terça-feira, outubro 28, 2008

THE RISE OF THE GRASS ROOTS MARKETING AGENCY

Leading quote from the article: “Content only works when it holds an invitation to the receiver to engage.”

Leading quote from the article: “It is too simple to say that this is the era of the Internet. It is far more true to say that this is the era of consumer control.”

Leading quote from the article: “In the earlier days you probably could buy the right to market by buying airspace and TV commercials. That, however is over in the era of the grass roots marketing agency.”



Josh Levine leads RebelIndustries, one of North America’s most sexy viral marketing agencies – with clients like T-Mobile, Warner Brothers, Dr. Pepper, Honda, Mazda and X-Box. It’s worth an interview for this magazine. “Better call us a grass roots marketing agency. That fits better in what we actually do.”

What is it that you actually do?

We bring companies down to the level of their customers. We go down to earth, ground level, so to speak. Normal advertising more or less pretends to do the same. But watch how they are behaving. Their advertisements are up on billboards, high above our heads. Or they give us airspace transmitted messages for radio and TV. They never are at ground level, so to speak. RebelIndustries specializes in one to one communication, in creating word of mouth between consumers. We search for cultural insights into the ways people are living their lives. Within this we find the soft spots that brands can plug into.

How does that work?

On a basic but vital level we integrate the brand into events that consumers participate in. We always do so in a way that the brand is really contributing to the experience, otherwise it is inauthentic. As a consequence we are always looking for content partners, people that have cool websites, or music or other creations that radiate the cultural values that our brands can sponsor, or facilitate or simply participate in. The fundamental idea is that brands these days have to deserve the attention of consumers and customers. They have to earn the right to market to the people. Therefore they have to invest into the cultural values of their audiences. In the earlier days you probably could buy the right to market by buying airspace and TV commercials. That, however is over in the era of the grass roots marketing agency.

I have the strong impression that youth worldwide is far more sensitive about who has the right to market them and how does not deserve to do so.

We are talking about the Computer Game generation right now. I think the further we get into them maturing, the more we have to deal with people in charge of their own experiences. This generation is not sitting passively in front of television. They are co-creating their own media experiences. That is their mental habitat. For an advertising and marketing industry that came to life in the television era this is a dramatic shift. It is too simple to say that this is the era of the Internet. It is far more true to say that this is the era of consumer control. The consumer/customer is in charge. That is the revolutionary issue we have learn to understand deeply. It is not enough to sponsor an event or to put your clip on YouTube and pray for the best. Content only works when it holds an invitation to the receiver to engage.

Who does it right, who does it wrong?

Don’t think in these terms, please. We are in the middle of a revolution. We all have to leave our comforts zones and muddle through. Having the guts to try something innovative deserves respect also when it fails. Having said this, I honestly thing that almost all old school marketers worldwide failed to understand the potential of MySpace. Hardly anybody grasped in time why a grown up person would waste time there, posting photos and so on. Only after critical mass set in, they all started building their MyPage, having missed out the early and best days.
Having said that, Cherry Coke recently had a fantastic MySpace program. They created an easy to use tool with which users could redesign their home page. These new home pages could be uploaded to a gallery where the community voted the winner. For one day the winner’s design was the official My Space home page. It was the most successful program MySpace ever run. Why did it work? It worked because a) the technology was easy to use, b) it used the MySpace habitat of community building and peer approval, c) it plugged into what people were already doing: interacting in front of their computers. It was authentic use of MySpace in favor of Cherry Coke.
On the flipside, T-Mobile had a campaign for one of their new multi phone – Sidekick. They invited users to submit videos about how their Sidekicks phones fit into their social lives. The winner got 10.000 dollars and the clip got shown on a famous late night show. It didn’t work however. Most people aren’t film makers. T-Mobile was asking of them that they got up from their computers, go find a video camera, think of something clever, record and edit that into a 2 minutes movie. This is T-Mobile asking to the user to stop what they are doing in their life and start focusing on the brand’s project. A bit too much and insufficiently authentic.

Some advises to marketing and marketing communication

1. Develop your guts to make mistakes. In America there is a tendency for smart people to feel that they always have to be right. To be successful today you need the opposite attitude. You have to experiment, to fail and learn. Try to be wrong, at least from time to time.
2. Find new ways to get into contact with your customers in order to learn from them. Yes, these Computer Game kids are more demanding but if you treat them right in the social media they live in, they often are willing to tell you much, very much.
3. Don’t ask people to do something they are not already doing. Don’t try to turn MySpace users into film makers. Find ways to plug into what they are already doing. Give them tool to improve that.
4. Invest in culture. The best brands have become part of the fabric of their consumer’s cultures. Red Bull, Nike, Apple are worldwide icons for this.
5. Think global in a new way. Brands that people like and pay attention to increasingly come from all around the world. If your consumers virtually search for inspiration without borders, your brand must make a serious effort to do the same.


Dr. Carl Rohde leads
www.scienceofthetime.com ,a virtual network of market and trend researchers worldwide. Besides that he is professor at the Fontys University School for Quality Concepts Development in The Netherlands.

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