History just repeated itself

· Other

Huawei and Booking.com just did what Apple and U2 did in 2014 with both resulting in a spectacular fail.

Or was it?

This week, Huawei allowed ads to be shown on the lockscreen of some of their phones without asking users. Five years ago, Apple gave a free U2 album to all iTunes users expecting a universal love-in for forcing music on them without asking.

Let's just say the backlash for lockscreen advertising has been, as it was then, severe and culminated in a climbdown.

Social media car crashes occur with tremendous regularity as companies experiment on what might work in mass engagement. Some of these car crashes are telegraphed well in advance while others are on the spur of the moment (Twitter has so many examples of these I've lost count especially when it comes to hashtag riding).

But social media, in the main, is free and mass. A mobile, laptop, desktop, tablet is personal and customisable.

The fact that advertising on a lockscreen even occurred to someone as sellable real estate is, to me at least, genius.

It's been in plain sight for billions of users for decades yet Huawei did it first (I might be wrong but in any case, the timing is extremely interesting) and maybe sold the space for advertising.

Now, the gauntlet has been thrown down and there's been a retreat but the conversation, the seed, the opportunity is now out there.

Lockscreen advertising is now either destined for the fail dustbin or will be modified by Huawei or others. The latter appeals because experimentation should never stop.

[The same is true for PR; a creative first to achieve results is risky even if there is tremendous upside. Yet without trying, creativity is throttled. There are occasions when it's necessary to breakout from the norm even if failure results because the learnings can be critical for future success.]

Maybe lockscreen advertising morphs into something more palatable and beneficial for the user, for example, if ads are accepted in exchange for cheaper contracts or devices.

We shall see.

Note: I do not work for Huawei or Booking.com. I do own an iPhone and I'm a U2 fan.