Monday, February 1, 2010
I've worked in advertising almost since Eve sold the apple and have seen lots of changes. But nothing compares to the tidal wave causing fundamental realignments in the business now. That shift is caused by the only thing that ever causes marketers to change their behavior--consumer behavior.
Used to be brands told their story via broadcast but consumers are no longer willing to sit back in their Lazy Boys, content to take in a product story pipelined to them; they expect to be an active part of the narrative. Brand stories must be recrafted to allow for audience interaction and delivered in forms created and produced for whichever environment the audience prefers to receive it.
A few frontrunner brands are recognizing this shift in consumer psychology and recrafting their message accordingly, designing campaigns to provide immersive and participative experiences across a wide range of platforms.
Coke transformed a brilliant concept behind an award-winning TV commercial into a global media franchise with multiple revenue streams. BMW hired filmmakers like Ridley and Tony Scott to create short films that highlighted particular performance aspects of vehicles. Dove deconstructed media portrayal of beauty to relieve its target consumer of cultural baggage and further insinuate itself into her good graces. AMC's Mad Men raised the bar by actually getting fans to do their marketing for them. Not only did they permit fans to appropriate characters and create a twitter-based campaign, they launched a micro-site that resulted in the conversion of over 600,000 social media avatars to what are, in essence, ads for brand Mad Men.
Plenty of smart digital strategists are out there to advise on where and how and when to launch brand stories into the webiverse. But how to decide what those stories should be? How to make a story that's not only engaging but true to the brand's DNA? How to build a mythology that extends current marketing efforts? How, in other words, to do the creative?
Which is why I'm launching Brand Fiction Factory, in the company of other Mad Men on Twitter conspirators. It's a creative content provider for ad agencies, entertainment companies, brand managers and others seeking to use narrative in the digital space to maximize consumer engagement. The factory shop sign isn't spit and polished quite yet. But doors are open and we're open for business. Do drop by!