Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Age of Persuasion

Some of you may know that, like Charles, I work in the advertising field. Not in the thick of it as he does, but mostly doing advertising work that the design firm I work for makes the bulk of its income from.

So it should come as no surprise that a radio show broadcast on CBC 1 on Saturday mornings is one of my favourites. It's called The Age of Persuasion and it's the creation of Terry O'Reilly, one of the major figures in Canadian advertising. It's witty, wise and really lets you know just how advertising works -- in every facet of our lives.

Last week's show was especially fascinating. It was centered around the effect that Youtube.com has had on media and especially advertising.

The heart of the discussion was how it has changed advertising into a two-way street. In the past, advertisers talked to consumers. The best you might get is a (rhetorical) question from them: "Want relief from acid indigestion?" "Looking for a great new car?" Etcetera, ad nauseam.

The example used for the paradigm shift was a promotion/contest by Chevrolet where people could build their own commercial for one of the Chevy SUVs, using soundtracks, images, clips, and such available on a special website. You could then upload them and the best one got a prize. (Or something like this.)

At first everything went really well. Folks sent in some very clever commercials. Then something changed. Commercials started to be posted that were very negative (some extremely so) and were used as vehicles (pun intended) for those who have a problem with pollution, wasting of resources, even the way cars are marketed. All of a sudden, the consumer could comment directly on products. Once Youtube got hold of these, no matter what GM did, they wouldn't go away.

Over the last little while, Youtube uploads have moved even more in this direction and it signals a sea change in the way the public interacts with corporations and their products.

Now, why am I going on about all this? Because it seems to me there is a tremendous marketing opportunity here. If I could do something really clever visually for one of my books, I might be able to get an awful lot of free milage from Youtube.

I aim to figure it out, in which case I'll let you know -- after I've put it into play for myself...

If you want to listen to episodes of the best show I've ever heard on advertising and marketing, go here:


I think you'll find this show absolutely intriguing. All shows are available to listen to. Charles will want to play them for everyone he works with.

And if you want to see one of the Chevy commercial parodies:


There are plenty more. Consumers (finally) strike back!


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