Lessons from Mr. Splashy Pants

While writing by blog post “Markets are Conversations” , I found a very interesting presentation on TED. It is a story about an anti-whaling campaign which Green Peace tried to personify by having the public to name the humpback whales being tracked. Surprise!!! The most popular name was “Mr. Splashy Pants”, not exactly what Green Peace was hoping for. Still it worked in the end; the campaign successfully stopped the targeted whaling expedition. You can find out the rest of the story from the embedded video clip below.

What can we learn from Mr. Splashy Pants?

From the bottom up, not the top down. Social media is of the people, by the people and for the people. No company or institution owns it or can control it. “Mr. Splashy Pants” was not the kind of name Green Peace expected. Delay tactics to wait for more “thoughtful” cultural names to emerge did not work. “Mr. Splashy Pants” still won the naming contest by a wide margin; there was no close second place.

Level playing field. Done right, it costs little or nothing to mobilize people via the Internet. Social media empower users, making them collectively as powerful as, if not more so than, institutions.

OK to loosen up control. It is the end result, not the ability to command and control the media, that matters. Galvanizing people’s passion for the humpback whales so as to halt the targeted whaling expedition, not finding some thoughtful names (simply a means to some other end),  was the result that Green Peace was looking for. delivered that sought-after result.

Be genuine, honest and upfront. The name “Mr. Splashy Pants” won handily even if it was, from the standpoint of Green Peace, not culturally “meaningful”. Being genuine, it touched the people’s feeling at some personal level and stirred up the people’s passion for the humpback whales.