Ruslan Kogan is once again making waves, this time writing an open letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg requesting he join the “selfie” bandwagon and use his latest product to do it.
To help hopeless Facebook and Instagram users, who too often take pictures of themselves at the gym, getting ready for a night on the town or even while commuting, Kogan has created the Zuckerberg Selfie Stick.
The gimmicky product could see Kogan capitalise on the self-obsession of social media users, although the stick looks too big for girls to fit in their purses on a night out.
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Kogan is well-known for making headlines, as just last week his online electronics business Kogan.com.au was issued a cease-and-desist letter after hosting a Click Frenzy sale, despite not being part of the official event.
But independent brand analyst Michel Hogan told SmartCompany his latest attempt to create brand awareness might not be so successful.
“Its success depends on if anyone takes notice. A gimmick of any kind is just another marketing campaign and the measure of its effectiveness is whether or not it gets people talking,” she says.
“In terms of brand awareness, the same rule applies, but awareness is only part of the game. Knowing who you are is one thing, but unless it translates into action (in Kogan’s case customers), the point of the gimmick is lost.”
Hogan says for a gimmick to really be effective, it needs to align with who the business is and what it stands for.
“Otherwise it generates awareness around something which has nothing to do with your brand,” she says.
“All awareness isn’t created equal and I’ve never believed in the old phrase ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’. I’m an outlier on this from a marketing standpoint, but gimmicks are lazy, they’re the lazy man’s tactic.”
Hogan says businesses which use gimmicks are looking for a “sugar hit”.
“It’s a quick hit, a buzz… rather than doing the hard work discovering what you can promise your customers.”
In Kogan’s letter to Mark Zuckerberg, he congratulates him on what he’s achieved, but says one of his greatest achievements, the creation of “the selfie” has been overlooked.
“You may not have been the first person to ever take one, but you have created the platform that has enabled them!” Kogan says in the letter.
“I’ve done a bit of Facebook stalking, and was horrified to see that you have posted a Facebook selfie yourself! That’s the equivalent of me not using a Kogan TV :). Zuck, it’s time to give the people what they want.”
Kogan also describes the selfie stick as “affordable and functional” resulting in “no more dropped phones because of jittery or slippery hand”.
He also argues his invention will be a “game changer”, producing more selfies, more interaction on social media and therefore more ads and revenue.
“You’ve got more celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna trying to steal your thunder. They want the world to think they are the Kings and Queens of selfies,” Kogan says.
“But we know that selfies would not exist if it weren’t for your entrepreneurial achievements.”
Hogan says Kogan has a relatively good track record of standing up for what it believes in, but this isn’t the right approach.
“They have a commitment to being cheap, but this is cheap in the wrong way. The whole thing is trying to ride the coat tails of someone else,” she says.
“The thinking is, here’s a high profile guy, if I can get him to do something for me I get reflected glory.”
Hogan says she’s cynical about gimmicks, and admits some people love them, but generally brands are better off constructing their marketing around something they stand for.
“Know what you stand for, understand it, and build it down through what you do and keep doing it. Surveys show the most powerful piece of marketing is word of mouth… this awareness is meaningful and the basis of a longer-term awareness,” she says.
If Zuckerberg doesn’t take to Kogan’s selfie stick, he’s set to rename it the “Kardashian Selfie Stick”.