So TV audiences decrease and fragment while Open Source values are spreading creating influential, vibrant communities. The question for brand marketers is how to interact with these new powerful consumer groups in ways that will win hearts and minds.
This is a more difficult question to answer because the new marketplace requires a view that is very different from the past.
To date marketing has been about command of the media and control of the message. Borrowing the language of war, marketeers have been used to launching campaigns, targeting consumers with brand collateral, adhering to strict rules of engagement (known as brand guidelines), under the guidance of personnel known as brand guardians. The results have been measured using analytical models based on TLAs like TVR and OTS. It’s been about secrecy and it’s been about driving consumer demand by bombarding their senses.
But the new marketplace doesn’t respond to this approach. It is made up of new more powerful consumers who use technology to switch off what they don’t want to see. In fact, not happy with filtering what they don’t like, Open Source communities are increasingly creating their own adverts and branded content.
George Masters is an American school teacher and a big fan of Apple’s iPod and at the end of 2004 he made a homemade advert for the iPod Mini. He then shared the viral film with an online community of Apple fans expecting nothing in return, other than a little credibility from his peers. In fact the film spread quickly and within a few days had been viewed more than 40,000 times by curious individuals. The quality of the ad was so good that many people presumed they were watching the output of a big ad agency.
More recently an even more advanced example of such content was created by a couple of advertising creatives in London in the shape of an advert for VW Polo. The advert used a suicide bomber to demonstrate the strength of the car. When released online the shocking advert was viewed by millions of people.
All of which can sound like total chaos to a marketing department run by command and control policies. VW’s reaction was to demand a public apology and call the lawyers, a course of action straight from the old school. In fact they demanded back the ‘source material’ from the makers of the ad.