Memo to Brands: Surrender

Speaking of NetGens and two-way communications, Memo to Brands: Surrender:

“Empowered viewers armed with digital video recorders are zapping through Academy Award speeches, opening credits, and thousands of TV commercials — giggling all the way. And that is only the beginning of the end, says Laurie Coots, chief marketing officer at TBWAChiatDay.

Disruptive advertising is on the way out. And replacing the one-way conversation of pop-up ads and radio spots will be a marketing dialogue between brands and consumers that crosses every channel and grows over time.

'Consumers have all the power now, and they want more from a brand relationship,' says Coots, who contributed a chapter to Beyond Disruption: Changing the Rules In the Marketplace ( John Wiley & Sons, 2002 ). 'Consumers only allow a small repertoire of brands into their lives, and they want the relationships with those brands to be meaningful. The stakes are a lot higher for marketers now….'

It is no longer enough for a brand simply to request permission from a consumer. It must also grant permission — invite consumers to tamper, tinker, and communicate with the brand any way they wish. That 'requires the fundamental surrender of power from the company to the customer,' Coots writes. Marketers must relinquish control in order to perpetuate meaningful relationships.” [Fast Company]

Which is why the iPod is being hacked to new heights and Palm is losing market share. If you ever studied the most popular ads at Ad Critic (back in the day when it was a free site), they tended to be funny, outrageous, parodies, or include great music. In fact, that was the whole reason I used Ad Critic – to track down the music from various commercials. It was a great synergy between television, radio, and the music industry (when The Wiseguys' song Start the Commotion became a radio hit). Even without watching commercials on TV, friends could email you the link to a specific commercial and for the great ones (especially after a Super Bowl) and a meme was born.

But after finding the information about a particular song, the entertainment industry did nothing to help me purchase it. Instead of working with Ad Critic to build brands, build communities around brands, and sell the music, they let the site die (in its free version at least, since it's now been bought by Ad Age and will be a subscription-based service that only corporate entities will be able to afford). If they had partnered with the site to let me buy songs for $1 each I probably would have done it, even though that price is really too high for a digital music file.

While they mire themselves in copyright and lawsuits that alienate their core customer base, they're missing the opportunities to build brands, whether it's by label, artist, or genre. I know the Mitsubishi commercials, I even know the music in them, or at least I used to until Ad Critic shut down. They're fusing a great brand, but you don't see any of this on their web site. Imagine if they had a link on their front page to a site where you could view the commercials, sample the music, and then buy it. How great a partnership would that be with the music industry? Traffic for both, a loyal customer base that keeps coming back to the site, with a potential sales outcome at the end.

Then imagine if they took it one step further and let you mix the music on the site or create a compilation you could buy and download. Then imagine if they built a community around it where visitors could rate the compilations and have Friday night VJ (Virtual Jockey) parties. All of a sudden, Mitsubishi and the music companies would have a whole new customer base that actively participated in creating brand for their products.

My favorite quote from this article, though is this: “Trust is the new currency — and no one is buying.” That sums up the entire us versus them mentality that now dominates consumer interactions with the entertainment industry. For myself, I don't trust them anymore because they've proven their intentions that they want to work against me – not with me, and I'm taking my ball and going home. Their brands mean nothing to me now. [The Shifted Librarian]

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