Marketing Magazine Presents Marketing 2.0 Or What You Need To Know About Control

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Marketing Magazine introduced their new look and feel for the April 30th, 2007 edition. There have been many changes within the organization and it all culminated in this most recent issue, which features a new Editor (welcome Christopher Loudon), new size format and new slant on content.
The cover story titled, Marketing 2.0, starts off as follows:
“You’re no longer in control of your marketing messages. Your customer is more than just a target. The old ways you design and advertise products just don’t work anymore. Welcome to life in Marketing 2.0.”
Marketing 2.0 is a terrific read and I’m a huge fan of Marketing Magazine. I’m just not sure about that intro. I’m actually starting to believe that Marketers and Advertisers are using this whole, “the consumer is in control” as an excuse.
Marketers and Advertisers are more in control than ever before.
There I said it.
Marketers still decide which brands to put into the market, the message and the channels by which we’ll use to get our word out. Nothing has changed on that end. The consumer, who would either accept or reject that message (to buy or not to buy) and spread it by word of mouth, now has access to some of the same distribution channels and equal capability to have share of voice in those specific channels.
It’s a big deal. But it’s not the whole deal, and that about sums it up.
Consumers are not creating TV spots and running them on mainstream media. They’re not booking out-of-home media properties and populating them, and they’re certainly not running print ads for your brand.
They’re also not buying pay-per-click campaigns through Google, sending out mass emails or designing banners ad and running campaigns for you on Yahoo!.
So what are they doing?
They’re watching you. They’re talking with you (sometimes, just to you). They’re sharing what they like (and dislike) with a community of people who are like-minded. They’re taking the materials we Marketers have given them and are mashing it up. They’re either having fun with your brand or taking the piss out of it, but, they are not in control of it.
George Masters is the guy who created the now-famous homemade Apple iPod mini ad. He did not ask for permission. He created it, he published it to the Web and he watched it spread. If you watch the video close enough, you’ll note that the integrity of the brand – from the Apple logo to how the iPod mini looks – is intact. There’s no doubt in any consumers mind that this is an iPod Mini ad.
This does not put Masters in control of the Apple or iPod brand. He used it (and their likeness) to create his own message. What, exactly, was Masters’ controlling here? Apple controlled the brand and the message while Masters controlled his creative expression and his new-found ability to share his creativeness with the world by uploading it to the Web.
Let’s stop worrying about who is in control of our marketing messages and start worrying about how great and innovative the brands truly are in the marketplace. If we focus on producing great brands with great messages that resonate with consumers, we’ll worry a whole lot less about what “control” is, because we’ll all be too busy connecting to our consumers and creating more engaging brand experiences.
End of rant.


  1. Perhaps more accurate to say that you still have control of your message distribution channels, but the traditional channels of the past are tiny in number to the near infinite number of new channels you don’t have any control over – and on which your message can be spread, altered, and updated.
    The companies that will flourish the most will be the ones who share control – even just a little – with the consumers who are, like Masters, willing to take your brand and run with it. Instead of fight them, look to enlist their aid, and share with them the privilege of your brand (and perhaps even some of the revenue) and you’ll pull ahead of competitors still trying to exert total control over their message on channels they don’t own.

  2. They may be “tiny in number to the near infinite number of new channels,” but those traditional channels still carry the bulk of traffic and ability to get in front of the mass consumer.
    As bad as the Kryptonite bike lock being picked was, most consumers have never seen/heard of it. Trust me, I still use it in my presentations and the bulk of people have never seen it or heard of the incident.
    I agree with your second point about “sharing” – and that’s the Crux of this point. Control is not the issue because you can’t really share “control” – it’s something one side has over another, and I’m just starting to think that we’re all fixating on the wrong word.

  3. Hmmm you seem to have cited a company that already has a strong branding image. I think when the mashups occur and change the branding message, the effects will only be as much as how strong the company’s (Apple) branding is. Thoughts?

  4. Great point Holly.
    I don’t think we’re at the point now where consumers want to play with unknown or lesser-known brands.
    The mash-ups and new consumer creatives are effective and viral, specifically because they are brands that mass groups can relate to.
    Just my humble opinion.

  5. I agree Mitch, the statements are becoming conventional wisdom and need to be considered more critically. Advertisers have always needed to be creative and evolve with their customers – their habits, expectations and the current technologies they use. That’s not new.
    Marketing still means finding a way to stand out from the competition and building customer relationships from initial awareness to fierce brand loyalty. It is true that customers are more and more difficult to attract, retain and control.
    Good luck with the talent search. That also is not getting easier.

  6. Hi Mitch,
    Thanks for responding! I can definately see how for lesser brands consumers are not interested in creating derivative works…and for more stated brands it’s easier and honoring for your consumers to feel empowered to own it.
    I think Marketing is more about making your product/experience *relevant* to your target audience. I think in Marketing there’s a tendency to want to *stand out*, but I think we (myself included) need to think how we can be relevant which may or may not mean standing out… just my two cents 😉

  7. I think that the only reason that “we” are still in control is that “we” care a lot more than “they” (the consumer does). Make no mistake about it, there are still groups of consumers/users/citizens that are tenacious, vengeful, and unforgiving if you take wrong turn, and even though time will heal most PR wounds that don’t kill you completely, these users will control the SERPs for your name if you strike the wrong nerve.
    I’ve seen it time and time again, and oddly enough, sometimes the best you can do is to leave them alone. When facing off with consumers like this, engaging them only encourages them. The best thing to do is to ignore it until they find another cross to burn.
    The point is that it all comes down to commitment, and if anything you do can be in any way construed as being political (e.g. ad campaign, sourcing/manufacturing), you have to be really careful about what you trip up on, because you’ll lose control quick.

  8. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this post since I read it. I heartily agree with Mitch’s “rant”. Consumers do not “control” the brand now with Web 2.0 any more than they did in the past. Actually, I think the whole conversation about “control” is misdirected. The concern is actually about distribution and truth.
    As Mitch mentioned, consumers now have access to distribution – distribution on a scale unseen previously. When it required an ad-buy to distribute a message, there wasn’t much of an opportunity for an individual or small organization to challenge a marketing message. Now, anyone can get wide distribution (over the Internet) about his or her response (good or bad) to a marketing message.
    From a marketing perspective, this is, by itself, nothing to be concerned about. The concern does become valid, however, when the marketing message does not hold up. When consumers either buy into a message, and their experience does not match the message, or when consumers find that that the message did not tell the whole story, consumers can now add their experience to the public conversation about the brand. This discrepancy between brand-message and actual experience is now broadcast widely and might overtake the original message.
    On the other hand, when a consumer’s experience matches the marketing, the result is likely to be delight. This delight will also be spread. So, it seems to me, the one way to avoid any of this concern is to make sure that the product and marketing match and that the marketing tells the whole story.
    Could it be that accomplishing this is what all the concern is about?

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