(Aug. 18, 2008) — I was thrilled to read Society of the Plastics Industry President Bill Carteaux's request [SPI chief responds to campaign 'buzz,' Mailbag, July 7, Page 6] for feedback from the trenches about the SPI's Internet-based campaign.
The challenge to the campaign's success is not the breadth of the target audience or a mischaracterization of the effort as advertising. Mr. Carteaux's letter to Plastics News describes it as industry promotion. Using text and graphics for the presentation of promotional messages is defined as one form of advertising. If that basic concept is not understood and acknowledged, the challenge speaks for itself.
It's painful to say the SPI's Internet affair is far too little, far too late, and completely in the wrong direction.
Here's why: People have to want to visit a Web site in order to view it. It either has to be (in order of Internet popularity) a site promoting sex, gambling, social networking, news or buying stuff. For the last decade, there must be some kind of self-interest benefit delivered in return for visiting a Web site. Nobody is Googling for wonderful life of a plastic bag, facts about plastic bags or ten biggest reasons I love plastics. They are searching for plastic bag litter, plastic bag dangers and the cost of plastic bags.
A Web site is not an isolated communication medium. It has to be supported, marketed, promoted and advertised by other types of collateral advertising and promotion.
If SPI wants even a small hope for a meagerly successful Internet presence to promote the industry, it first must create a demand for search strings that deliver visitors to SPI's sites (along with reciprocal linking outside the industry), and then change consumer opinions and behavior.
If SPI just posits its Web presence is successful on the basis of page visits, it is being misled by its Internet site developer and it is misleading SPI members who think those Web site visitor numbers mean something important, in the context of changing public opinion about plastics. When SPI changes consumer and legislator preference away from banning and taxing plastic products, then SPI will have achieved something.
Since SPI and the chemical industry are not willing to use other media properly, just hoping the SPI site can draw people to a plastics site without heavy and continuous collateral online and conventional media marketing is too little effort far too late, and in the wrong direction.
Accordingly, I regret to acknowledge the Thin-Film Plastic Bag War is lost in consumers' eyes and legislators' ineptitudes. It's sort of a Spanish Inquisition, killing off those who will not shift their spiritual faith in sound science to the new Green Gods of Enviro Gobbledygook.
Other than that, I'm happy as a clam in a landfill.
Comad Management Group
The Villages, Fla.