Marketing in the Age of Advocacy

nocluesignIt was all so much simpler for marketers a few years back…

Anyone with deep pockets could publicize their story the way they wanted to spin it with mass marketing, certain that they would be heard without having to really worry about opposing points of view.  Those with the most money owned the media.

But then came Web 2.0 and the rise of opinion as a mass channel and suddenly, that privilege disappeared.  As Clay Shirky points out so well, we now live in an era where people can organize without organizations and insure their POV’s are heard.  This is a sea change in the marketplace.

This morning’s USA Today features a story about how the dairy industry is rolling out an effort to protect chocolate milk in school lunchrooms.  Wary of being lumped in with sugary-sodas, they want to separate their product from the backlash surrounding those drinks.

Now I don’t know where you come down on the issue of chocolate milk in schools–candidly, I haven’t really formulated much of an opinion on that issue myself.  But what really jumped out at me was how one strong voice against this movement came from “obesity activists.”  “Obesity activists”: that’s an interesting career path.  I’m not sure what one does to qualify as an obesity activist but clearly anyone who fits that label comes down hard against chocolate milk in schools.  And if they have any organizing powers at all, they will be heard and their arguments will be taken seriously.

Again, we see brands are opinions and if we are to influence that opinion, we will have to employ new tactics.  And another marketer will have to adjust their efforts to recognize and respect our new playing field.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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