I don’t need your attitude, mr/s telstra bigpond marketing dude, I have my own.

For you nosy Americans and Brits – Telstra is Australia’s biggest telecommunications company. And one of the largest Australian companies, full stop. Sort of our version of British Telecom. Or Sprint I guess. Their broadband division is called BigPond. And *drum roll, and excited yelpings* they sent little ol’ me an email:

Dear BigPond® Member,

Are you social, belong to lots of networks and love being involved in online communities? We’re interested in listening to your ideas, feedback and suggestions to help shape the future of BigPond.

BigPond is hand-picking a group of people nationally to be part of an exciting new program – BigPond Pilots.

Just apply to be a BigPond Pilot (before 30 September 2007, unless extended) and you could be chosen to participate in a program where your opinions really matter.

Plus, by completing tasks, you could collect points to redeem for things like designer clothing, sunglasses, MP3 players, music, games, sport, movie downloads and more!

BigPond Pilots will run from August 2007 to August 2008. For full information and to find out how to apply to become a Pilot (you’ll need to be 18 years or over) click on the More Info tab below.

Kind regards,

The BigPond Team

So, as I am “social, belong to lots of networks and love being involved in online communities” and also 18 years and over (slightly), I trundled off to the :

Welcome to BigPond® Pilots – a group of individuals carefully selected from all over Australia to participate in word of mouth, online and other exciting activities for BigPond.

You could be selected to become one of the BigPond Pilots. We’re looking for natural communicators, who have a wide circle of family and friends and who are knowledgeable in the areas of sport, entertainment and technology. (You’ll also need to be an Australian resident 18 years or over.)

The BigPond Pilot program will run from 27 August 2007 to 27 August 2008 (with selection submissions accepted until 22 April 2008). If you’re selected, you can participate in the program until 27 August 2008 or longer if extended, subject to complying with the rules of the program. You can also choose to pull out whenever you want though. From time to time Pilots will receive tasks to complete, and points are allocated for each task successfully completed depending on what’s involved. The tasks will range from reviewing and giving feedback on BigPond products and content, passing it on to family and friends (so long as you know they would like to receive it!), to providing feedback on the program. Occasionally we will also ask you to help us with a survey.

You can choose to use your points to obtain great prizes once you have met the required points threshold for the particular prize. There will be a range of different prizes including BigPond music, games and movie downloads, discount vouchers at various retail outlets and a host of other great incentives! The prizes available may also change from time to time. Your points will be valid for as long as you are on the program.

To see if you have what it takes to become a BigPond Pilot, simply click on the link below and follow the instructions.

Wow! I can be part of a focus group, and y’know, send marketing stuff to my family and friends! w00t! go meh!!11!! And I can pull out at any time. I just hope I “have what it takes”. So lets follow the instructions:

The following questionnaire will help us see if you have what it takes. It’s not a popularity contest, however your ability to communicate is important. Your familiarity with technology, sport and entertainment is also relevant. You’ll also need to be an Australian resident 18 years or older. And sorry, if you’ve already completed the questionnaire once, you won’t be able to do it again.

I’m so nervous, my hand is shaking – what if they don’t choose me? What if they do? What if I fail to live up to their marketing plans? I need to stop and plan for this.

*********end sarcasm

People are starting to understand now why I presented at WebJam on the need for an unIndustry organisation to protect consumers and develop ethics around social networks. This sort of marketing ploy is fairly mild compared to what I’ve seen occur in some social networks. I wonder if, when the phone was first connected back in the year dot, and the first telesurveyers rang, if people ran around the house screaming “OMG, the telephone rang and a stranger asked me my opinion!” Sometimes I’m ashamed to call myself a marketing person. Well a marketing/technologist/IT/Telco/social networks/ethnographer person. 😛

I don’t see a Web 2.0 company in Australia trying this “fill in these forms and then we’ll decide if you are deemed worthy” – and Telstra/BigPond doesn’t have the love and respect to get away with this heavyhanded arrogant approach. It falls flat. But hey, I can swallow my pride for free stuff, and marketing crap like hats with sponsored logos on ’em. 🙂

Note to Telstra BigPond: my mum and dad used to try that “reverse psychology” thing on me and my sister. It never worked. Treat me like an adult and I’ll answer your surveys. And be grateful for the loyalty points. And I totally get the “barrier to entry” tactic. But the exclusive club privilege approach was heavy handed. Perhaps try saying “we’d like to invite you”, “we appreciate your opinion”, “we’d like to reward you with” and then “this offer is limited to only a select few”. Can you see the difference – exclusive club vs under paid navvy.