If there is ever a demonstration that social media can make or break a product--and why enterprises should wrap tools and training with CRM strategies to effectively tap this new channel via their contact centers as presents to themselves-- then a recent U.K. Facebook-organized campaign to deny the debut single from the recent winner of Simon Cowell's X Factor reality show the hallowed position of Britain's top Christmas pop song should be it.
Lyndsey Parker's Reality Rocks blog, carried on Yahoo!, reports that the song, a cover of Miley Cyrus's 'The Climb' sung by X Factor champion Joe McElderry has been beaten out by a 17-year-old Rage Against The Machine track, 'Killing In The Name' 500,000 copies sold, compared to 450,000. RATM fan Jon Morter instigated the drive in what the blog reported was "a protest effort to stop Simon Cowell's empire from dominating the music industry--since Simon is the main X Factor judge, and X Factor winner McElderry just signed to Simon's SyCo record label.
"Eventually some big-name rockers--including the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Sir Paul McCartney, and Rage's own Tom Morello--pledged their support to the campaign, the goal of which was to make RATM's 1992 political anthem "Killing In The Name" Britain's Christmas number one, instead of the expected X Factor single," says the blog. "For the first time in five years, an X Factor champion has not snagged Britain's coveted Christmas number one spot, thanks to Morter's Facebook campaign."
What makes the Facebook-driven move all the more interesting is that the RATM's song has a political bent and language that does not exactly offer the warm and cuddly ambiance that one expects for Christmas, or from Simon Cowell's pop music machine. That is unless one wants to become a more successful successor to the famed English icon, Guy Fawkes with the warmth coming from the ensuing firestorm.
McElderry could not have said it better, reports the blog: "Joe recently told British newspaper The Sun that he hated the RATM song, saying: "They can't be serious! I had no idea what it sounded like. It's dreadful and I hate it. How could anyone enjoy this? Can you imagine the grandmas hearing this over Christmas lunch? I wouldn't buy it. It's a nought out of 10 from me. Simon Cowell wouldn't like it. They wouldn't get through to Boot Camp on The X Factor--they're just shouting."
(OK, I confess I have a fondness for the Sex Pistols, the Dead Kennedys, DOA, The Clash, and Green Day, hired local punk bands for community fundraisers, one of my favorite movies is Repo Man, and I helped carry the student association banner to a massive protest at the legislature buildings against provincial restraint policies that we had hoped [alas!] would turn into a general strike, so you can see where my bias lies.)
Not that there has been any hard feelings from Simon Cowell, whose typically British calls-it-as-he-sees-it commentary, occasionally laced with sarcasm for those who deserve it both offends and thrills Americans, capturing their churchgoing/'shine-swilling/Puritan-and-pleasure dichotomy. Reports the blog:
"As for Simon Cowell's reaction, he is probably taking the news in stride, judging by a recent conversation he had with campaigner Morter. Morter told the British music paper NME that Simon personally phoned him the night before the chart numbers were released, to wish him well in this bizarre sales battle. "Simon was very sweet and it was lovely to talk to him," said Morter. "We had a good chat about music in general and just wished each other good luck. I've got total respect for him. That was a really nice thing to do."
Then again Mr. Cowell, as an extremely savvy businessperson, was more likely quick to recognize a smart campaign. A tip of the hat to the new order.
And that's the lesson with social media. If individuals can topple the best efforts of an industry giant like him--with the lovely touch of beating the musical equivalent of saccharine with Semtex--imagine what those who believe or dislike other products and firms can do if they can gain support for their campaigns via the social channel.