The Nature of Marketing Revolution

An inevitable debate is taking place around the nature of the marketing. John Moore, at his excellent blog, Brand Autopsy, has been a recent party to the discussion. He offers this edited footage of David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG speaking at a recent AdAge clambake.

As I interpret this footage, Mr. Jones appears to be pissing on the whole customer generated marketing/social networking/web 2.0 clique. It’s not exactly what I would call withering, but as I interpret it, there are some substantive arguments offered. For those too lazy to read John’s post, here are the relevant bits from David’s speech to which John calls attention and my brief thoughts.

“Our industry cannot delegate the creation of brilliant ideas to consumers. That has to be our job.”

In general, I concur. However, there is always Ben’s 1%.

“What’s been quite a prevalent trend in the lazy agencies over the last two years is to go, ‘I know. Consumers can now create ideas so what we’ll do is get them to come up with the idea.’”

This is undoubtedly true, but I suggest that it derives from the fact that marketing firms are constituted for a kind of communication that is defined by the mass communication technologies of the last hundred and fifty years. Ubiquitous packet-switched networks with decent bandwidth to our homes can only encourage demand for conversation. Marketers are tooled to talk at a mass audience. This conversation stuff is new to marketers and because it seems to require something of an operational and cultural retooling, I imagine it will have to be forced on them by the market. They may try to include these initiatives in their campaigns, but until they make this constitutional shift, they will be hard pressed to create authentic conversations.

“If you look at and go play around on the ‘YouTubes’ and ‘MySpaces’ … well, there are a few entertaining things there but there is so much utter crap there. There are only so many times you can watch someone dance in a crazy way or mime badly to a song. And so firstly, consumers aren’t that brilliant at it and secondly, what they will do is not all that relevant.”

This would seem to be the other horn of Ben’s 1% rule. To wit: if 1% of your audience will contribute something profound and relevant, it follows that the other 99% will not. It does not follow, I submit, that the conversation is thus rendered useless, for reasons I’ve mentioned previously, but it does seem to suggest that so-called CGM is likely not any kind of panacea. It is a prediction of what I have the pretention of calling my model of what is going on with marketing that the “traditional marketers” and their tools really won’t go away, but they will have to learn what the new technology really means and that discovery will necessitate a fundamental change in the constitution and creative culture of the marketing firm.
Incidentally, the depths of my loathing for the name, “Integral Marketing” grows daily. How about: Humanization? Anthropic Communication? Yuck. Tribal Marketing? Nope. Really, help me out here.

5 thoughts on “The Nature of Marketing Revolution

  1. My, how David artfully dodges the revolutionary grievance CGM expresses against ad/mark: “Hey ‘professionals’, your so-called brilliant ideas are disappointing, and if mucking up marketing earns me my own Passat and yay high pile of blow, then let me have a turn at mucking it up.”
    Erm, “Charming”?

  2. Absolutely. No disrespect intended toward the general consensus (as much as I hate Top 40 radio), even if it’s fluffing the death wheeze of a once-clever campaign. But if anything, Real Men succeeded on its “everyman” appeal — which, I’d argue, required primarily the fundemental offering of CMG: the participation of the (slightly-more-involved) everyman.
    Or woman, before you get all huffy.

  3. Ad people suffer from the same affliction as their marketing people client counterparts: they assume people care. For the most part (maybe 99% of the time?), your average human doesn’t get THAT worked up about some new product release and they care even less about the ad announcing it. Last year I spoke at Washington University to the MBAs for some ad-fest they had during the Superbowl. Imagine telling a bunch of future marketing people that nobody cares (at least not that much) about what they do. At my old agency we had this client, Save-A-Lot, and the marketing director there always insisted that all TV spots be deadeningly informative and detailed…gleefully sacrificing any sort of humanizing aspect of the message for damn hard data. Because he thought (quite inaccurately) that people were either waiting for the next Save-A-Lot TV spot or would stop all other activity to pay attention to it.
    Granted, the only work this particular agency ever presented to them was total garbage.
    If someone creates a quasi TV spot for you for whatever reason, you’re lucky. If its good, then you’re supremely lucky. This doesn’t happen because marketers, PR folks, ad people and marketing departments scheme together to get people to be spontaneous and organic and unpredictable. You can’t “box & arrow” this stuff. That’s what so many agencies suffer from anyway; they’re so dreadfully afraid of anything new, innovative, creative or whatever that they’ll try to codify it ASAP. God forbid someone who works a loading dock has an idea better than some agency guy’s. It happens. Agencies will always exist, but those who get too contrived about what they do (either in terms of trying to get buyers to make the ads–woe the person who thought that was smart for the Chevy Tahoe–or trying to jam down the same 6 concepts for every TV spot, etc) will stagnate and die.
    Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is “integral marketing”? I don’t even know. Isn’t it all just basically bringing something to market anyway?

  4. Hey Brad,
    Agreed on the autistic companies thing. They always want to talk about their flux capacitors.
    Re: “Integral Marketing,” let’s see if I can nutshell it:

    1. A confluence of different issues (many of which are technological) are acting to render traditional marketing tactics increasingly less effective. Marketers are, in varying degrees, freaked out about this.
    2. The response to this changing landscape runs along a continuum. At one end are the traditional marketers who see new technologies as simply tools to be assimilated into the marketing kit. At the other end are the collective Customer-Generated/Word-Of-Mouth/Web-2.0 clique, the logical conclusion of whose position seems to be that the traditional marketing kit will be supplanted by a new customer-driven toolset.
    3. The unfortunately-named-and-therefore-badly-in-need-of-a-new-one, “Integral Marketing” is the suggestion that the future of marketing will be informed by a synthesis of the two above positions. It asserts that the “substrate” of the above continuum, as it were, is defined by the informal rules that govern human interactions within small groups. An understanding of how these informal rules are created and operate, and how they apply to the new marketing debate is the key to creating this synthesis.
    4. The simple goal of “Integral Marketing” is to get companies to behave more like people. Technologies that empower of necessity dampen other possibilities. The technologies that have empowered organizations to communicate to the masses, have dampened their ability to communicate authentically to individuals. New communications technologies are changing that, but few recognize or understand the nature of that change or know how to wield it.

    Not so much of a nutshell I suppose. Honestly, I’m still trying to find language to describe it in full. I’ve been slowly attempting to unwrap it in a series of blog posts. You can find the first one here.

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