I was going to comment on the UCC's move to buy blog ads -- I saw the story first at Philocrites.com -- and build off of my last post, but then Philo wrote about the UCC blog ads and thought I had better comment while the iron's hot. And I don't agree with his analysis. (But we also seem to disagree about what a blog is; see his "What's next for UU blogs?")
In short, for the UCC campaign: great idea, poor execution with a top-down, middle-brow outlook. And no capacity to build from the action apart from some name recognition.
First, I've thought the UCC ad a bit of a dowdy snore for more than a year. This ad should have had tighter production values and it wasn't positive enough. In short, I think the networks would have been justified to not air the spot just by contrasting it with other national spots, and would have been wiser to leave the political piece alone. (But they weren't, to the UCC's public benefit.)
Second, the very idea of national TV spots coming from an underfunded denomination -- if you're on a UCC mailing list, you'll have gotten an appeal to pay for it -- seems like bad stewardship. I thought the controversy was a Godsend from a financial POV.
Third, I think think it is not lastingly productive to morph this ad campaign -- who is its target demographic? -- into a blog campaign. Rather than going to the grassroots and appealing to hundreds bloggers from a broad social and ecumenical spectrum for a free ad -- I would have done it -- it was treated as another commercial opportunity. The fact that UCC bloggers came into it in the second round suggests the decision makers didn't reach to its own stakeholders. That can't be a good idea.
I would have run a campaign more like Firefox when it was going public. See SpreadFirefox.com. It enrolled evangelists and gave them simple tools to redirect their constituents to the prize: browser software, or in the UCC's case, the "banned ad" and perhaps other downloadable goodies. (A good portal opportunity for podcasting, too. Definition? See "What is podcasting?" at iPodder.org
And the UUA should run such a campaign. We have a large corps of bloggers and we should be seen and courted as a resource.
And as for making a news story out of SpongeBob, my mind reels back to the other great policy-fictional fracas of my lifetime: Dan Qualye denouncing Murphy Brown. Treating a fictional character like a real person invites ridicule.