Carrie Lam's move expands police powers of arrest amid widespread fear that the department is operating with impunity. No such luck for Harjit Sajjan. After decades of politicians pandering to us as special interest groups, we respond by demanding whatever favours we think we can get out of them. Did we, in creating police forces to help us defend our property, mean to surrender the right of self-defence altogether?
Peter Tertzakian: The climate change narrative has shifted into uncomfortable territory — your lifestyle. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh assailed the Liberal record on improving the lives of First Nations communities as he committed to ensuring universal access to clean drinking water.
This Week's Flyers.
Coachbuilding allegedly died out before the Second World War, but now the art form is making a comeback. In addition, the trainees accompanied attendees during the day to educate them on the products with hands-on training so they could use the products in unique and highly engaging ways. Over the course of the day, media participants had the opportunity to use their cameras and capture footage during activities like go kart racing, helicopter rides, hydrofoiling, yacht racing and seaplane rides.
The day wrapped with a lively after party at Sparks Social. Social efforts reached HP wanted to drive awareness for its OMEN line of products and the annual TwitchCon convention was the ideal place to make that happen. It has sold more than 30 million copies and broken three million concurrent views on the gaming platform Steam, making it the perfect vehicle to highlight the OMEN Challenge. TwitchCon draws an audience of more than 50, attendees over three days. All players in the two-hour tournament could be easily viewed by both the live audience and online viewers.
The center stage, which boasted a foot LED screen, was positioned within the giant multi-level pod structures of the arena. To reach and engage the gaming audience, HP developed an organic method to naturally integrate product promotions into the livestream. About 8, attendees were hosted on-site and tournament registration was sold out. There were one million livestream views, far surpassing the goal of , HP conducted 3, product demos and achieved a five percent redemption rate for a 20 percent off accessories coupon. Under Armour sidestepped that problem by making the C1N lifestyle shoe—inspired by NFL quarterback Cam Newton—a featured character in the launch event.
The experiential team engaged Cam in the creative process to ensure every connection point encompassed who he was and what he stood for. Hundreds of Atlanta Boys and Girls Club of America youth were in attendance and played classic carnival games and got the chance to meet their hometown hero. As guests entered the carnival inspired event at Skyline Park, a freight elevator opened to reveal the never-before-seen C1N Lifestyle shoe.
It received over 75 million online and broadcast impressions, 25 million editorial social impressions and 11 million impressions from social influencers. Nickelodeon dreamed up a promotion to give families a reason to go in-store. The strategy was to deliver to shoppers an exclusive assortment of products that aligned with the PAW Patrol Pirate Pups content they would see on-air and to reach key parent shoppers with digital and social tactics that would drive families in-store and to target.
PAW Patrol had its own dedicated pirate-themed minute special episode in season four and Nickelodeon knew that pirates were a common imaginative play theme among all kids. In-store, off-shelf placements, cross-category end caps, toy half-pallets, dedicated home end caps and costume end caps with custom PAW Patrol Pirate Pups signage were developed to create eye catching in-store moments. Influencer moms showcased products throughout October and a target. Families met Chase, Marshall and Skye and took part in photo ops, play areas and sampling activations.
All this culminated with the final stop on Oct. PAW Patrol headlined the event, where the premiere of the Pirate Pups minute special was broadcast on the screens within the entertainment department of all Target stores. Nickelodeon also drove promotion of the event across its platforms. The hard work paid off. ShopRite wanted to drive more traffic to its stores. Pantene wanted to motivate consumers to donate their hair to support their Beautiful Lengths campaign. The custom program was set around Breast Cancer Awareness month, exclusively for ShopRite, which allowed shoppers in the Northeast to make a difference in their communities.
At each ShopRite store, the goal was to have five ponytails donated for a total of ponytails across all 40 stores. In the end, a total of ponytails were donated, surpassing goal by four. Additionally, ShopRite employees were so motivated by the program that there was discussion around a second anniversary campaign before the program was even halfway completed. The experience was tied to the October issue of Marie Claire , which highlighted the intersection of technology and lifestyle in a six-page editorial section featuring products to be showcased in the pop-up. Open seven days a week from a.
Smart mirrors revamped the dressing room experience by recognizing products brought into the room. The mirrors used RFID tags and made recommendations for related items. An on-mirror display showed other colors and sizes available. Smart mirrors have been shown to increase average basket sizes by 59 percent, and significantly boost conversion.
And there was more. B8ta, a software-powered retailer, provided digital setups for products that displayed information on the items, pictures and videos of them in action, as well as the option to buy them. The challenge was to identify consumer taste preferences and narrow down the 27 Starbucks flavor options to three that could drive in-store sales. The campaign produced a jolt with 10 percent year over year sales lifts. The program also exceeded CTR benchmarks by two times and sparked , individual sessions on Spotify, more than , Pinterest clicks and a 31 percent increase in Starbucks Coffee At Home website traffic, with , flight samples redeemed.
The natural foods category is a hot one for many brands, but it can be a challenging space for legacy products looking to find a way in. A tiny home research shows Millennials love these was converted to a Tasting Room designed as a modern winery. Dark woods paired with brick wall textures, and industrial lighting gave the space a very sophisticated and modern feel. Outside, consumers found a one-of-a-kind, handmade flower wall where they could pose for Polaroids, as well as picnic tables positioned under twinkling lights to serve as a garden patio for relaxing.
Influencers served as hosts, sharing and producing content for their followers. The brand sampled , pouches over four different flavors. Paid social supporting The Tasting Room resulted in 2. Six influencers posted 22 times over the course of the tour resulting in , potential direct impressions, and 17, social engagements. Within four weeks of the experience, 86 percent of Tasting Room attendees purchased N. Ninety-six percent of Tasting Room attendees shared their N.
After the experience, 85 percent of Tasting Room attendees had a high opinion of the brand. To encourage all fans to enter the contest, Courtyard ran a social media campaign featuring people from all walks of life. From September 1 through November 3, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, thousands of fans shared their most unique, one-of-a-kind NFL fan photos and videos using the hashtag CourtyardSleepoverContest. For the ultimate prize, Courtyard hosted the winner and a guest at an in-stadium experience with access to exclusive events throughout the weekend, culminating in a sleepover in the stadium on the eve of the Super Bowl LII and tickets to the big game.
The dome debuted in New York on Sept. The next day, they had a private tour of U. The campaign exceeded million PR impressions. The media showcase prior to the winners moving into the suite on Super Bowl Saturday received more than The 4-D dome launch and experience hosted over 3, guests, and the experience and sleepover contest gained 11 million social video views. Barilla wanted to disrupt that thinking, so it leveraged a sponsorship of Olympic gold medal skier Mikaela Shiffrin to raise awareness for its ProteinPLUS pasta.
MyFitnessPal was chosen as the partner to make it happen. The app has over 35 million monthly active users that skew 70 percent female and 87 percent under age The app features more than five million foods in its database. By logging meals and workouts, the target audience was rewarded with access to exclusive nutrition and fitness content, and incentives to purchase Barilla ProteinPLUS.
In turn, Barilla was able to create a dialogue with a brand new target shopper. The sponsorship generated more than 32 million impressions across all platforms, with 93, total participants, more than seven million meals logged, 1,, exercises logged and 27, clicks on in-app media placement. Mars Wrigley saw the untapped potential for its Dove Promises brand and partnered with Walmart. The campaign focused on the busy family shopper at Walmart, a mom who strongly skews Millennial and has several kids in her household.
She has already allocated all of her time and money, with a huge portion of both often going to Walmart. She feels good about purchasing items that have an added social cause or benefit to the community. The creative solution, Raised Me to Care, leaned heavily on the important role mothers play in the lives of their families. The heart of the program was an NPR StoryCorps-style online interview series between mothers and their children with extraordinary circumstances.
Online videos were used to create an emotional connection. To reach consumers while they were in the shopping mindset, Dove used AOL pre-roll ads and promoted Facebook posts. Walmart Exchange WMX data was leveraged to reach consumers via run-of-site ads, keywords and contextually targeted placements on Walmart. All media drove consumers to an enhanced landing page on the Walmart site where they could seamlessly add Dove products to their shopping cart.
The campaign drove both a sales lift The online ads drove a Online purchases accounted for The videos generated more than four million impressions and 11, engagements across Facebook and Instagram. Sweet, indeed. On average, 11 percent of auto insurance policyholders leave their insurance company in a year, and Liberty Mutual knew that 39 percent of its customers were currently shopping for a different insurance carrier.
The brand wanted to create an opportunity to prove the quality of its service, since only a small fraction of policyholders make a claim each year. Finding a new way to build affinity and boost its value to retain customers was essential. MasterThis was designed as way to help policyholders grow their personal knowledge about insurance. MasterKits, which are collections of content on a given worry, are sequential guides to take the user from worry to mastery.
Content was distributed at a number of touchpoints, including email, social media, advertising, direct mail, voice assistants, sponsorships and more, and was served based on a combination of first, second and third-party data to get customers the right content, in the right context, at the right time. The results? There was a 50 percent decrease in bounce rate, compared to historical content marketing efforts. Ninety percent of policyholders were reached via trackable email and direct mail with MasterThis content.
Marriott Rewards is one of the most well known loyalty programs in the world, but when it came to younger travel-loving audiences, it needed to develop a stronger connection. The 6 Days, 7 Nights program set out to boost awareness and drive consideration among this coveted demographic. The episodes spoke to viewers in a language they were already familiar with on Snapchat: organic, user-generated content in a vertical, full-screen format with briskly paced editing and fun creative additions like emojis, patterns and captions.
The full episodes transported members to fascinating destinations, like Seoul and Dubai. Members experienced this adventure through the eyes of the influencer, discovering the benefits of the loyalty program along the way. Each episode featured a unique hotel from a distinctive brand in the Marriott portfolio and highlighted Rewards member benefits. Their strategy paid off—Snapchatters opted to watch the final branded video experience for longer than most auto-play, pre-roll video ads last.
The series generated over 16 million impressions, reaching 4. While the Top Snaps drove strong swipe up rates, the campaign delivered especially strong engagement with the long-form videos, which enjoyed an average playtime of 39 seconds. Southwest wanted to give its brand an extra lift while leveraging the brand equity of its onboard partner RITZ.
Three flights going to tourist destinations were selected as the platform for the promotion. To get passengers involved—and ready to capture the experience—flights attendants announced that they would hand out a special gift to those sitting in the center seat. When the box was opened, an animated guide walked passengers through the experience.
Then they were asked to get to know their seatmates while completing custom Madlibs. Instead of asking for adverbs and adjectives they asked for details like the eye color of the window seat passenger, and the high school mascot of the aisle seat passenger. Finally, passengers were prompted to open the hidden drawer of the box that revealed three sets of playing cards, one for each seatmate. The Southwest Business communications team captured all of this with their onboard camera crew. The most amazing result was that of the 2, reactions—the post garnered Sparks took on that challenge at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show to show that Google Assistant is available across devices and platforms, showcasing the breadth of the more than smart home brands in the Google Assistant ecosystem and how these integrations help consumers.
There were also major events and experiences. The Google Assistant Playground, the main CES experiential hub, was located in the Central Plaza where a wonderland of hands-on engagements showcased the Assistant and all the ways it can help daily life. The three-level, 6,square-foot experience featured open and closed-air spaces, and packed in over partner engagements, partner devices and various opportunities to see how the products worked together. Ten sensors throughout the Playground anonymously tracked traffic, journey and dwell time.
Then there were the three, foot-tall, larger-than-life gumball machines located on the promenade on the Linq, inside the Sands and the main entrance of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Guests interacted with Google Assistant on a screen and were then vended a gumball capsule. Inside, prizes ranged from Google-branded gear and partner gift cards to devices that had the Google Assistant built in, like Google Home Mini.
Average dwell time at the playground was minutes first level , and 25 minutes second level. Average wait time for the Gumball Machines was 75 minutes with 5, product trials and 5, prizes dispensed. The product gallery had 13, visitors with 5, product trials. There were millions of impressions and social interactions. The Donald J. And the Donald J. The team got the message across.
The Independent Group will at last give us real opposition to Brexit | Gina Miller
At the New York grand opening the line was over seven hours long to enter. Guacamole is more than just something you dip a crisp chip into. Enter The Guac Stop, a sampling campaign featuring a traveling, foot by foot pop-up guacamole lounge that made stops in five locations—Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Seattle—in search of Gen X and Millennial consumers. At each activation, the brand positioned itself as a healthy lifestyle product that could be incorporated into any daily routine.
A sampling bar offered 12 Guac toppings. There was a Prynt photo activation and lawn and table games. People that tweeted a custom hashtag from a socially enabled vending machine received a giveaway featuring avocado characters specially created for the promotion by a cartoonist.
In each market, on-site printers produced t-shirts with market-specific designs available to the first respondents. The three-month execution distributed , samples and saw , consumer engagements, exceeding estimations by more than 12 percent. Some photos were taken and the interactive vending machine garnered 2, social media engagements. A total of pieces of coverage were recorded, equating to 1.
Wholly guacamole! We had to say it. The Glenlivet was looking for new customers that matched its sweet spot, to year-old men with a culinary mindset. The goal was to create a high-volume sampling experience with a hyper-efficient flavor platform all in a social setting that would fuel interaction. The resulting six-month tour, The Glenlivet Dram Room, made its way to festivals and foodie events across the country. It was designed and constructed as a modular structure that felt more like a permanent house than a pop-up booth.
Hand-weathered wood on the outside of the set represented the charred barrels used during whisky production. A video loop showed scenes outside the distillery in Speyside, Scotland, alongside gristmills where guests could reach out and touch the barley that transforms water into whisky during the distillation process. The Aroma Station brought guests on an olfactory journey through the flavor notes of each expression, while neat whisky and cocktail sampling rounded out the tasting experience.
Robust floor-to-ceiling imagery transported guests to Scotland. The custom-built Custom Cocktail Machine utilized a never-before-seen app and unique algorithm to guide users through a series of specially designed taste-focused questions in order to determine their tasting preferences and resulting cocktail recommendation. All consumers who used the Custom Cocktail Machine received a post-event email that included the recipe for their selected cocktail, as well as location-specific information about where to purchase the ingredients for the drink, driving consumer traffic to retail and encouraging guests to further interact on social media.
A total of 20 festivals and 42 activation days produced 20, attendees who consumed 1, bottles of the product. The Custom Cocktail Machine provided 4, uses. More than 7. That tide began to turn thanks to an experiential campaign that would cross countries targeting a diverse United Arab Emirates UAE audience that included men and women, adults and youth, football fans and non-footballers, people of all abilities and nationalities. Two mobile roadshow units anchored the program, touring the UAE for days over nine months, visiting 68 unique and strategically chosen locations and actively engaging participants through skill-based competitions.
To access the experience, a match ticket was required. The Mobile Roadshow was built around six key components. First among them, community outreach, which was key to maximizing engagement. Gamification in the form of skill-based games and an app testing the skillsets of modern footballers—speed, power, jumping, reflex, accuracy—let players see their scores and rank themselves against friends and family. Mass accessibility efforts, like the activation for the People of Determination Special Needs organized with Dubai Police, created a sense of inclusion. The campaign successfully attracted diverse communities, activating both football and non-football fans and driving 35 percent higher match attendance to early-round matches.
The roadshow reached 66, school children at 21 schools with nearly 5, children attending early-round matches and serving as Youth Leaders. This campaign was all about that base—the core, rural lifestyle consumer, that is—and how to drive them into Tractor Supply stores to purchase. The Follow Us to the Fair Tour pulled two wrapped foot gooseneck trailers with two tricked-out, wrapped Silverado Crew Cabs, visiting 19 fairs across 10 states over the course of 20 weeks.
On stage, brand ambassadors announced and led dance parties to the sounds of country music. Overall, , coupon books were distributed, driving 4. More than , premiums were distributed and there were , total impressions, with 98,documented impressions coming from PR and social media alone. To encourage fans to tune in live to the season six premiere last July—a one-hour special from Hawaii—truTV created a time limited promotion to connect socially with fans and get them to stay in front of their TV for the show.
To get fans in the mood, Impractical Jokers brought a little bit of Hawaii to viewers for the premiere with a hashtag-driven sweepstakes by sending free Hawaiian pizzas to fans that tweeted at the show using a pineapple emoji. The promotion required complex planning and integration of social media, fulfillment and geo-location qualifiers.
Some extremely remote parts of the country had to be excluded from the rules, since it would be impossible to find a local pizza supplier within a one-hour delivery window. This promotion was open for no more than seven hours while supplies lasted and promoted solely through the Jokers social handles. Fan engagement, sharing and viral responses were key drivers to social success.
Premiere night demonstrated the Jokers and Pineapple love. JokersGiveaway received more than 19, Tweets from 6, participating fans, generating 1. The supporting microsite gained , page views. Twitter generated 1. MLS fans skew toward young parents and their kids, with a modest slice of the Hispanic demographic in the mix.
Cheez-It and Pringles wanted to develop a promotion that would link the snacks to their lifestyle and priorities, strengthen retailer ties and boost sales. An online sweepstakes invited fans to step right onto the field and into the action with MLS stars. Support included field signage at 22 MLS stadiums, homepage takeovers of team websites, YouTube ads, web banners, national and regional in-store POP, email and p.
Entries were accomplished with a simple tweet tagged KickItEntry. To amp up the excitement, packages of Cheez-It were turned into an invitation to get into the game not only on the field, but at the table, with a box that let them literally play with their food. Players were invited to post videos of their tabletop soccer exploits with the KickItEntry tag.
Bold Explorers immediately lit up social media, especially Twitter, with 35, mentions from KickItEntry conversations alone. This total included thousands who played the on-box cracker-soccer game, then tweeted videos and stills of the action. The sweeps itself drew over 93, tweeted entries. The goal was to help users find the perfect travel experience and show that exploring America is more doable than they may have realized. On the landing page, users were greeted with classic American imagery of towering skyscrapers, an open road snaking through a red rock canyon and a picturesque sunset behind a palm tree.
Once logged in, users found themselves at the Hub where they could spin a compass deciding which one of six U. The Hub offered a new adventure every day, with users learning new things about America. Unique trivia questions connected the user with fun and informative travel-related content, earning sweepstakes entries along the way. With users encouraged on an emotional level—with nostalgia for past vacations and excitement for their next big adventure—they were invited to share their favorite travel stories and answer travel-related trivia questions to earn chances to win a travel experience of a lifetime.
A total of , entrants participated, for a 37 percent conversion rate. What would it take to get consumers to consider Michelob ULTRA as an authentic part of the fitness community and the smart beer choice for those who choose to be active? For A-B, the answer was in a series of live fitness experiences supported by 18 social media influencers.
Following the workout, the influencers hosted happy hours, served Michelob ULTRA and handed out branded fitness premiums. Over 10, attendees experienced the events. The influencer-led experience gathered more than 2. After the campaign, Michelob ULTRA saw a 57 percent improvement in purchase consideration among healthy and active lifestyle consumers. How do you attract an elusive and glamorous audience to a niche brand—a French liqueur made from thousands of delicate white elderflower blossoms hand-picked at the height of their beauty?
St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur had a captivating story to tell and the Bacardi brand was ready for its day in the sun. The solution was an experience that paired an irresistible location with an irresistible story. In New York, the brand turned two city blocks of The High Line in Manhattan into a romantic-yet-whimsical journey featuring a 16th-century-style French maze furnished from live hedges and a trail of thousands of flowers, with modern dance performances directed by Mafalda Millies.
Overhead, the Chelsea Passage was transformed with a stunning installation of fresh blossoms. Sent to an exclusive invite list, the botanical-inspired invitations included a glass terrarium filled with moss and succulents nestled around a bottle of St-Germain. Bartenders batched cocktails in gold-rimmed custom glassware. Press and social buzz was drive by two Instagram Live segments hosted by Millennial fashion social media influencer, Tiffany Ma misstiffanyma.
Four social media fashion influencers popular amongst Millennials were contracted to post content wearing the outfits and attending the launch party, including weworewhat with two million followers, and colormecourtney, well-known for her vibrant and playful social content. Other influencers were also invited as VIP guests and posted content from the party wearing the collection. Influencers garnered reach of more than 4. To raise awareness for its expanded European destinations, Lufthansa took consumers on a journey across the globe—without ever leaving New York City.
The campaign revolved around a simple idea: Connect consumers live in VR with Lufthansa flight attendants based in premium European locations for a truly personal experience. Three European cities were chosen for the activation: Vienna, Athens and Munich. Next, a custom VR app was built to play back the live streams being watched in New York.
Each flight attendant had their own dedicated streaming rig and dedicated audio software which was then patched together in real time. Each week, a premium European Lufthansa destination was chosen to highlight. As visitors entered Bryant Park to watch live Broadway performances, they found a square-foot Lufthansa branded environment customized to match the corresponding European city. For example, when Athens was featured, a Greek cafe was created, with corresponding flowers, backdrop and tabletop vignette. After receiving a customized ticket, they sat in the branded environment and put on their VR goggles and headphones.
One of four flight attendants in the featured city greeted the consumer in Bryant Park via the VR live stream. As visitors settled into the four cafe chairs, consumers were able to have two way conversations with the flight attendants and ask question about the city. Select participants won travel to the featured location. The media partnership with iHeartMedia created powerful results, including 48 million impressions on LITE FM; 60, fans who visited the park; and 3, consumer who engaged with the activation.
Bon voyage! Amazon wanted to boost Nickelodeon cross-category sales in three toy categories, increase searches ahead of the holidays and recruit a new audience for Nick products. A unique creative was designed with a CTA to scan the ad in the Amazon app to redeem exclusive deals. There was a significant lift in sales with a more than percent boost versus the prior year. Impressions to product pages of featured items increased by 48 percent.
The vendor management team at Amazon highlighted this program in their top five wins of In recent years, Pop-Tarts faced a drop in household penetration that negatively impacted sales. To shore up these declines, the brand cast an eye toward a new target: teens and young adults. After immersing itself in attitudinal and behavioral data and social listening, the brand looked to video games, notably new title launches when gamers line up at midnight or take the day off from school or work to play. The more Pop-Tarts they purchased, the higher they climbed. Some shoppers were even buying more than boxes in one trip.
And while gamers always love XP points, the offer was designed to be particularly appetizing to Destiny 2 players; sixty gaming influencers received Destiny 2 -branded Pop-Tarts boxes that featured their gamertag on the front of the box to share with their fans. In a partnership with Gamestop, the first , shoppers who bought Destiny 2 received free XP Boost codes and Pop-Tarts samples to fuel their first night of playing the game.
The Minion bowl, free with purchase, was distributed in 23 countries including Asia, Latin America and Europe. On-pack marketing and a shrink-wrapped bowl was on display so customers could see the prize inside.
Large volumes of the product were ordered and distributed the last week of June The media picked up the promotion, which had a domino effect on the proceeding sales. In all markets the promotion was well received and generated 93 percent more lift than the standard in-pack box. In Thailand, specifically, the cereal sold out in less than a week, with 20, items sold.
Golfers both casual and professional aspire to the greatness of Arnold Palmer. With ArnieWould, Mastercard honored his legacy and engaged fans across multiple platforms before, during and after major tournaments. Mastercard leveraged the Masterpass Club, a cardholder hospitality space, to honor the legend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The space became a must-visit destination after choreographed appearances from Mastercard ambassadors Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Brandt Snedeker, who led a toast to Palmer featuring his signature beverage.
ArnieWould was prominently displayed on signage and table displays to remind attendees of the impact of his legacy. In addition, ArnieWould fan experiences were created across the Bay Hill Club golf course, including designated autograph areas where fans could meet pro golfers Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell and ask them questions after their rounds.
Rose and McDowell also shared ArnieWould tributes on their own social channels. ArnieWould was a viral success, garnering Technology helped National Geographic showcase the human side of Albert Einstein, with a chatbot that helped drive tune-in while helping users discover the man behind the great mind. The main challenge was ensuring that the chatbot experience was authentic and had an authentic conversational flow, while also being entertaining and promoting the show.
It was vital that if someone asked the bot about the theory of relativity, it would relay an explanation in a simple and easily understood way. And, it had to account for any kind of troll or user who would attempt to provoke the bot into a negative response. This is also true for conversations on networked markets.
In fact, as the network gets larger it also gets smarter. The Cluetrain Corollary: the level of knowledge on a network increases as the square of the number of users times the volume of conversation.source
2017 year in review: Campaigns of the year
So, in market conversations, it is far easier to learn the truth about the products being pumped, about the promises being made, and about the people making those promises. The Net invites your customers in to talk, to laugh with each other, and to learn from each other. Connected, they reclaim their voice in the market, but this time with more reach and wider influence than ever. In its customary overstatement and retinal-torture colors, the magazine devoted its cover and following eleven pages to "PUSH! Kiss your browser Goodbye: The radical future of media beyond the Web.
The money at stake is huge. The "push" movement of became the pushover of The power of conversation goes well beyond its ability to affect consumers, business, and products. Market conversations can make -- and unmake and remake -- entire industries. In fact, the Internet itself is an example of an industry built by pure conversation. The process of building the Internet was a little like building a bridge: start with a thin wire spanning a chasm, then spin that single wire into a thick cable capable of supporting heavy girders and the rest of the structure.
Incredibly, no one directed this effort. No one controlled it. The people who incrementally built the Internet -- literally, one bit at a time -- participated solely out of enthusiasm, an enthusiasm driven by a shared and growing vision of what this strange thing they were building might ultimately become.
It never would have happened. It certainly never would have been imagined as it now exists. Every one of those companies would have looked for a way to control it, to make it theirs. More than a few would have turned down the job. Microsoft was famously late to the Internet game in part because Bill Gates thought there was no money to be made.
What it took was behind-the-scenes work by what amounts to a loosely organized, Internet-mediated software craft guild. The results include Apache, a Web server developed by Brian Behlendorf and a bunch of other hackers, simply because they needed it. Linux was initiated by a young, unknown software developer, Linus Torvalds. He needed it, so he crafted it -- and then he made it available to the rest of the world through the Internet.
He published not just the finished product but, far more important, its source code. Anyone with software engineering tools and the technical chops could add to it, modify it, craft it into precisely the tool they needed. As a result, Linux has rapidly become one of the most sophisticated, powerful, and configurable software products in history -- all without anyone managing or controlling it.
Eric Raymond, in his seminal work on hacker culture, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, describes the dynamics of this distributed and self-motivated community of independent programmers. By conversation. Both the Internet and Linux are powerful demonstrations of a pure market conversation at work. They show what can happen when people are able to communicate without either the constraints of command-and-control management, or the straightjacket of one-message-fits-all. As Raymond writes:.
So the only game left to play is pure craftsmanship and reputation among peers. The most important lesson Linux hackers teach is that whole markets can rapidly arise out of conversations that are independent not only of business, but also of government, education, and other powerful but hidebound institutions, thanks in large measure to something hackers helped invent precisely for that purpose: the Internet.
Conversation is how the work of craft groups proceeds. They can be created on purpose. We intended this revolution. Own the conversations? Keep the conversations on message? Turn up the volume until it drowns out the market?
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Compete with the new conversations? But how could it? Conversations are the "products" the new markets are "marketing" to one another constantly online. Come look at my Web site. Subscribe to my e-zine. Check the whacked-out rant I just posted to alt. Get a load of this stupid banner ad I just found at boy-are-we-clueless.
By comparison, corporate messaging is pathetic. It only wants us to buy. Silence is fatal. So what becomes of marketing? How do companies enter into the global conversation? How do they find their own voice? Can they? How do they wean themselves from messaging? What happens to. Ironically, public relations has a huge PR problem: people use it as a synonym for BS.
The call of the flack has never been an especially honorable one. There is no Pulitzer Prize for public relations. Like all besieged professions, PR has its official bodies, which do indeed grant various awards, degrees, and titles. But do you know what they are? Neither do most PR people. Everyone -- including many PR people -- senses that something is deeply phony about the profession. Take the standard computer-industry press release.
With few exceptions, it describes an "announcement" that was not made, for a product that was not available, quoting people who never said anything, for distribution to a list of people who mostly consider it trash. Dishonesty in PR is pro forma. A press release is written as a plainly fake news story, with headline, dateline, quotes, and all the dramatic tension of a phone number.
The idea, of course, is to make the story easy for editors to "insert" in their publications. But an editor would rather insert a crab in his butt than a press release in their publication. The disconnect between supply and demand could hardly be more extreme. No self-respecting editor would let a source -- least of all a biased one -- write a story.
And no editor is in the market for a thinly disguised advertisement, which is the actual content of a press release. To most editors, press releases are just pretend clothing for emperors best seen naked -- because naked emperors make much better stories than dressed-up ones. The fundamental appeal of stories is conflict, struggle, and complexity.
Page two might mention some "shakedown glitches inevitable whenever a magnificent new ship is launched. Public relations not only fails to comprehend the nature of stories, but imagines that "positive" stories can be "created" with press conferences and other staged events. John C. Dvorak, PR scourge of long standing, says, "So why would you want to sit in a large room full of reporters and publicly ask a question that can then be quoted by every guy in the place? Damn PR Types. Their job -- their craft -- is to discern stories the market actually wants to hear, to help journalists write stories that tell the truth, to bring people into conversation rather than protect them from it.
Indeed, already some companies are building sites that give journalists comprehensive, unfiltered information about the industry, including unedited material from their competitors. In the age of the Web where hype blows up in your face and spin gets taken as an insult, the real work of PR will be more important than ever. TV is the best medium ever created for advertising. The Web is the best medium ever created for sales. The Web, like the telephone, is a way you can go see somebody, a way to talk with them, show your wares, answer their questions, offer referrals, and make it easy for them to buy whatever they want.
Why get someone to look at an ad on the Web when, with exactly the same amount of wrist power, you can get them into your electronic storefront itself? Sure, you can advertise on the Web, and many Internet companies say advertising is how they are going to make their money. And the sum of advertising on the Web keeps going up. Why not? Just liquidate a few percent of those moon-high stock valuations and buy a few billion dollars more Web advertising. But Web advertising is already an inside joke. Most of the banner ads you see at the tops of pages are trades and sponsorships, not paid advertising.
And everybody knows that having your page turn up in the top ten results when someone goes hunting at a major search site is far more effective than buying ads on Web sites. This, predictably, has sparked the buying of ads on search sites. But that recognition counts for little against the tidal wave of word-of-Web.
You want to buy a new camera. You hastily click through the brochureware the vendors paid thousands to have designed, and you finally find a page that actually gives straightforward factual information. Now you go to a Usenet discussion group, or you find an e-mail list on the topic. You read what real customers have to say. You make a decision. A year later, some stranger in a discussion group asks how reliable the model you bought is.
You answer. You tell the truth. Compare that to the feeble sputtering of an ad. What these little voices used to say to a single friend is now accessible to the world. No number of ads will undo the words of the market. How long does it take until the market conversation punctures the exaggerations made in an ad? An hour? A day? The speed of word of mouth is now limited only by how fast people can type. Word of Web will trump word of hype, every time. You might think Marketing Communications departments talk about communications.
Not really. For every "message," there are dozens or hundreds of facts -- interesting, useful facts -- that never get said. Numbers that change. Divisions that move. Features added and subtracted. In the Industrial Age -- the age of scarce and mostly nonconversational media -- there were legitimate reasons for being "on message. Even at their most complete -- in the form of brochures and other stiff-necked paper goods -- marketing communications painted a glossy picture no one believed. We all have been trained by a lifetime of experience to turn down the volume when confronted with a beautiful full-color artifact explaining why the products are perfect, the company loves its customers, and every customer is delighted.
Like editors skimming a press release, customers root through brochures to find a few motes of useful information. We needed a whole salt mine to keep up with the tide of BS. Predictably, most corporate Web sites look like brochures. Visitors have to click through screen after screen of fatuous self-praise to find the few bits of useful information they really want. If you want to take your first baby step towards entering the market conversation, torch any brochureware on your site.
At best your networked market views it as a speed bump, at worst as an insult. Your site needs to have a voice, to express a point of view, and to give access to helpful people inside your corporation. Replace the brochures with ways to ignite dialogues.
Not only do your customers want to talk with real people inside your organization, but your employees are desperate to talk with real customers. They want to tell them the truth. This makes obvious sense when the supply side controls the means of both production and distribution. After decades of replaceable products, replaceable workers, and replaceable consumers, we now have replaceable merchants.
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The first effect of this shift in power has been tremendous downward price pressure. After being trained so assiduously in the economics of mass-ness, the first impulse on the Web is to shop on price alone. Shopping "bots" can find the lowest price among all merchants doing business on the Web. I can go to www. Or if I decide to buy an Epson Stylus color printer I have already listened in on the consumer conversations on the Web , I can go to a site like www.
Businesses have to make money, after all. And merchants are smart. They offer new services that will distract the market from its insistence on extracting vengeance by shaving margins with a guillotine. And what are those emerging services, hmm? For example, the merchant may enable you to talk with its own experts. Or it may put you in touch with the rest of the market directly, using the means the Web has served up to us. In short, although there is no demand for messages, there is a tremendous demand for good conversation.
But both no-margin pricing and higher-margin pricing with the added value of conversation are still examples of pricing driven from on high as if suppliers were still in charge. This is quite literally true at www. They can take your business or leave it. But the pricing is up to you. The most dramatic move away from top-down pricing is evident at auction sites such as www.
Yes, eBay is a virtual flea market, albeit it with millions of items on sale at any one moment. But it is also much more. They lose some control over pricing -- in a complete role reversal, the market sets the price and the merchant has the power to say no -- but they get into the thick of the fray with almost no startup or marketing costs. PNC Bank Corp.
Ford Motor has auctioned automotive components. Now the Web is reaching even further up the chain, fundamentally changing the value and cost equations that rationalize pricing. With the music encoding standard called MP3, any digital recording -- such as tracks from a CD -- can be posted on a Web site, downloaded, listened to, and even recorded back onto a CD. Everyone who knows how to point and click can gather tracks from their favorite musicians and assemble their own albums. Production and distribution are so cheap and easy that the market can do it for itself.
Recording companies thought they were originators but instead found they were intermediaries. And the most efficient markets tend to have the fewest intermediaries. Why would musicians allow their music to be downloaded for free rather than sold for fifteen to twenty dollars by a recording company? Maybe because they hope that fans will eventually be willing to pay them something -- much less than the price of a typical CD -- for the download privilege, just as shareware has proved a successful business model for many software developers. Maybe musicians will allow their music to be priced low enough to encourage the widest possible distribution because they are craftspeople who care more deeply about the value of their work than its price.
Pricing interchangeable products for a mass market is just a matter of testing how high you can raise the bait out of the water and still have the fish bite. Each hotel room, each Beanie Baby, and each hand-assembled CD can now be priced according to different rules, granting the customer new advantages. The mechanical transactions in which the price declared by the supplier was paid by the consumer now becomes more of a dance, sometimes a courtship, and always a conversation. Strategic, even. Often, "positioning exercises" become expensive sojourns into corporate psychology.
The consultant gets to spend time with one group leader after another, performing the role of corporate shrink. It only matters that this statement will "drive the strategy," which will be yet another advertising and PR bombing campaign. In the battlefield of your mind, those companies are entrenched in those positions.
Why one word? Because to Trout and Ries, the human mind is as closed as a clam and just as roomy. In short, minds are so pathetic that they desperately need help, even if it comes in the form of an axe.