WOMMA MIA .. what happens when agencies try to create a framework for social media along the lines of Television ..

I have been following WOMMA(word of mouth marketing association), initially with some interest – but later with considerable scepticism.

Most notably of their desire to create a whole new lexicon for social media all starting with ‘W’ – ex WOM units(word of mouth) units; WOM episodes, WOMMY awards etc etc .. – to which I add my own WOMMA Mia! :)

A list of such ‘W’s is HERE(see pdf)

Despite talk of ethics, there is a dark side to this ..

It is an attempt to create a framework for ‘trading’ social media along the lines of television. (conversations are ‘episodes’ for example) with the hope that it will lead to smoke filled rooms for negotiating social media episode rights for advertising dollars.(and those ‘episodes’ are conversations between people like you and me!)

In other words, it attempts to create a framework / lexicon which suits advertisers BUT does not suit us(as individuals). I asked once before: The elephant in the room: Can agencies be a part Agency 2.0? and this would in turn create a role for the agencies in the social media space.

In contrast, networks like GLAM or FM publishing who originate from the social media space probably don’t need the agencies since they have their own social media networks and can bypass agencies directly.

Being a big fan of animation and cartoons, this addition of ‘W’ reminds me of a character called Elmer Fudd who replaces his Rs with Ws, so “Watch the road, Rabbit,” is replaced with “Watch the woad, wabbit!”

So, when I hear wommy awards, womm units wom episodes .. I think of this classic .. (listen to words like ‘Wabbit’, ‘waay’ etc etc)

So, to conclude:

I don’t have too high hopes for the WOMMA approach

I don’t see people using those terms(they suit Elmer fudd better!)

I don’t see what problem it solves for the customers

I see that it solves a problem for the agencies(aligning social media advertising with TV advertising)

But that means little to the rest of us ..

The reality for PR (with some excellent notable exceptions) is much closer to emails like this I receive below. This is a PR person from a public company … who thinks my blog is about ‘gardens’ :) ha ha! which means they have never seen it even once! I post the entire press release below to give them coverage for their repeated but misguided efforts :) (and they keep sending it to me a few times!) i.e. not a one off


Marshalls Make a Big Splash on

BBC TV Scotland’s Beechgrove Garden Programme

Leading UK hard landscaping manufacturing company Marshalls plc recently challenged Scotland’s premier TV garden show, Beechgrove Garden, to create a big splash to demonstrate the effectiveness of their domestic permeable paving.

To be aired on Wednesday 22nd July at 1930 hours on BBC1 Scotland (viewers south of the border digital channel 971), the step by step feature shows Marshalls installing one of its leading ranges of permeable paving, Drivesett Argent Priora. Then in a dramatic finish to the piece, the Beechgrove Garden team fill the bucket of a three ton dumper truck with water and tip it, all at once, on to the 40 square metre driveway.

This equates to approximately 1100 litres of water saturating the space, well in excess of a hundred year storm and all in just a few seconds!

Having only one chance to film the presenter’s true and honest reaction, Marshalls think it is fare to say the faces and images will say it all. Like magic, the water disappears as quickly as it appeared. Proving how simple and effective the Marshalls system is in times of light, heavy or even sustained rainfall and most importantly eliminating its run off in to our hard pressed drainage networks.

These kinds of volumes of water over large areas have now been recognised as contributing to the catastrophic flooding experienced in recent years throughout the UK in our urban areas. In fact, 95% of rainfall in built up areas finds its way quickly into the drainage system and adds to the risk of flooding in heavy downpours. This prompted the Government to introduce new Legislation (England & Wales Only) on developing a front garden area and why Beechgrove Garden asked Marshalls to demonstrate this innovative paving. The new legislation states:

‘The permitted development rights allowing householders to pave over their front garden for hardstanding without planning permission have changed. As of 1st October 2008 planning permission will be required to lay traditional impermeable driveways that allow uncontrolled runoff of rainwater from front gardens onto roads, because this can contribute to flooding and pollution of water courses. However, householders will not require planning permission if they use permeable paving, or have sufficient drainage or soak away to ensure run off from non-permeable surfaces does not go onto roads.’

Marshalls has a range of domestic permeable paving solutions that allow the infiltration of rainfall into the watercourse in a slow and measured way, as close as possible to the natural process of rain falling on undisturbed ground.

Tagged with the name of ‘Priora’ this paving is available in its leading block paving lines. The Priora blocks have a unique patented nib design around the outside of the block allowing water to disappear between the gaps it creates whilst still having all the proven qualities and robustness of a traditional Marshalls block paved driveway. These blocks are used in conjunction with specifically specified aggregates for the sub base. For additional hard standing Marshalls also has Grassgaurd, a permeable grass grid which allows grass to grow through it keeping a verdant outlook, but also more than capable of parking a car on.

However, the company does say, and it is recognised in the Legislation, that this kind of system is not suitable for all sites due to ground conditions – clay or heavy soil, where the land has a certain gradient which slopes towards the house, or even if it is below the water table. It also states the installation of a permeable driveway is not a DIY project, but a DIFM (Do it for Me) one. For the best advice Marshalls suggests speaking to an approved installer of permeable driveways.

Since the implementation of the Legislation Marshalls has trained over 315 companies throughout the UK (including Scotland) on its Register of Approved Landscape Contractors and Driveway Installers on how to fit its specific system. These independent companies abide by a strict code of conduct set by Marshalls and are regularly assessed on their quality of work. Details of an approved installer can be found at: www.marshalls.co.uk/transform.

This kind of commitment to quality, design and workmanship is expressed in Marshalls national Campaigning for ‘Better Landscapes’. A movement calling for both public and private bodies, as well as individuals, to seriously consider the societal and individual benefits of creating ‘better landscapes’ in our towns, cities, public spaces and our private gardens. The campaign urges us all to take positive action by engaging with the social, economic and environmental benefits and to make the purchasing decisions which deliver these benefits.

Beechgrove Garden is a Scottish gardening programme which sets out to deal with, glory in and celebrate Scottish horticulture and growing conditions. The programme is and always has been a firmly practical, get-your-hands-dirty programme and it proudly shows success, and learns from failures in the garden, and never takes itself too seriously.


Date: 17 June 2009

Notes to the Editor:

1. Marshalls plc is the UK’s leading manufacturer of superior natural stone and innovative concrete hard landscaping products, supplying the construction, home improvement and landscape markets. It provides the product ranges, design services, technical expertise, ideas and inspiration to transform gardens, drives and public and commercial landscapes.

2. Marshalls plc has one of its leading manufacturing facilities in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

3. Marshalls has a bespoke Display Centre at Transformer House, Tophill Entry, Falkirk, Stirlingshire, FK2 7LW where people can see Marshalls’ garden and driveway products in real life settings. The centre is open in the summer seven days a week Mon to Sat: 9.30am – 5.30 pm and Sunday 10.30am – 5.30pm. Winter 10.00am – 4.00pm.

4. Attached is high resolution image of an installed Marshalls permeable driveway using Drivesett Argent Priora.

For further Information please contact:




  1. Jay Donovan says:

    I am not sure I agree. I read the document and it seems to me that WOMMA is more or less trying to quantify something that has existed for a long time (Word of mouth exchanges). It looked harmless. I didn’t really see their efforts as trying to force advertising terminology on users as much as trying to quantify something that really was already in existence. No doubt there may be some opportunism in choice of titles and terms, but I have to admit they do make sense and add specificity.
    In any event, nice call out on bringing the concept to light for me. I would have never even thought to look at it from your POV, and it is important to keep an eye on things like this.

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    thanks Jay. Note that I think the rest of Womma is fine. Its just the creation of the terminology that I think is modelled on TV kind rgds Ajit