Okay, not reeeally sure I get it that Ad Age have just named the Agency of the Year as ‘The consumer’ (I agree with Paul on this). They acknowledge that they ‘might end up looking derivative’, and yes, post-TIME person of the year, they have. ‘A portfolio of consumer-generated commercial content from last year’ they say ‘would easily trump any single agency’s offering’.
Whatever you think about that, it leads me handily onto a point I’ve been thinking about for a while. There’s an excellent post from Faris on redefining brands as socially constructed reality. It’s insufficient, he says, to describe a brand as collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer, but instead more accurate to view it as a collective perception. This better acknowledges the role everyone has in shaping what a brand becomes, and the far more significant role of social motivations, connections and interaction. Experience, communication and behaviour all help define a brand, but it’s that social interaction part of the equation which has really changed.
I wonder whether enough brands (and their guardians) have embraced this and are involving their consumers in the creative process. There will always be someone out there who can do a better job, find a funnier line, make the idea bigger. There are well-known examples of consumers being asked to create ads (Frito-Lay/superbowl, TBWA, and now Dove) but this is somewhat one-dimensional. So why aren’t there more deconstructed, unfinished, partially created ideas and treatments that are seeded out and left to propagate? Beta campaigns, if you like.
Faris and Jason have posted on Transmedia planning, based on an original thought by Henry Jenkins. This concept depends on ideas/experiences being seeded by different media and then using the power of social connections and relationships to proagate and perpetuate.
Creating that cultural currency around brands means widespread ownership of a campaign – everyone can own their own piece of brand idea, everyone can get involved, participate, add to it, make it something else, pass it on. Instead of seeking out brand advocates, make everyone an advocate.
At the ANA conference late last year, P & G CEO A.G. Lafley urged companies to ‘let go’ of their brands. Should agencies also be braver?