We take over the zoo

Bob Garfield writes another magnum opus for Ad Age. The last was on his chaos scenario for advertising. This is on the open-source revolution. Great lead:

Hear that?

In the distance? It’s a crowd forming — a crowd of what you used to call your “audience.” They’re still an audience, but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you. And they’re using your products, your brand names, your iconography, your slogans, your trademarks, your designs, your goodwill, all of it as if it belonged to them — which, in a way, it all does, because, after all, haven’t you spent decades, and trillions, to convince them of just that?

Congratulations. It worked. The Great Consumer Society believes deeply that it has a proprietary stake in you. And like stakeholders everywhere, they are letting their voices be heard.

Why? Because the information society is reversing flow. What began as an experiment among a few software nerds has, thanks to the Internet, expanded into other disciplines, notably media and law. But it won’t stop there. Advertising. Branding. Distribution. Consumer research. Product development. Manufacturing. They will all be turned upside down as the despotism of the executive suite gives way to the will, and wisdom, of the masses in a new commercial and cultural epoch, namely: The Open Source Revolution.

Here’s the Ad Age link, though that won’t work without blood tests and security clearances. Don’t tell anybody, but a blogger put the piece up here. Open-source revolution, indeed.

  • Loved your quote about the #1 lesson of the internet ;-)

  • Garfield does a great job of describing how consumers are changing how products are consumed. Then he screws it all up at the end and starts talking about how marketers should start “exploiting” it.

    If there’s anything to be learned from the current consumer rebellion, it’s that exploitation is not a viable strategy.

  • I was having this discussion about how marketing is declaring the death of advertising, (so dead it’s not fun to talk about anymore according to Hugh) …then I thought about it.

    No way! Let them keep doing what they’ve been doing for decades. It pays for us to watch free programming and get free stuff online. Hell, if I have to leave the room or surf the web while commercials interupt my favourite show or ignore a few gawdawful flashing banners to read some very useful information, so be it. Let those rich schmucks keep paying for me to have access to information. I’m down with that.

    I don’t want them joining the conversation (and Adam is right, exploitation is gross – it will screw up what we have created, which should be natural and untouched). I don’t want them listening and getting ‘smart’. They’ll stop spending money to help others entertain me.

    Oh…and as a disclaimer, I have built my career in marketing…but online, so I’m TOTALLY guilty of that exploitation thing (although I like to think of myself as a consumer advocate in conjunction with a marketing professional…does that make it ok?).

    Here we are now…entertain us.