Some Perspective Please

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba have extended the idea of citizen journalism to the field of marketing. On their blog, Church of the Customer, they wax poetic about where they see this new development going.
“Traditional media structures are undergoing vast molecular changes that decentralize their power, diminish their reach and usurp their authority. This bubbling stew of change is creating the DNA for a new forum of marketing unlike any other. It may make brand managers accustomed to top-down message control blanch, but it’s too late. The construct is set. Message control is obsolete. Marketing control is futile.
The citizen marketers are here.”
One example of citizen marketing they offer up is the case of George Masters, the California school teacher who spent five months making a graphically rich TV spot for Apple. The thing that gets me about all this speculation and unwarranted exuberance is the assumption that Masters, and others like him, are actually offering their work to the client in question. They’re not. The motivation is purely personal. Masters and the creative team behind the suicide bomber spot for VW that bounced around the web recently made their spots to showcase their abilities. That’s all. There’s nothing more to it.
How this central fact in this ongoing story has been overlooked is the part I’m most interested in exploring. It seems to me that several smart people who happen to blog (and the journalists who read them) are getting caught up in the blog bubble. It reminds me of the late 1990s when everyone with a half-baked web-based business idea thought their fortune was lurking around the next corner. We know how that worked out. So this is my message to my fellow bloggers–step away from the computer for a minute and realize that blogs, and the citizens behind them, are not poised to dethrone traditional journalism, any more than Final Cut Pro-equipped brand evangelists are due to overthrow traditional marketing.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.