UPDATE: Michele from Soup has taken the time to address some of our feedback and concerns about the Panasonic Insider Crew in the comment section below. Check it out and be sure to leave your feedback!
On October 12, I was sent an email from Soup saying that I was accepted to the Panasonic Insider Crew. I filled out their application to join via Gizmodo a while back, hoping to win a Panasonic TV. Alas, I didn’t win the TV - but I did get an invite to this “exclusive” club.
This is great and I’m glad that Panasonic is getting regular people involved in their products. Unfortunately the way this Panasonic Insider Crew is being presented seems incongruent when compared to the actual campaign and its purpose.
Soup is a word of mouth marketing agency. I get that. That’s great. In my welcome email Soup claims very strongly and excitedly that my opinion (yes, my opinion and that of the other exclusive Insider Crew members) is important to Panasonic. I’m sure to an extent they do care about my opinion, as the opinion of a consumer. Maybe they even care about my opinion a little more than that of a regular consumer because through Soup they are giving me more fuel to write stuff about them in a public forum. But come on - I know you didn’t go to Soup and start this whole shindig to find out what your consumers think! You did it for marketing. I’ll bet Panasonic cares much more about how much I talk about it (I guess it’s succeeding right now?) as opposed to what my opinion is on their technology.
I know, this is one of those “Duh” moments. Of course it’s for marketing - but isn’t it great that they’re even doing this? Offering you this chance to join this super exclusive club? It isn’t that. My problem and what makes me feel uneasy is that Soup portray it as something different. Soup portray it as if this whole campaign is to find out my opinion and give me an inside look to report back to Panasonic when it’s not. The purpose of this campaign is to get me to talk. I guess it’s working.
To tell you the truth, I never expected the Panasonic Insider Crew to really be that “Insiderish”. I admit, I don’t know what percentage of applicants actually got accepted into the campaign so I could be way off here, but the way Soup talk about the Panasonic Insider Crew just gives me that uneasy feeling. What I see when I read their emails is “We want to make you think you’re so special, but really we just want you to promote Panasonic and talk about them and we think you’re too stupid to realise that so we’ll just keep pushing the word ‘exclusive’ down your throat." If they were just more honest and straightforward about their goals I totally would’ve gotten on board without feeling weird or kind of…well…used.
Also seeing as just last week I was emailed another invitation to take the Panasonic Insider Crew survey by mistake, it seems that they must have run out of special people to invite to their crew.
In that very first welcome email, do you know the first thing Soup tells you to do? Join the Panasonic Facebook page.
“Before you do anything, we suggest you join the Panasonic Facebook page. Head here to do that and click on the ‘Like’ button to get all the latest news and updates.”
Hm…why? What benefit is there for me in liking Panasonic’s Facebook page? How will this help my special Insider Crew status? All I have from you is an email talking about how exclusive this is and how special I am.
The Welcome Pack
What I did think was really cool is that Soup was going to send us a Panasonic Insider Crew welcome pack and (this is the cool bit) let us vote on what we wanted to receive in the pack.
The choices were USB stick, a USB hub (this got my vote), and I think there was another option but I can’t remember what it was. But again, this was made out to be so special and exclusive. Guys, go to any industry convention and you’ll probably find branded USB sticks being shoved down your throat from every booth. It’s great that you want to send us something! I appreciate that, really! And I can always use another storage device or more USB ports - it’s really cool that you’re doing that. But don’t make it sound like some super special, “exclusive” gift in your correspondence with me. It’s a USB stick (that’s what eventually got chosen). The welcome pack eventually got delayed by about a month, but I wasn’t fussed. I did receive it today! I was actually kind of excited about opening it. Inside I of course found my exclusive, super duper 2GB USB stick. Awesome! It actually looks like a key with the Insider Crew logo on it. It feels nice and solid when you pick it up. My only gripe with it is this: Those little metal flaps on the edges don’t look that durable in the long run and the little connectors are exposed. Will they bend if I sit on it? Will the connectors get damaged? Either way, I’m not fussed - the USB key is cute and not made of cheap plastic, so thanks, guys! It’ll definitely come in useful.
What else came in the welcome pack? Three sets of stickers (three sheets with three stickers on each one) promoting the Insider crew and a booklet about the history of Panasonic (which was pretty interesting).
There was also a letter, saying:
“It’s a bit of a token gift of course, but we thought you needed some gear to show off your Insider status…”
So…I guess they expect me to stick this on my car or fridge or something. Maybe hand them out to people? Maybe if I felt being part of the Panasonic Insider Crew was some accomplishment to be proud of, sure. Maybe after I actually got to participate in some of the promised upcoming events, yeah. Not when you’ve sent me a delayed USB stick and a few emails talking about how exclusive and awesome this entire thing is. Saying it’s awesome doesn’t make it awesome, especially when you exaggerate so much.
In the letter Panasonic also say that I’ll be invited to get involved in a number of projects, such as giving opinions and insights on different aspects of Panasonic TV. Now that’s awesome! Let me participate in some of these events and then we’ll talk!
They say they’ll be sending me “news and updates to share with my mates”. I hope I’m not on some weird mailing list to get sent “exclusive” advertising.
Not only this, but when I first got the email I Googled as much information as I could about the Panasonic Insider Crew. I found a page on a crowdsourcing site which seems to have since been removed (that or I can’t find it anymore) - a page wanting a logo for the Insider Crew created for a bit over $100 (from memory). There was some issue with an incomplete brief and questions about being asked to use aspects of the current Panasonic logo yet not being provided with the actual files to use. It just didn’t leave a very professional impression.
Show, don’t tell
Don’t get me wrong -** I think the idea of having a “Panasonic Insider Crew” is great.** I just think Soup went way overboard in pushing it as some special exclusive club and then trying to push me to Like Panasonic’s Facebook page and spread advertising to my friends in what I’m sure they thought was a subtle manner but really…well…seemed a little condescending. I’m not stupid and I am not going to say awesome stuff about you or spread your stickers because of a USB key and an email about how “exclusive” this is. **Invite me to some actual events, _show_ me how great this program is and that we’re actually going to be _doing_ something like reviews or previews of products and _then_ I’ll be more than happy to spread the word (in a more _positive_ way) as far and wide as I can!**
I wonder if this post is going to get me kicked out of the Panasonic Insider Crew. But hey, Soup does value honest and unbiased members, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it?