Propel // Don't Believe the Hype

Picture 6 You may have noticed by now that I like to report whenever I click on a web ad, mainly because it's such a rare occurrence. This morning it was a little interactive number from Propel. I'm not a Propel drinker, but it caught my eye with the familiar icons from seemingly unaffiliated websites. So, over I go...

Quickly, it becomes apparent that the theory is that since Propel enhanced water enhances your life with electrolytes, the Propel brand can enhance your life in other ways by providing digital resources for things like health, organization, and travel. Not bad so far.

Then we get deeper into the site, where the execution starts to get shaky. Here's why:

- There are 16 sites included in the roundup of resources. If it seems presumptuous to think that from the millions of sites out there, even from the hundreds of sites that aren't complete crap I can pick the 16 you really need, it is.

- At least one of the sites no longer exists. It features a message dated July 8th that it went out of business.

- One of the sites is from AOL. I'm not really anti-AOL, but the brand would get a lot more credit for helping us discover resources that come from companies without multi-million-dollar ad budgets.

- In addition to the sites, there's a Digg-style news feed. Why not just include Digg?

I could go on, but I hope by now you get the picture. This is actually a decent idea, just very poorly executed.

In general, it suffers two major problems:
1. It doesn't teach us much about the Propel brand, other than the fact that it wants to be helpful. That, in itself, isn't a bad message, but at that level of engagement there was an opportunity to go quite a bit deeper. In this way, it's not brand focused enough.

2. It doesn't leverage the power of crowdsourcing. The real opportunity is not in giving out 16 links to click, but to create a community and discussion around enhanced lifestyles. They should encourage user submissions and peer review, highlight community members who contribute the most or exhibit the "most enhanced" behaviors. In this say, the site is not consumer focused enough.

Propel folks, you're almost on the right track. Next time, let us help you get it just right.