SMWNYC 2011 – Social Strategy Cage Match: Offense Vs. Defense

Description from the Social Media Week New York schedule event listing:

As social media marketing continues to evolve, we’re seeing shifts in the way brands approach the channel as well:

  • Some are playing defense – monitoring existing customer conversations in social media, responding to some and promoting others.
  • Other brands choose to play offense, giving employees and customers the tools that let them create new stories and spread the word.

Both approaches are valid parts of a social strategy, but which one yields better results?

Two teams of industry experts will battle it out to find out which social media strategy reigns supreme. Participate in our interactive debate featuring some of the heaviest hitters in the social media industry, and learn valuable tips for building out your own brand’s social strategy.


  • Brian Morrissey – Digital Editor, AdWeek  (moderator)
  • David Berkowitz – Senior Director of Emerging Media & Innovation, 360i  (offense)
  • Ian Schafer – CEO, Deep Focus (offense)
  • Ana Andjelic – Senior Planner, HUGE, Inc (defense).
  • Tom Ajello – Partner/Creative Director, POKE (defense)
  • Chapin Clark – SVP, Managing Director, R/GA (defense)
  • Mike Scheiner – Executive Vice President, Creative Director Integrated Branding and Digital, Porter Novelli (offense)
  • Jim Deters, President, Ascendant Technology (defense)
  • Mike Monello, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Campfire  (offense)

Event Recap:

I’m having trouble figure out on which day of the week this evening falls.  My calendar says Tuesday, but tonight’s royal rumble screams “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!”  Heavyweights from the leading digital agencies have gathered for a Social Strategy Cage Match.

David Berkowitz, the “Ultimate Dragon” (and Senior Director of emerging Media & Innovation at 360i), was raring to go, picking a fight with special guest King Kong Bundy.  King Kong Bundy, for his part, took out his frustration on the wordy moderator, Brian Morrissey, the new Editor-in-Chief at DIGIDAY.

The first case study regarded a television manufacturer that had a perception of poor quality (that may or may not have been accurate)

  • The offense had a two part strategy.  The first was to offer to replace the competing TV of naysayers with one of theirs.  The second was to set up a faux living room in a big box store and showcase the quality in a gaming competition
  • The defense wants to let people with poor quality TVs have their TVs replaced if they record a video of them smashing their old sets

King Kong Bundy wasn’t thrilled with the offense’s plan.  He ran across the floor to attack Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, pushing him out of his seat and onto a glass.  Berkowitz was clearly concerned about further attacks, as he brandished the broken glass as a makeshift weapon in case Bundy returned.

The second case regarded a high-end fashion brand that has introduced a low-price line that has gotten social media backlash from the customers of high-end lines.

  • The offense recommends widening the rift between the accessible and high-end lines.  They would move the high end web presence to a gated community
  • The defense believes that the line should embrace the low-price line and hold fashion shows in rural Walmart stores
  • Bundy offered another option, that the design should reach out to the naysayers and tell them “blow me!”

The third case study was the tragic case of the island of Agribar.  A new government is trying to rebuild tourism after a black eye from a violent populist uprising.

  • King Kong Bundy’s plan involved whiskey and hookers.  Sadly, this plan wasn’t discussed at length
  • The rest of the defense looked to focus on adventure and eco-tourism, and leverage a reality show connection.  The overall plan to to trickle out a lot of events in a short time to get buzz, and then backfill Google’s results to replace stories of populist revolutionaries mussing Anderson Cooper’s hair (hey, I didn’t make up the scenario, I’m just blogging about it!)
  • The offense looks to personalize the experience by showcasing the residents as tourists’ hosts.  Additionally, they want to incentive arts and film.  Finally, they want to leverage social gaming (offering exclusive island in Beachville and badges in Foursquare)

In wrapping up the session, the audience preferred the offense’s solution for each of the cases.  The moral of the day, however (besides never bringing a wrestler to a social media debate) was that you need both offense and defense to solve problems in social media.

Analysis and Commentary:

Nothing I can say can possibly explain this phenomenon…

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