"These busted boomers," writes Constance Lavendar, "are clinging to an argument based on authority, hierarchy, and privilege; they
despise digital democracy because it threatens their existence, challenges their
authority, and breaks down their well-preserved hierarchy."
She is commenting on a post in the Chronicle, about The Cult of the Amateurargument by Andrew Keen in his book about how "experts" are more valuable than the chattering masses, and the internet is killing culture.
She could well have been commenting on Lord Maurice Saatchi's "Google Data Vs Human Nature" in The Financial Times in May. The core of his argument is in this sentence
"It is an inconvenient and stubborn fact that outside Newton’s universe,
where physical laws govern reality, the world is conditioned by
Attacking the predictive model of marketing is not different from dismissing the hoi polloi who are suddenly on equal footing with experts. The old guard wishes it --and wikipedia, and blogs, and the ability for non-agency folk to come up with hugely popular Diet Coke/mentos uncommercials-- were not so.
In a later column, Mr. Saatchi wrote:"Sometimes I feel as though I am standing at the graveside of a well-loved friend called advertising." You know he is troubled by this algorithm thing. It must be tough watching the digital natives over-run the place.
Harry Potter is an extended tale of no, not just wizards and magic
but the wisdom of the crowds in action. But that story got buried in
the hoopla around the launch of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows last Saturday.
Very predictably, the traditional news media covered the event in
the same way they did, say, the iPhone. Too much attention to people
queuing up for the book, the parties, the ‘education’ component, but
very little about the phenomenon itself.
The fact is, the Harry Potter franchise just doesn’t belong to J.K. Rowling
anymore. The books may be in 200 countries and 63 languages, but the
Potter brand goes beyond that geographic reach. It’s been open-sourced
in more ways than you could imagine; the wisdom of the Potter crowds
has always ruled when it comes to creating their own message channels,
cranking out their own Potter-esqe stories etc. Despite the fact that
this is a book, and not a digital product, the fans are all over the
social media map. There is:
* The Mugglecast podcast run by high school students, that has some 50,000 listeners a week, and features Elton John and Bono.
* The Leaky Cauldron leaks news about the books and carries a disclosure that it is in “no way affiliated with J.K. Rowling.”
* No shortage of Potter blogs, including one that suggests a Bollywood storyline for an Indian audience.
* The Harry Potter Fiction store, that’s not managed by Scholastic, the book publisher; it’s also “unofficial.”
* The Academy of Virtual Wizardry, at “Caledon Highlands” in you guessed it, Second Life!
I could go on…
So I wanted to track how the raving fans were behaving. I had a
haunch that there would be an equal outpouring of passion on Saturday
the 20th July around midnight not in front of the bookstores where the
TV crews were waiting in hoardes, but on Wikipedia. At 11.00 pm Pacific
Time the discussion (on the “comments” page of the Harry Potter Wikipedia showed
signs that things were heating up. The Wikipedians had been discussing
the value of locking down the Wiki, since everyone knew the book had
leaked and the plot was being discussed elsewhere.
“Just wait until the official release time. Then we can put
everything up in 5 minutes or so, considering the number of wikipedians
interested in this.” said one editor at 11.03 pm. This was clearly a hard core editor, but also a big Potter fan. “Most people, me included, will be too busy reading the book on Saturday to check the article.”
Others like him (or her) were unhappy that some editors had moved to
freeze the pages until a week after the launch. Fan passion was
expressed in the form of outrage that some newspapers’ reviewers had
created spoilers by discussing the plot before the launch. Reading
through their discussion gives you a glimpse of not just how these
unpaid wikipedians work, but how fans operate late at night, doing a
thankless job for what? To them this isn’t JK’s book. This is theirs.
If only other brands let their customers work their magic this way!
You've probably seen or heard stories about food marketers, supposedly scaling down their marketing to children. Great story, except they have a lot of wiggle room about what they plan to market, and how. Packaging is the one place they obviously won't give up, with boxes of cereal saying more about the characters like Shrek and Spiderman than the contents.
So while the Grocery Manufacturer's Association is busy debating the topic how to do the minimum and seem like its members are helping the consumer, it's good to take a look at another story about actually anticipating a target audience's needs and doing something about it.
Samsung has started installing charging stations for cell-phone and mobile accessory at Los Angeles International Airport. It sems so simple, that you wonder why carriers like Verizon or T-Mobile hadn't thought of it before. It's a great way for a brand to communicate that it understands what its customers (and all potential ones) face when traveling.
I often cover the daring, creative ways newspapers and print publications do to stay relevant. Usually it is about relevance to their core audience --readers.
But ever so often we see them create advertising environments that make you go wow! This is one of them. New York Magazine featured a double spread of two completely unrelated products, but designed (by their ad agency) to belong to a double spread, and stop a reader in his tracks.
There's a lesson in this: Being relevant to the reader also means being intensely relevant to the advertiser, and it takes a great publisher to encourage layouts like this. Of course, the idea probably came from the agency, but an advertiser and an agency will always gravitate to a medium that allows some flexibility.
So as you could see in this ad, the key was to use two products that are right for the demographic --in this case pearls with the Yogurt. The product on the right is a Greek Yogurt, Fage.
MediaPost reports that there's another ad involving a Tourneau watch, and the yogurt. I wonder if the advertiser on the left gets a better rate than Fage, since the yogurt company is essentially using the product on the left to make a point.
Yesterday, IABC's Phoenix chapter
put together a terrific meeting on something that's on everyone's
radar. I suspect the topic ("Using SEO & Other PR Tactics to
Communicate with Social Communities in a Web 2.0 World") was
intentionally long and geeky to make a point. More on this later.
had pried open the controversial but hot topic of Search Engine
Optimization (SEO) and Social Media. Whenever these two buzz phrases
occur in one sentence, advertising agencies, media relations people and
marketers get a little hot around the collar. I know, because I used to
work for a SEO-meets marketing company. There are lots of myths and
concerns out there. Just a year ago SEO seemed like a lot of pixie dust
before things like Twitter and User generated Content showed up. "Social bookmarking" sounded like something Paris Hilton does when thumbing through National Inquirer.
Unfortunately, the world inside corporate marketing is still looking
at what's unfolding before us as pixie dust 2.0. Look around you. The
world of marketing and PR is roughly divided into people who think "we
don't have a budget for this crap" and those who go "could we upload
this sucker to YouTube?" So it's about time we discuss Google Juice, and Digg, and the social media press release, and what in the world is Facebook up to, trying to upstage our beloved search engines.
Could people game the search engine, someone asked? Do "Diggs" mean
anything a few days after the story breaks? Was there some 'white-hat'
way to get better rankings on search results? Everyone probably knew
the answer to that last one. Sure, there are black-hat methods of
sneaking past the algorithm, and there's marketing.
You don't need to know how this algorithm thing works, but if you
accept the logic behind it, then you gotta work on it. Good case in
point: Southwest Airlines.
Three years ago, they optimized a press release by editing it based on
search terms they had been tracking. They tracked the results and saw a
direct correlation to a spike in sales. They won an award for this. It's a matter of crafting headlines and knowing where to drop in a hyperlink, and a meta tag.
Which brings me to the MarketWire topic. Google (or Yahoo) the words
"SEO PR social media" and see if IABC Phoenix is anywhere in sight. Now
Google (or Yahoo) the topic (Using SEO & Other PR Tactics to
Communicate with Social Communities in a Web 2.0 World) and see what
pops up at the top of your search results. Brilliant huh?
What's remarkable about this is that this is the "official release" of the album. Gives new meaning to the term 'Media Release' doesn't it? More shocking: The album won't go on sale in the UK! It will be launched in other parts of the world on July 24th, says the paper.
Prince has managed to annoy Sony BMG over this, but apart from his motives, it gives a new insight into how newspapers may be looking at marketing to stay relevant --and alive. A newspaper as a distribution mechanism for music? Brilliant. Think of the integrated online marketing possibilities.
A interesting note: The Mail didn't just tip the CDs into the paper. They produced the copies themselves.
If David Ogilvy was alive, I bet he'd have very cool blog. He'd have a podcast and rant about writing and pig-headed Creatives. And a Flickr account, for sure. More about David at the end of this post.
Why do I make this strange correlation between a dead adman and a new media-slash-social media company like Flickr? I got an email from Yahoo Photos yesterday informing me that they were porting my albums to Flickr, which as most of you know, is owned by Yahoo. They were all cheery about this, and I followed their prompt. Within ten minutes I had a response from
“The Flickreenos.” It started out with “Yee har! All your photos have
been imported from your Yahoo! Photos account…”
Before this were two other emails written by a seemingly highly caffeinated communicator (or very human one) in the tech department. Zero corporate-speak, almost like the buddy-talk we engage in on Facebook. Coming from a mega company like Flickr, that's now in eight countries, and has some 24 million visitors a month, I must say I was impressed.
It’s this kind of upbeat communication that I miss,
when someone sends me a legally-whetted, PR-sanctioned postcard or email these days,
with my name dropped into appropriate slots to personalize it and make
it look like they know me.
My point?Variable-data printing,
a sophisticated form of mail-merge is great, but should not be a
crutch. It should not replace genuine, passionate communication. I
don’t know where the good writers have been locked up in organizations these
days, but we don’t see a lot of Flickreenos-type communications.
Which brings me to Mr. Ogilvy. I was thumbing through my old copy of The Unpublished Ogilvy, and couldn't help noticing that this copywriter at heart sort of anticipated the Cluetrain idea, often asking people to spike their college-bred stilted communication and communicate like humans. He came out
with such gems as “Woolly people write woolly memos, woolly letters and
woolly speeches.” This was in the early eighties, when we all know, MBA-speak was all the rage! “Write the way you talk. Naturally,” he often said.
I could just hear the man who once wrote stunningly human copy for Mercedes Rolls-Royce go Yeeeee har! about Flickr’s un-woolly communication.
As an former Apple user still wearing an 'evangelist' badge in a PC world, I'm impressed with what PR and buzz --rather than advertising-- has achieved for a brand that graced Wired magazine ten years ago with just one word: "Pray."
So the prayers did work. Because what Apple's doing with the iPhone is not just entering the phone market. It's charging into the PC market. As Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg rightly observes this is computer with a service plan attached to it.
You've got to agree that it's a very expensive toy. But Apple knows its raving fans (or fan-boys) don't consider price. They're into that other P in marketing: passion. Is it Microsoft's time to start praying?