Character Blogs are a Complete Waste of Time

    April 18, 2005

I have been holding back on this for awhile, but it’s now time for me to unload. I’m sorry, but I believe character blogs are a complete waste.

Maybe this is why the infamous Captain Morgan Blog, as of tonight, as of now has been taken down. Jason Dowdell predicted this would happen. (Thanks to Jud Branam for letting me know it’s 404. Hopefully someone talked some sense into them and it won’t be back.)

Earlier this month I incorrectly called the Gourmet Station blog a fake blog. My readers criticized me in comments and it even sparked a broader debate. Ok, they are right. Maybe I went too far in calling a character blog a fake blog – but it’s darn close. And this does not change the fact that character blogs are a waste of time, server space and bandwidth. I am not alone here. Ask Hugh Macleod and Shel Israel what they think.

Character blogs are a waste of time because a character is not and never will be human – unless it’s Pinocchio. Jason even noted that the Captain, who blogged about basketball, couldn’t possibly play the sport. Ugh. A character blog is a giant missed opportunity to have real humans – whether they be employees, customers, or even distillers and bottlers – engaging in a real dialogue with consumers. I am all for using characters in TV commercials and even micro-sites, but having them blog is just a lame, lazy idea. In fact, it’s an insult to blogging and bloggers everywhere.

When you go to Walt Disney World and try to talk to Mickey Mouse, does he talk back? Uh, no. In fact, the guy in the suit (which I can tell you from having worked there is usually a woman) never engages in conversation. If Mickey did, I bet he would tell us what his real name is, how many kids stepped on his foot, how hot it is in the mouse suit and how he is dying to take a bio-break. Characters don’t talk in real life so there’s no reason why they should talk on a blog.

The Captain Morgan blog is just another example that shows how some advertisers just don’t get the blogosphere. They haven’t studied it enough to know that blogging is a conversation. It’s about being real and transparent. The good news is that if advertisers continue to play ignorant, the lionshare of corporate blog dollars will flow into the PR industry because we get it. I can sleep easier at night knowing that Captain Morgan and other characters are blogging.

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.