Monday, June 29, 2009

Consumers as Co-Creators, Creatives as Curators

The Obama/Biden Presidential Campaign was awarded the prestigious Titanium and Grand Prix awards at the International Advertising Festival held in Cannes this June. David Droga of Droga5, who chaired the jury, cited the campaign’s sophisticated use of digital media, its ability to build community, and its willingness to allow the brand to be built from the bottom up by consumers rather than dictated by an agency as prime factors in its selection.

He went on to say: "[The campaign's leaders] were curators as much as creators. They created the framework and allowed others to contribute." By others outside the campaign, the jury mentioned and the artist Shepard Fairey (for Shepard Fairey’s approach to art and advertising, see him on YouTube).

For quite some time (over 10 years at least), we have been hearing about how customers through customer-generated reviews, customer-powered search, and a host of wiki applications have assumed a dominant role in marketing communications (for those who have been willing to listen, that is). We have heard how new applications of technology—everything from Twitter to Flickr—are changing consumer and citizen behavior in ways we have yet to fully understand. Whether it’s the election in Iran, the sudden and enormous popularity of Susan Boyle, or the Dell Hell created by Jeff Jarvis (author of What Would Google Do?), the shift toward customer-controlled marketing and communications has occurred. And it’s our role as marketers, particularly in the retail arena, to make sure that we acknowledge it.

One of the comments posted by Kevin from Chicago on Advertising Age Online, where this story appeared, is particularly relevant: “Here’s to the new triple bottom line of branding: do great work, build community, listen to it, and let your customer tribe show you how to lead.”

(Illustration by Shepard Fairey)

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