Advertisers: You have lost control of your message. Get over it.
: VW is going berserk over the parody ad that showed a terrorist blowing himself up inside a small but tough sedan. The company is demanding apologies and threatening to sue.
Sorry, guys. That VW has already left the barn.
You are no longer in control of your message, advertisers. You can fight it or you can embrace it.
Learn the lesson from the music industry. They fought. They lost. Big media is trying to learn that lesson now. TV is trying to learn that lesson. Your turn, advertisers.
If you embrace this, I’ll just bet you will find something amazing happen: You will find that your customers are better at marketing your products than you are.
Oh, I know your fear: ‘But what these people say will be off message!’ Well, then, maybe your message is off.
If I were you, VW, I would hold a contest to get people to create the best damned VW commercial anywhere and promise to spend big bucks to air it on, say, the Oscars. You don’t have to pick the terrorist commercial. You’ll be making clear that the thing was not made by you. At the same time, you will learn a lot about new messages that truly resonate and reverberate from your customers — because your customers are creating them. How’s that for market research?
This is the Cluetrain economy, guys: Markets are conversations. Join in the conversation, don’t try to muzzle it.
If you let them… your customers will tell you how to create your products. If you let them… your customers will market them for you. If you let them… your customers will even be your free customer service department if you let them — yielding more happy customers and no complaints about putting people on hold and pissing them off.
Look at how TreoCentral: That’s a guerrilla customer movement of Treo fans helping Treo fans. That is the future.
: More on sell-side advertising and the idea that consumers are your best marketers here. More on exploding TV here.