended up naming the cabin "Bear Bunker." And I got made fun of? Maybe I am still bitter.
- Peter Saulitis