AKTIFMAG’s rookie Phil H goes out to get lunch but instead comes back with a social media shit-storm in a coffee cup and shows just how far you can take jerking around on the internet. Take it away, Phil:
Melbourne’s café and bar scene is full of pop-up and idea themed establishments that are basically the hipster equivalent of ‘Hooters’. As I was sat in one in the city I came up with an idea for the shittest sounding one ever- ‘Stencil Café’ which combined a cafe with street art. At Stencil you could choose from such sickening crap as:
‘A Banksy Bacon burger, Reka Roll, Giant Ginger Ale, Ha Hash Browns, Shepard Fairey Bread or simply a Percs pizza’
The only problem was I didn’t have access to a vomit and urine stained alleyway to house it. Instead I’d have to see how far I could take this shithouse concept for a café on the interwebs. I saw an empty shop in Fitzroy, which looked good enough for the location. I now needed a social media campaign and some hypothetical work for the walls. So I made a Facebook group figuring nobody would give me anything, but could get the Stencil name out there:
“Stencil is a new cafe opening on Brunswick St. It will be a Fitzroy institution with it themed around street art, street poster art and sticker Art! It will also featuring a street art themed menu that’s just as funky as the art and kick ass staff!It’s going to be massive for the area. We’re looking for funky street artists who want to put their work on the walls or even do some design work [we might even be able to sort out some paint or coffee for your troubles!]if you have what it takes to take your art from the streets to the Stencil…then get in touch! Staff positions will also be available soon”
Now, it was time to talk Stencil up. If I was going to Fitzroy then I must let give some PR info to the Fitzroy blog ‘Fitzroyalty’ which seems to pride itself on being a bit of a nasty pastie and whose gentler moments include having a picture of an adolescent girl smoking with the headline ‘I hope you get cancer and die a slow painful death’.
“I just wanted to touch base because I thought you might be interested to feature a new cafe we are opening up at the top of Brunswick St near the commission flats called ‘Stencil’. We believe it’s going to become a Fitzroy institution with it themed around street art and also featuring a menu that’s just as funky as the art that we’re going to be showcasing on the wall. Every now and then we’ll also have DJ’s spinning tunes, making it a place for Fitzroyalty to come and chill. It’s going to be massive for the area so it would be great for you write something on your blog about it! We’ll be able to sort you out with a free coffee card or something similar for your trouble.”
It was posted on the site but I then forgot about this shit café/idea/moronic piss take.
About 6 Months later I came across a post where the blog was irate that the café hadn’t yet opened:
I thought I’d respond via email:
“I just was emailed your article about Stencil ‘All PR’. I didn’t know you were in the habit of publishing personal emails, oh well you can say goodbye to your free coffee.”
That was published in the comments section. There was no choice but to ban them from the café.
The team here at Stencil have recently had a discussion about your article and poor behaviour regarding it. As a result of this we have decided to place a 6 month ban on you coming into the cafe when it opens up the road from the original planned location in just under a month’s time . However, you can work to over turn this ban with positive press on your blog. But as it stands it will be 6 months of not being allowed into the cafe or getting someone else to come in on your behalf so you can blog about it. Once the ban is up you are welcome to come in and PAY for your coffee or check out some of the fantastic artwork.
I trust this clears things up and I will notify you when the ban is up.
Phil and Christine
Stencil Cafe Team”
Things started to snowball. Some irate people went to the trouble of registering the Stencil Cafe email address for spam. Someone even set up a fake Stencil Café twitter account and was abusing people:
Stencil received some very, very limp threats:
It was then time to take it to the next level:
I have just looked at the site.
I think we both agree that this thing has gotten out of hand, and you being a local and us being a local business about to open our doors we need to sort it out for the benefit of everyone involved before it’s too late.
It’s important for both of us to keep our good names in the eyes of the community.
In hindsight I would’ve perhaps done things differently and am happy to admit that, and I’m sure you probably regret things as well. So, I apologise and I believe it would be in the interest of both parties to come up with a solution.
My suggestion is telling readers that the whole thing was a gag to get everyone talking about Fitzroyalty and just for readers to enjoy as a bit of different content on the site. We could then say that Stencil was kind enough to get in on the fun. If we say it was a viral type ad for Stencil and not content for you is people could still look on not only us but you badly as well, and that’s the last thing we’d want.
So in basic terms it would be like ‘Gotcha! Was just a fun idea me and the guys at Stencil cooked up for something different on the blog’.
This is a win win situation for all parties involved as it will make us both look good.
IMPORTANT! Obviously we would be willing to help you out financially for making a statement like this and are happy for you to discuss a rate, much like it would be as advertising on your site. Now I know you don’t accept free coffee! etc for a review but perhaps we could bend the money rules for this situation as it is very different. We’d of course make sure the money would be worth your while.
The only other solution is for both of us to blame a third party- whether it’s a gallery [few down Smith St] or another food place like Grilled Burgers etc or just someone anonymous and say that they pretended to be Stencil on your blog to make us look bad as they were a competitior. Personally I don’t think this is a great option, but it’s on the table if you’re happy with it.
I trust this will interest you and look forward to sorting it all out and if you have any ideas happy to hear them.
As I said, this is not a PR statement. It’s for you.
Phil and Christine
Stencil cafe team”
Then there was this poster:
Shit collectively hit the fan on the new post:
Stencil was told it needed social media lessons.
The social media ‘experts’ screamed ‘FAIL’ and some gave their advice:
The marketing ‘experts’ also had their say:
Twitter was busy:
Stencil’s staff were told ‘They sound like they’re from the suburbs’ and there were 100’s of comments, bitchiness, lulz and arguing about everything from free coffee to whether Stencil’s proposed practice of serving Coke in a Krylon can was safe and legal:
And the food bloggers claimed their kill and vowed never to visit the imaginary cafe:
Personally, I would’ve thought blogger’s journalist code of ethics would have been enforced to not to take advantage of people like Stencil’s naivety of the internet. Lucky I’m no journalist. Anyway, checking the comments the other day I saw this on the blog:
Well OK, there you go. Cheers, Phil.