Makers Of Media, Please Stand And Identify Yourselves

It was fortunate that Ad Age had a reporter in place to hear Ted McConnell, general manager-interactive marketing and innovation at Procter & Gamble Co. speak at a Nov. 15 forum on digital media presented by the Ad Club of Cincinnati
Let’s examine his radical humanist point of view:

Mr. McConnell pointed to the drumbeat of complaints about social networks being unable to monetize their sites. “I have a reaction to that as a consumer advocate and an advertiser,” he said. “What in heaven’s name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?”
He went on to apply a similar standard to the broader world of consumer-generated media. “I think when we call it ‘consumer-generated media,’ we’re being predatory,” he said. “Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell. Media contains inventory. Media contains blank spaces. Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant. … We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”

There’s something incredibly refreshing here. People are people first, then they’re customers and/or members of a desired demographic. However, there could also be a hint of elitism. A citizen of our technically enabled democracy can certainly make media, intentionally and otherwise.
Of course, I’m thinking of “media” in looser, McLuhanian terms. He said media is an extension of man, which leaves it pretty open.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Well said, McConnell.
    The risks are so much higher. If my TV spot is bad, I stand between you and a bit more of the office. If my social networking ad is distracting I’m now keeping you from your friends and family. Ouch.
    I’ve been encouraging my cohorts to stop saying “users,” “consumers,” or “audience” and start saying “people.” You’d be amazed how this changes the impact and conditions of your statements.

  2. Stu Sutcliffe says:

    Who knows, one of these days we might even realize that the most honest thing we can do is produce advertising. Like a commercial. Or an ad. And make them interesting enough that a consumer does not resent it or TIVO it. Then maybe we won’t have to feel quite so compelled to put our clients logos on pregnant women’s bellies and call it “cool”.

  3. I might have bought the perspective coming from anyone besides a P&G executive. The mega-advertiser has hardly been shy about turning any physical space into an advertising vehicle. So it’s only appropriate that they will do likewise in the digital space. It’s time for everyone to get over the sacred nature of privacy, whether it’s digital, physical or whatever. Advertisers are desperate to sell, and they’ll invade your most intimate spaces to brand their logos. It will only get worse in the coming years, as making sales becomes even more imperative.

  4. So true. And so sad. Everywhere we go there is advertising encroaching onto/into our personal space.. (and most of it subconciously). We can’t lose the essence of life and be “bought”, or can we? It seems that we as a people are battling to stand up to the enticing offers and are even joining the trend..

  5. Great post. I think for the majority of marketers they see social as nothing more than a tool to serve their purposes. But it’s no different than before–it’s still selfish and self serving marketing with little regard for people (not consumers). It’s just more glaring with social media–and somehow more gross.
    @HighJive: Good point about the source. But just because advertisers are desperate to sell doesn’t mean I should get over my sacred nature of privacy, right? I wouldn’t let these types of things go on in my living room, so why should I just resign to it’s inevitability online? Maybe because it HAS to be that way in order to use free tools?

  6. Josh,
    Actually, my phrasing probably came off wrong. Really meant to say that the public will have to put up with advertisers encroaching all spaces, personal or not. And yes, I think as long as an online space is free, we can expect to be invaded. In those scenarios, however, you must also blame the space creator/owner for permitting the advertisers to appear. The kid who invented Facebook, for example, didn’t do it for non-profit reasons. Everyone’s trying to make a buck. We’re being viewed as potential revenue generators.