Practice or Perish – Open source marketing for brands is here to stay


Bob Garfield writes:

If you can keep your eyelids propped open, you’ll have a chance here to consider the implications of TV commercials produced not by agencies, but by ordinary consumers. The stuff is out there already. More significantly, though, you’ll see how many functions of marketing research, R&D and advertising itself are being rendered obsolete by Web sites devoted to the merits, demerits and improvement of existing goods and services.

“The centralized model is essentially inside out,” says James Cherkoff, a London marketing consultant who penned an online manifesto on open-source marketing. “You create all the messages and you send them out. The new model is outside in: What you want to do is receive all the information you can from the outside and incorporate them in the processes of the company. They have to actually open up their own systems and the way they interface with the world.”

The interface can happen in all sorts of ways. Cherkoff cites a variety of ad efforts based on the inspiration of civilians. One was a General Electric online campaign called “Pen” (AtmosphereBBDO, New York), encouraging users to do simple line drawings and pass them along to friends — on a template with GE’s slogan “Imagination at Work.” Another, from Mercedes-Benz (Merkley & Partners, New York), asked Mercedes owners to send snapshots of themselves posing with their beloved cars, photos that became centerpieces for “LoveMercedes” ad portraits. And Converse (Butler Shine Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif.) solicited short films about Chuck Taylor canvas sneakers, viewable at

“We’re tired of the 20th-century model of being passive consumers of mass content,” says J.D. Lasica, author of Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation. “We’re transitioning to a new kind of culture. More participatory, more open, more interactive where the locus of control passes.”

“The inept marketers,” Godin says, “are the ones who fold their arms and insist that you listen to their story and tell your story the way they want it told. The package-good companies come up with a slogan about pearly white teeth or whatever and they say it over and over again and they make their ads kind of funny, so they think they’re clever. But the people aren’t listening.”

thro’ Adage

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