Thursday, October 30, 2008

Advertising as social storytelling

The paradigm of marketing as a "conversation with consumers" is way older than the internet. Many ads are designed to tell a story, however brief. If all goes well for the marketer, people respond favorably to the ad, and they get a chance to make a second or third episode. There is a feedback loop here, but it is slow and indirect, more a peeping-tom or sentiment-surfing than actual dialogue.

With the rise of social media comes an increased ability for marketers to really make advertising into an open-ended ongoing conversation with consumers. For example, as reported on
"A great case in point is the recent EA spot for their Tiger Woods golf game. Someone had uploaded a video of Tiger walking on water inside the game, presenting it as an embarrassing glitch. EA and its agency (Wieden + Kennedy) looked at this video and decided to enter the conversation. They shot a live-action spot of Tiger actually walking on water and stated that it wasn't a glitch in the game, Tiger is just that good. Then they uploaded it as a response to the original video on YouTube. This is the kind of social interaction that earns you tons of respect in the digital world. That the video went viral to the tune of several million views and also made everyone aware there was a new version of EA's Tiger Woods golf game was almost a side effect."
It isn't the conversation that is viral, it is the awareness and sensitivity to consumers that is so infectous. So, how does a marketer make an ad campaign into a conversation campaign? The article on goes on to give a number of guidelines:
"1. Look at any marketing effort as the beginning of a conversation.
2. Closely monitor the conversation and be ready to respond to consumers.
3. Provide consumers with tools that help them carry on the conversation for you.
4. Leave room for consumers to interact. Make sure your creative universe is big enough that there are unexplored areas.
5. The conversation is over when the consumers say it is, not when the media plan (or the budget) says it is.
6. Listen and learn from the feedback loop."

I might disagree a bit with the wording in number 5. If you find you have a great story with consumer interest that wanes, why not fire it up again with a new episode? But other than that: spot on!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that might be a great tool for advertisers who would like to use digital media/digital storytelling to. would love to chat with you -- shoot me an e-mail david at heekya dot com