I opened my email this morning and expected the usual. But I was completely charmed and blown away by a note I received from Markus Grupp. By day, Markus is a user experience design manager for one of our wireless carriers. But his avocation is creating guides to Toronto for your iPod. And the one he just released is an iPod guide to 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.
Called the Festival Scout, Markus’ app lets you look up films by date, programme, venue and director. It also gives you information about the venues, including subway times from one to another – essential if you’ve ever fested on a tight schedule!!
The Festival Scout is a perfect example of what a passionate customer will do if you free your data and make it available to your brand advocates. The app doesn’t compete with any of TIFF’s products: a mobile text app can’t replace the glory of the program guide and Markus isn’t charging for the app. And it’s a product that really meets a customer’s need in a just-in-time way. Also, if you’ve ever stood in line at the TIFF, you know that the only thing more plentiful than cameras are iPods.
Markus is also an excellent marketer … he’s posted a video guide on how to use the Festival Scout as well as pictures for bloggers to illustrate what we write about. And he’s included a link for lazy bloggers to help spread the word – an "Add to Del.icio.us" button.
This kind of application is the perfect example of what the future of marketing will be: creative, passionate brand advocates who take something ordinary that a brand offers (an online film schedule) and turn it into something extraordinary (Festival Scout – a mobile festival schedule). Plus, he gives back to the brand by promoting his app and the festival, plus teaches marketers a few tricks about how to "get social" with their message.
Why does this work? Because of the passion. I truly believe that brand advocates will always be more passionate than any brand manager. Markus’ passion is for two things: TIFF and mobile apps. His creativity has created something that no brand manager could. As marketers, we should support the Markus’ of our brands! Because at the end of the day, it enriches our offering and our customers’ experience.
So … what do you think? If you were the head of marketing for the Toronto International Film Festival would you be excited about this app or freaked out? Does your brand have any content or data they can make available to brand advocates for co-creation possibilities? What do you think about this whole approach?