Branded utilities have so much potential; but if the “utility” part isn’t working out, it can actually do more harm for a brand than good. Next time I look for a drink recipe involving rum, I’ll be looking somewhere else.
Apparently, Bacardi’s online Mojito calculator doesn’t do anything (!) that it is actually supposed to do. It doesn’t print, it can’t email a friend; it can’t even tell you how much Bacardi stuff you need to buy for your party.
The nice thing about pull vs. push marketing is that the flash-over-substance stuff never gets very far, so it self-segregates some of the noise from the signal. (This post itself may seem to counter that last statement, since I am in fact discussing a broken pull marketing attempt; but I’m thinking of all the broken pull marketing attempts I’ve missed because, well… they were broken.)
If the mutual benefit proposition to your audience breaks on customer contact, it can be worse than having made no contact at all and end up damaging your brand. At least when the local car salesman yells at me through the radio in echotron-9000-robovoice, he didn’t make it personal by tricking me into opting-in first through a (comprehensively) failed promise of utility.
No campaign is perfect, but if you’re going to put a branded utility out in the market, use it first. Use it a lot.