OK, I’m not sure if this is an "old school" vs "new school" thing. But two things jumped out at me from today’s "Media in Canada" newsletter (a newsletter I both enjoy and am frustrated by on a regular basis).
First, Mike Welling, President of doug agency, wrote a letter to the editor of MiC, praising the Grand Prix win of "Evolution" from Dove. The campaign was certainly amazing, and Welling credits forward thinking leadership inside Unilever for getting that great creative launched. Now, I agree, the creative behind "Evolution" is wonderful, but there is no mention of the vital, essential role that social media played in it. If YouTube weren’t around; if fans weren’t able to blog it, would "Evolution" have been so successful?
Second, in the same issue of MiC, was the following ad (you’ll need to click on it to see it in its full size; the link to the landing page is below):
Clicking on it takes you to a video of a woman shopping for customers. Though if you follow Astral’s language, they’re not really "customers" but "items" to flash your ads at.
I admit it, when I saw this ad, it made me a little sick to my stomach. It goes against everything that New Media, Social Media, Word of Mouth all stand for. That we can partner with our customers, not harass them. We can co-create with them. We deliver something of value – they will spread the word.
This is the point that Welling fails to acknowledge as well. Yes, creative leadership is important, but it isn’t just about the creative.
I’m concerned that there is a divide happening in our industry: that some marketers simply view people as consumers, someone who, if we shout at large numbers of the "right ones" loud enough, they’ll purchase our stuff; and some marketers who are interested in creating something valuable and telling key influencers about it.
You, of course, know on which side of the chasm I place myself. I believe we have a symbiotic relationship with our customers … they are increasingly their own media, their own content, their own network, and they largely determine the success of campaigns like "Evolution". We cannot forget their role and we certainly shouldn’t minimize it.
How do you view your business’s relationship with your customers? Are you marketing "at" them or "with" them? Do you see a yawning chasm?