The Times reports today that when Chevy opened up a site for people to remix Chevy Tahoe commercials, some folks used it as a chance to make snarky anti-SUV ads. Now you’d expect this story to end with Chevy’s ad agency backing up fast, killing the commercials, striking back at the unruly mob, and praying not to get fired. But no:
A spokeswoman for Chevrolet, Melisa Tezanos, said the company did not plan to shut down the anti-S.U.V. ads.
“We anticipated that there would be critical submissions,” Ms. Tezanos said. “You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it’s part of playing in this space.”
Well, bravo. That’s not only right, it’s smart. It’s the realization that the public owns the trust put in brands and you can’t try to get into the conversation and then shut half of it off. Besides, it’s not as if any of these subversive spots are going to convince SUV drivers to reform their ways. You can bet that SUV fans will enjoy defending their vehicles of choice. It’s like the Republicans hoping that the Democrats really do try to censure Bush; it will only bring out more Republicans to the polls. I don’t care what you say, just spell the URL right.
: LATER DISCLOSURE: A few hours after posting this, I got notice from Federated Media of an ad buy from… GM Planworks. It’s a different campaign but in the interest of full disclosure, it’s the related to the same big company. I also know people at GM Planworks at introduced them to About.com, where I consult, for a pitch.
Here’s the pinko commie marketing manifesto:
* Commie Marketing is about the end of the Marketing Manager, Director and anyone else who thinks they have control over the message, market or ‘brand’
* The commons…the producers…will decide what makes it ‘to market’, what flourishes, what dies, what is ignored, what is celebrated…whatever.
* No marketing budget, big or small, will change your advantage in this new world.
* Amateurism means passion, curiosity, intrigue and growth. What the hell is a professional? You get paid for doing what I’m doing right now? Cool. How do I get that gig? …
* Having a corporate blog does NOT mean that you get it. In fact, it mostly means that you don’t.
* The voices of the community, your employees and your competitors are more valuable than anything you could ever say. Listen. No…really…listen.
* Small is the new big. I know it sounds cliche, but beyond lipservice, let’s embrace it. …
OK, except for that line about marketing budgets. I want my piece first.
At OPA, Esther Dyson asks advertisers whether they are being disintermediated by Google and/or users. Rishad Tobaccowala, the master of the media soundbite and head of Publicis’ new Denuo, says no one is being disintermediated. The people want power — I believe he said we want to be entertained, connected, and empowered — and we will do what we do and marketers and media have no choice but to align with it. He gets applause.
Rishad talks about overdoing the age of relationships. “I want my headache to go away, I don’t want a relationship with Tylenol.”
I’ll paraphrase: Don’t overvalue brands. Don’t overdo CRM. Think human.
Asked about the value of research and measurement, Rishad says the results are in: Digital works.
Steve Baker talks to adman Rishad Tobaccowala of Denuo (Publicis):
He maintains that Google is out to become the eBay of advertising, but with one crucial difference: “eBay makes the market but doesn’t take sales,” he says. “Google is the seller and the market. Eventually, someone has to wake up and say, ‘This is [BS]’.”
And we have to wake up and create the open marketplace that will compete with Google’s coming monopoly. We have only ourselves to blame.
The rest of media is exploding. I’ve been arguing that the advertising business is next. And, in fact, the lack of courageous innovation in advertising is holding back development in the rest of media. For example, advertisers still feel safer buying print even though all the audience growth is online, which means they’re still paying too much for too little. It’s a painful syncopation.
But some in the ad biz get it and one who does is Rishad Tobaccowala of Publicis, who was the company’s chief innovation officer and today announced he’s starting a new company inside the ad giant to seek out and jumpstart innovation, to consult to advertisers and media companies, and even to invest — with advice capital — in startups like Brightcove. Here’s a Journal story about the company, called Denuo, and here’s a Rishad interview. (Full disclosures: I’ve become personal friends with one of the media thinkers in Rishad’s tank, Tom Tercek, and I’ve made blogboy spiels and business introductions for them — without financial gain, silly me.)
Here’s what I think this means from the outside: Rishad has always been a great thinker and a great talker but it’s not easy making change happen just by cajoling within an organization. You have to do it. I hope they manage to make change. We need it.