Coca-Cola is not the only marketer dealing with marketing it did not ask for. New ads and ideas for campaigns are increasingly popping up without client or agency involvement, whether online, on television or metaphorically nailed to boardroom doors.
Various people with diverse motives are behind the proliferation of vigilante marketing. They are freelancers and fans – even agencies – looking for accounts, and they have shown up this year to advertise or try to advertise products as they see fit.
[…] There are also agencies and creative executives working on what might be called superspeculation, like the team at Vaughn Whelan & Partners in Toronto. It does not work for Molson, but nonetheless created a commercial for Molson Canadian beer and put it on television in October.
“I had an idea that I’d actually been fostering for some time that was perfect for this brand,” said Vaughn Whelan, president and creative director. “My goal was to get one hour in their boardroom and show them five years of advertising, so they could see the future.”
The 60-second commercial, which was an effort to move away from typical beer marketing, showed a bike messenger fighting to persuade the Canadian government to let him deduct his daily food costs as “fuel” on his taxes. It ended with the line: “Respect. It’s a Canadian thing.”
Wary of potential legal issues, Mr. Whelan consulted with several lawyers and informed Molson executives before the spot appeared. After it ran twice, as planned, Mr. Whelan said, “They gave me a letter saying take it off the air.” (Like the unsanctioned iPod Mini commercial, however, it drew the kind of added exposure that publicists call “earned media” – free exposure in the news pages of newspapers like The National Post in Toronto and The New York Post.)
[…] “If Madison Avenue is no longer the evangelist for creative thinking in America, then somebody has to take up that cause,” Mr. Webber said. “That is the calling of all creative people, not just people who work for ad agencies.” Mr. Webber has another motive for wanting to see Coke sales rise: he owns stock in the company. But he is a longtime agency creative executive as well, who helped develop, among other campaign themes, “I am stuck on Band-Aid.”
James B. Twitchell, professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida in Gainesville, agreed that the cultural power of advertising made it hard for creative people to ignore. “If I want to be creative, that’s the place I’m going to go,” he said. “It’s not so much that I want to sell the product, or even care about the product, but it’s where our shared storehouse of stories is.”
Later: the flip side — Marketing’s Flip Side: The ‘Determined Detractor’
“One determined detractor can do as much damage as 100,000 positive mentions can do good,” said Paul Rand, managing director at Ketchum Midwest in Chicago, part of the Omnicom Group. “In the same way that we need to understand who the positive influencers are, it is becoming even more critical to identify and manage determined detractors.”
“The technology puts the power of the press into the hands of the everyman,” he added.