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A massive thank you to the post-#fail marketing crowd.

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Of all the hashtags social media users have embraced over the years, in marketing circles the classic #fail quickly took root and has refused to budge.

In just the few seconds since I started writing this piece, dozens of new posts crying #fail have been shared across the web.

Once upon a time, I was one of those people. In the early days of SlopeFillers, I wasn’t shy about calling people out, boldly declaring that the marketing they were doing was missing something that I in my infinite wisdom could see with the utmost clarity. Small brands, big brands, you name it.

I didn’t do it often, but I did it enough that people noticed. In my first conversation with Corey Ryan upon agreeing to join Ryan Solutions, he mentioned one such case with Jackson Hole I had published just a few days before.

But slowly I began to realize three simple things.

  • There’s almost no value in crying #fail, nobody benefits
  • In almost every case, I was proven wrong (including that Jackson Hole post)
  • It’s just not me

Yeah, it got me some clicks, but take basketball for example. When my opponent looks winded, I’m not belittling him, I’m giving him props for hustling down the floor while I cherry-picked on that last possession In my high jumping days when I was lucky enough to win a meet, I was always the first to give the runner up a high five or handshake.

So why, in the marketing world, was I kicking people when they were down?

The Change
One day, and it really did happen that quickly, I decided to change. I decided never to use the #fail hashtag again. That tweet above? That was actually the last time I used it to call something/someone out on Twitter, more than six and a half years ago.

Along the way, I went from no longer using to advocating for the opposite.

Last year, after a half-decade of participating in the Best/Worst article, I finally had to tell the SAM crew that I’d love to still be part of it but I had to call it quits on throwing people under the bus (more on that tomorrow).

For a few seasons I’d simply been vague with my inclusions (suggesting there may have been a “better way” to broad groups of people rather than pointing my finger at specific campaigns) but even that was too much.

Thank You
Today, I want to thank the people who have understood, accepted, and followed along. The people who have stopped shouting “#fail” and started to give each other pats on the back.

People like Brad Larsen giving Christian Knapp some kudos:

Or Dave giving Joe and team some props:

And maybe the best example of all, Loveland and A-Basin in their quest to be the first to open:

It’s not easy to bite your tongue when you see something that’s a bit of a head-scratcher, but heaven knows we’ve got enough things to worry about these days, belittling someone’s best efforts at marketing shouldn’t be one of them.

So, thanks. Thanks for giving high-fives instead of backhanded remarks. And thanks for joining me in the post-#fail era of marketing conversation.

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