Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's looking more like a street fight every day.

In the free-for-all, wild-west world of participatory media it looks like at least one brand has taken to the street to throw a cheapshot. Here is one, by Motorola as reported by The Korean Times:

Motorola Suspected of Samsung Sabotage
A woman snaps Samsung’s Ultra Edition mobile phone in half in this video clip posted on youtube.com last week. The Web site said that Motorola holds the copyright of the video file, which Samsung claims is fabricated.
Motorola was behind the production of an Internet video clip mocking Samsung Electronics’ slim mobile phone ``Ultra,’’ according to the Web site that first showed it.
Youtube.com, a popular video blog service in the United States, said Motorola is responsible for the video though it didn’t intended to circulate it.

The 15-second video clip entitled ``Samsung handset, easy to break at one try!’’ has been circulating on the Internet since last week. It shows a smiling young woman snapping Samsung’s 6.9-milimeter-thick mobile phone in two.




I see a lot of pieces, like this one, whose source I question. Is it the work of someone just poking fun or is the intention more sinister and corporate in origin?



In my post on the Snickers' word campaign I pointed out a number of shortsighted moves that a competitor could have exploited. This could have have been done so in a manner that was legal and defensive in nature or pushed way past the bounds of ethical business behavior. (Given the use of Bart Simpson as a spokeperson, Butterfinger could have had a lot of fun that was "on brand".)

I've thought about marketing myself as a "create agent of communications mayhem". An off-the-reservation, off-the-radar, CIA spook style operative that (for an envelope full of money delivered to a Port Authority locker) will engage in dumpster-diving, black helicopter, 3 cushion shot, brand manuvers.

Most agency account people aren't saavy enough to see the angles or have the guts to enter the fray on the mean streets of the new media world.

All bravado aside, I think there is a place for such guerrilla tactics in the world of participatory media. One of the problems presented by the new commuications landscape is that companies are no longer the sole creators and controllers of messaging that references their products. That "landscape of communications" if filled with content that is edgier, stronger in point-of-view, and more risk taking than the kids gloves, needle-tickling work produced by agencies.

(TangRant: People have been talking about a creative drought in the industry for years. That's bullshit. What there is, are layers of corporate agency heirarchy that stifles life, spineless account people and a lack of stratic thinking to properly focus creative. When I look at the pages or blogs and the videos on YouTube I see a world teaming with creativity. A lot of it done by people with agency day jobs.)

Aggressive messaging, one product taking on another directly, is not a foreign concept in traditional advertising. Here is one several years old from Apple:



I'm really not sure what the legal and ethical boundries are for referencing other brands in adertising are. From what I see in this Apple spot its not illegal to mention other brands and even portray them in a disparaging light.

In the months and years to come you can be sure that we will see much more work that tests those lines.

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