Brands versus Users & the Internet

One of the pervading themes I’ve noticed during the Interactive Festival has been the call for brand authenticity on the Internet. Basically, it’s asking for brands to be transparent with their advertising – no tricks, no fakery, just to be straight-up honest with their intentions to advertise to people.

It’s a noble call, and probably the right call, too. But the problem is that, for many brands, they are still terrified of the web. There’s some valid reasons for this. The web can seem like an advertising gauntlet, with hordes of anonymous, angry users who can write anything they want, say anything they want about anything – including a brand’s next ad campaign or product. This unchecked and unfiltered voice can really make a brand hesitant to advertise without exerting some more control. The web, more and more, is about connecting people to people. Not necessarily people to ads. That’s why you’ll find brands implementing tactics that make brands sound like people.

The Sony PSP campaign is one of the flagship examples. Some kids named Jeremy and Charlie start a blog about how much they love the PSP. Seems pretty innocent. Except the whole thing was created by Sony. In the grand scheme of things, this might seem like not such a big deal. But to regular Internet users this is a cardinal sin. It’s deception at its worse.

There are countless other examples of this, carried out by some big-level brands. HP. Wal-mart. Cisco. ESPN. The list can go on. Is this really all about deception? To a degree, yes. But I think what this is about is more of a rational fear generating irrational tactics. It’s brands learning, through their mistakes, how to find the right way to advertise on this ever-increasing social web.


2 Responses to “Brands versus Users & the Internet”

  1. 1 Matt Hanson March 11, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson

  2. 2 Prentice Howe March 11, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    “Hordes of anonymous, angry users.” This makes me think of cyber-bullying, which is a whole issue unto itself. It has scared off not only marketers, but also individuals. The web allows anyone to rant and rave anonymously; and with this comes no accountability or recourse for their accusations. THE WEEK just ran a story on the number of high school kids that are being threatened and harassed anonymously by classmates. This has led to dropouts and even homeschooling. Translate this back into the marketing world and you can see why brands are now in need of damage control experts. Some of the online chatter is warranted (see Sony’s PSP debacle mentioned within this article) but a lot of it just comes from spineless and faceless loners looking for a soapbox to stir things up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

SXSW is an Austin event. And Door Number 3 is an Austin advertising agency. We're interested in how new ideas in advertising, media and branding will be presented during these 9 quick days. From inside the lecture halls where top specialists present their thoughts, to out on the streets where advertising is put to the test on tens of thousands of festival-goers. We'll be there with the complete coverage, reports, photos, editorials, and perhaps some tricks on how to sneak into a few sweet afterparties.

Door Number 3

RSS Subscribe

Share this Blog

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Got a scoop?

Send Bryan an email.

Join Our List

Want to receive fun, informative content throughout the year that make you a better-informed and more likable person? Email us and we'll put you on our list.

Live SXSW Flickr Feed


%d bloggers like this: