War of the Worlds<br />and the new principles of brand communication <br />Ian Thomas<br />www.newtradition.co.uk<br />
Back in 1938 – on the eve of war in Europe – a radio broadcast by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre Company  caused widespread...
Their production of H G Wells’s ‘War of the Worlds’ began – without any formal announcement – with a series of ‘eyewitness...
It’s an event that provided<br />momentum to a – now extensively debated – ‘hypodermic syringe model’ of mass media effect...
It’s a model which suggests that,<br />if you possess the means to generate and control delivery of content...<br />
…then you enjoy a powerful<br />position of control in relation to the recipient – and even over them<br />
But it is a pervasive idea<br />
It’s why a promotional model of communication – which helped<br />spawn the world’s advertising and public relations indus...
It’s why entire industries of media organisations exist to sample and judge the content that is suitable for mass consumpt...
But I’m not sure the ‘War of the Worlds’ example is just about media effects<br />
Boundaries<br />
Boundaries<br />It was alsoabout the way in which traditional boundaries – like the continuity announcement between progra...
In other words, Welles and the Mercury Theatre Company deliberately disrupted the conventions of continuity<br />
And that had the effect of blurring the distinction between fiction and reality, and between broadcaster and listener<br />
Welles successfully traversed the boundaries of convention – as well as the apparent physical barrier between the radio-se...
So if you tuned in, you became part of Welles’s drama – just as the headlines show<br />
So let’s fast forward to 2010<br />
Rapid changes in media consumption mean audiences are able to subject brands and media owners to the kind of experience We...
Because media consumption preference are profoundly shifting, it’s creating an increasingly fragmented and ‘lawless’ envir...
Not only that, but the ease with which individuals can access publishing platforms means that fans and critics alike, have...
But what’s happened and why?<br />
I’d suggest that there are three converging reasons for this<br />
The first is the banking crisis and the subsequent crisis of trust among consumers over the integrity of corporate governa...
Almost overnight, people who felt<br />relatively secure, suddenly lost their sense<br />of security and the comfort of co...
And the reason for that was the<br />apparently irresponsible behaviour of financial services businesses<br />
But the effect has been to generate a widespread sense of distrust of business in general – and not just financial service...
Second, there’s been a huge growth in use of mobile platforms and devices which effectively disintermediate traditional me...
No longer do you have to sit by a radio or in front of a TV or pick up a newspaper in order to gain access to content<br />
All the information you may need is probably in the palm of your hands<br />
And then there has been the technological and social phenomenon of the rise of the social web<br />
Free to use and easily accessible, the social web has encouraged individuals to formalise offline social connections via w...
Enabling individuals to publish and share content entirely free of charge<br />
So not only do you possess the<br />potential to access the content you want<br />via the media you want, when you want<br />
It’s highly likely that your networks<br />have become increasingly influential in editorialising your consumption of cont...
All this has serious repercussions for organisations and businesses who are keen to manage the reputations of their brands...
Because it means organisations and<br />businesses need to consider the very idea of brand ownership and control. Put anot...
What makes you<br />think it’s your brand?<br />
The way in which individuals used the social web to adopt, adapt and propagate Obama’s campaign message – without losing t...
Whether Obama’s <br />team intended it to happen or not, they did not appear to behave like a conventional brand owner and...
Obama’08 serves as an example of an emerging approach to brands and branding – the ‘adaptive brand’<br />
It requires organisations behind the brands to relinquish the idea of ‘control’ and, instead, adapt to a continually chang...
Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy to tolerate or results in positive or desirable reputational outcomes<br />
But in an environment where peoples’ trust in the motives,<br />claims and behaviour of organisations and brands has becom...
How can a brand gain trust when <br />95% of consumers already distrust<br />their advertising and promotions?<br />Here a...
From push to share<br />
In the past, organisations enjoyed the ability to dictate the terms of engagement for the people that used their products ...
Consumers had to to dial in to a customer service phone number<br />
Or write a letter – or e-mail – to a particular address for complaints, help and information<br />
Sharing means organisations<br />are able to adopt more transparent means of support<br />
Not only do these<br />encourage peer-to-peer<br />customer self-service<br />
but they also deliver a rich<br />source of insight about a business’s product and service<br />
Brands like Threadless<br />are going a step further<br />
They are setting up<br />customer support where their customers are likely to be<br />
Rather than insisting that<br />their customers visit a destination elsewhere on the web<br />
From promotion to propagation<br />
T-Mobile has embraced the<br />idea of propagation by creating participative events which encourage participants to share ...
Participants voluntarily ‘seed’<br />links and mentions via their social web statuses and activity. In turn, this generate...
But propagation strategies<br />don’t necessarily require<br />huge levels of investment<br />in production<br />
Twibbon enables<br />organisations to create<br />‘ribbons’ for Twitter avatars<br />
Enabling Twitter users to<br />display their support for a<br />cause, event or idea<br />
Twibbons can be created either free of charge or at low cost<br />
And propagation by<br />supporters is, of course, free<br />
From purchase to participation<br />82% of people are more likely to tell<br />others about products or services which<br ...
Organisations and brands have relied heavily on market research to test potential products or services <br />
But organisations like Lego has<br />begun to encourage their fans to<br />create and share their ideas<br />
Not only does it provide Lego with new product development ideas<br />
It also encourages Lego<br />fans to feel part of the brand<br />
Research by Alterian suggests<br />that participants in product development are more likely to tell their social connectio...
In addition to the ubiquitous iPod and sensor, Nike have built an iPhone app which helps runners create and monitor runnin...
It’s an example of how brands are increasingly using technology to help consumers do what they want to do and so build aff...
It’s a strategy in keeping with John Kay’s idea of ‘obliquity’: Nike and Apple are not directly pushing their products, th...
Brands themselves are also able to grow thanks to participation of both individuals and businesses<br />
Open source platforms like<br />Facebook have enabled developers to build businesses and enrich<br />the features, applica...
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has recently suggested that the popularity of applications like Zynga’s Farmville have been a b...
From generation to association<br />
The fragmentation of media has created collaborative ways in which both brands and artists are able to create and associat...
Steve Coogan and Armando Iannuci’s ‘Mid Morning Matters’ is original content that is created in collaboration with Fosters...
It enables Coogan and Ianucci to create original content in a format that does not suit traditional broadcasting – episode...
And it allows Fosters to expand its<br />existing association with comedy but<br />in a role that’s more akin to a ‘patron...
Elsewhere, ‘Stormys in a Teacup’ <br />is a photographic caper that is being produced in aid of Shelter<br />
But the Shelter story is simply an extension of Stormys existing photo series which, by all appearances, is a just-for-fun...
Seeking out like-minded<br /> people and organisations, or<br />inspiring and interesting ideas <br />with an existing fol...
..is likely to yield a lower cost and more compelling way to easily communicate or associate your organisation or brands w...
How can a brand gain trust when <br />95% of consumers already distrust<br />their advertising and promotions?<br />Here a...
Share<br />Participate<br />Propagate<br />Associate<br />
Picture credits and links<br />War of the Worlds<br />and the new principles<br /> of brand communication<br />by Ian Thom...
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War of the Worlds and the new brand principles

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This is the annotated version of my presentation on the future of brand communications strategy.

It was written for the Breakfast At Jerwood event at The Jerwood Space, London, on 2 December 2010.

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  • you enjoy a powerful role in relation to the recipient
  • It’s why a promotional model of communication – which has spawned advertising and media relations industry – exists
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Because people’s media consumption preferences have shifted, it’s created an increasingly fragmented and lawless environment in which to manage. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • Because people’s media consumption preferences have shifted, it’s created an increasingly fragmented and lawless environment in which to manage. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx.
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • s. Overnight, people who were relatively secure became insecure and the reason for that was the behaviour of businesses.
  • s. and the reason for that was the behaviour of businesses.
  • s.
  • s.
  • . No longer did you have to be by a radio, sit in front of a TV or pick up a newspaper to access content. It’s in the palm of your hands.
  • It’s in the palm of your hands.
  • . So not only to you possess the potential to access the content you want via the media you want when you want, it’s highly likely that your networks have become increasingly influential in editorialising your consumption of content.
  • . So not only to you possess the potential to access the content you want via the media you want when you want, it’s highly likely that your networks have become increasingly influential in editorialising your consumption of content.
  • . So not only to you possess the potential to access the content you want via the media you want when you want, it’s highly likely that your networks have become increasingly influential in editorialising your consumption of content.
  • . , it’s highly likely that your networks have become increasingly influential in editorialising your consumption of content.
  • . ,
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Because people’s media consumption preferences have shifted, it’s created an increasingly fragmented and lawless environment in which to manage. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Because people’s media consumption preferences have shifted, it’s created an increasingly fragmented and lawless environment in which to manage. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • This rapid shift in media consumption has done to brands and media owners as Welles did on his audience back in 19xx. Because people’s media consumption preferences have shifted, it’s created an increasingly fragmented and lawless environment in which to manage. Not only that, but the ease of access for individuals to social platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you know it or not.
  • The effect looked something like this. (check whether Mike mentions this). The cultural influence of the platforms has been huge. These days don’t have customers, they have fans, followers and they’re liked.example of an emerging idea of an ‘adaptive brand’
  • The effect looked something like this. (check whether Mike mentions this). The cultural influence of the platforms has been huge. These days don’t have customers, they have fans, followers and they’re liked.
  • The effect looked something like this. (check whether Mike mentions this). The cultural influence of the platforms has been huge. These days don’t have customers, they have fans, followers and they’re liked.
  • The effect looked something like this. (check whether Mike mentions this). The cultural influence of the platforms has been huge. These days don’t have customers, they have fans, followers and they’re liked.
  • Except when they’re not. Of course there’s nothing new in this as an activity, but it’s the pace with which symbols, ideas, hunches and view can propogate that is hugely significant. Ironically, Gap’s recent run in with thousands of irate fans over its apparent new logo was probably more of a back-handed compliment. Hundreds of designers cared enough about what Gap had done to convince them that it wasn’t such a great idea.
  • Except when they’re not. Of course there’s nothing new in this as an activity, but it’s the pace with which symbols, ideas, hunches and view can propogate that is hugely significant. Ironically, Gap’s recent run in with thousands of irate fans over its apparent new logo was probably more of a back-handed compliment. Hundreds of designers cared enough about what Gap had done to convince them that it wasn’t such a great idea.
  • ,but they also deliver a rich source of insight and understanding about a businesses product and service
  • ,
  • and ‘oblique’ strategy which
  • and ‘oblique’ strategy which
  • that are out there is likely to be more rewarding than investing
  • that are out there is likely to be more rewarding than investing
  • War of the Worlds and the new brand principles

    1. 1. War of the Worlds<br />and the new principles of brand communication <br />Ian Thomas<br />www.newtradition.co.uk<br />
    2. 2. Back in 1938 – on the eve of war in Europe – a radio broadcast by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre Company caused widespread panic in the USA<br />
    3. 3. Their production of H G Wells’s ‘War of the Worlds’ began – without any formal announcement – with a series of ‘eyewitness’ reports of Martian landings<br />
    4. 4. It’s an event that provided<br />momentum to a – now extensively debated – ‘hypodermic syringe model’ of mass media effects<br />
    5. 5. It’s a model which suggests that,<br />if you possess the means to generate and control delivery of content...<br />
    6. 6. …then you enjoy a powerful<br />position of control in relation to the recipient – and even over them<br />
    7. 7. But it is a pervasive idea<br />
    8. 8. It’s why a promotional model of communication – which helped<br />spawn the world’s advertising and public relations industries – exists<br />
    9. 9. It’s why entire industries of media organisations exist to sample and judge the content that is suitable for mass consumption<br />
    10. 10. But I’m not sure the ‘War of the Worlds’ example is just about media effects<br />
    11. 11. Boundaries<br />
    12. 12. Boundaries<br />It was alsoabout the way in which traditional boundaries – like the continuity announcement between programmes – were disregarded in order to play with listener emotions<br />
    13. 13. In other words, Welles and the Mercury Theatre Company deliberately disrupted the conventions of continuity<br />
    14. 14. And that had the effect of blurring the distinction between fiction and reality, and between broadcaster and listener<br />
    15. 15. Welles successfully traversed the boundaries of convention – as well as the apparent physical barrier between the radio-set and the listener<br />
    16. 16. So if you tuned in, you became part of Welles’s drama – just as the headlines show<br />
    17. 17. So let’s fast forward to 2010<br />
    18. 18. Rapid changes in media consumption mean audiences are able to subject brands and media owners to the kind of experience Welles exacted upon on his audience back in 1938 <br />
    19. 19. Because media consumption preference are profoundly shifting, it’s creating an increasingly fragmented and ‘lawless’ environment in which it is impossible to successfully exert<br />any kind of reputational ‘control’<br />
    20. 20. Not only that, but the ease with which individuals can access publishing platforms means that fans and critics alike, have the potential to influence your reputation whether you like it or not<br />
    21. 21. But what’s happened and why?<br />
    22. 22. I’d suggest that there are three converging reasons for this<br />
    23. 23. The first is the banking crisis and the subsequent crisis of trust among consumers over the integrity of corporate governance <br />
    24. 24. Almost overnight, people who felt<br />relatively secure, suddenly lost their sense<br />of security and the comfort of continuity<br />
    25. 25. And the reason for that was the<br />apparently irresponsible behaviour of financial services businesses<br />
    26. 26. But the effect has been to generate a widespread sense of distrust of business in general – and not just financial services businesses or the private sector<br />
    27. 27. Second, there’s been a huge growth in use of mobile platforms and devices which effectively disintermediate traditional media formats and channels<br />
    28. 28. No longer do you have to sit by a radio or in front of a TV or pick up a newspaper in order to gain access to content<br />
    29. 29. All the information you may need is probably in the palm of your hands<br />
    30. 30. And then there has been the technological and social phenomenon of the rise of the social web<br />
    31. 31. Free to use and easily accessible, the social web has encouraged individuals to formalise offline social connections via web platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter<br />
    32. 32. Enabling individuals to publish and share content entirely free of charge<br />
    33. 33. So not only do you possess the<br />potential to access the content you want<br />via the media you want, when you want<br />
    34. 34. It’s highly likely that your networks<br />have become increasingly influential in editorialising your consumption of content<br />
    35. 35. All this has serious repercussions for organisations and businesses who are keen to manage the reputations of their brands. And why?<br />
    36. 36. Because it means organisations and<br />businesses need to consider the very idea of brand ownership and control. Put another way…<br />
    37. 37. What makes you<br />think it’s your brand?<br />
    38. 38. The way in which individuals used the social web to adopt, adapt and propagate Obama’s campaign message – without losing the tone of his appeal – is remarkable<br />
    39. 39. Whether Obama’s <br />team intended it to happen or not, they did not appear to behave like a conventional brand owner and seek to prevent it from happening<br />
    40. 40. Obama’08 serves as an example of an emerging approach to brands and branding – the ‘adaptive brand’<br />
    41. 41. It requires organisations behind the brands to relinquish the idea of ‘control’ and, instead, adapt to a continually changing social landscape in which brands are merely participants<br />
    42. 42. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy to tolerate or results in positive or desirable reputational outcomes<br />
    43. 43. But in an environment where peoples’ trust in the motives,<br />claims and behaviour of organisations and brands has become so easy to express and spread…<br />
    44. 44. How can a brand gain trust when <br />95% of consumers already distrust<br />their advertising and promotions?<br />Here are some suggested principles<br />
    45. 45. From push to share<br />
    46. 46. In the past, organisations enjoyed the ability to dictate the terms of engagement for the people that used their products and services<br />
    47. 47. Consumers had to to dial in to a customer service phone number<br />
    48. 48. Or write a letter – or e-mail – to a particular address for complaints, help and information<br />
    49. 49. Sharing means organisations<br />are able to adopt more transparent means of support<br />
    50. 50. Not only do these<br />encourage peer-to-peer<br />customer self-service<br />
    51. 51. but they also deliver a rich<br />source of insight about a business’s product and service<br />
    52. 52. Brands like Threadless<br />are going a step further<br />
    53. 53. They are setting up<br />customer support where their customers are likely to be<br />
    54. 54. Rather than insisting that<br />their customers visit a destination elsewhere on the web<br />
    55. 55. From promotion to propagation<br />
    56. 56. T-Mobile has embraced the<br />idea of propagation by creating participative events which encourage participants to share their role in the event with others<br />in their social groups<br />
    57. 57. Participants voluntarily ‘seed’<br />links and mentions via their social web statuses and activity. In turn, this generates what’s described as ‘earned media’ coverage (but is, frankly, just ‘word-of-mouth’.)<br />
    58. 58. But propagation strategies<br />don’t necessarily require<br />huge levels of investment<br />in production<br />
    59. 59. Twibbon enables<br />organisations to create<br />‘ribbons’ for Twitter avatars<br />
    60. 60. Enabling Twitter users to<br />display their support for a<br />cause, event or idea<br />
    61. 61. Twibbons can be created either free of charge or at low cost<br />
    62. 62. And propagation by<br />supporters is, of course, free<br />
    63. 63. From purchase to participation<br />82% of people are more likely to tell<br />others about products or services which<br />they have helped brands design<br />
    64. 64. Organisations and brands have relied heavily on market research to test potential products or services <br />
    65. 65. But organisations like Lego has<br />begun to encourage their fans to<br />create and share their ideas<br />
    66. 66. Not only does it provide Lego with new product development ideas<br />
    67. 67. It also encourages Lego<br />fans to feel part of the brand<br />
    68. 68. Research by Alterian suggests<br />that participants in product development are more likely to tell their social connections about the resulting product or service<br />
    69. 69. In addition to the ubiquitous iPod and sensor, Nike have built an iPhone app which helps runners create and monitor running routes <br />
    70. 70. It’s an example of how brands are increasingly using technology to help consumers do what they want to do and so build affinity with their brand<br />
    71. 71. It’s a strategy in keeping with John Kay’s idea of ‘obliquity’: Nike and Apple are not directly pushing their products, they are cementing a connection with a consumer who may or may not purchase a product at a later date<br />
    72. 72. Brands themselves are also able to grow thanks to participation of both individuals and businesses<br />
    73. 73. Open source platforms like<br />Facebook have enabled developers to build businesses and enrich<br />the features, applications and tools<br />of Facebook itself<br />
    74. 74. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has recently suggested that the popularity of applications like Zynga’s Farmville have been a big factor in the growth of Facebook’s user population<br />
    75. 75. From generation to association<br />
    76. 76. The fragmentation of media has created collaborative ways in which both brands and artists are able to create and associate with original content<br />
    77. 77. Steve Coogan and Armando Iannuci’s ‘Mid Morning Matters’ is original content that is created in collaboration with Fosters<br />
    78. 78. It enables Coogan and Ianucci to create original content in a format that does not suit traditional broadcasting – episodes are approximately 13 mins long, for instance<br />
    79. 79. And it allows Fosters to expand its<br />existing association with comedy but<br />in a role that’s more akin to a ‘patron<br />of the arts’ than a sponsor<br />
    80. 80. Elsewhere, ‘Stormys in a Teacup’ <br />is a photographic caper that is being produced in aid of Shelter<br />
    81. 81. But the Shelter story is simply an extension of Stormys existing photo series which, by all appearances, is a just-for-fun project<br />
    82. 82. Seeking out like-minded<br /> people and organisations, or<br />inspiring and interesting ideas <br />with an existing following…<br />
    83. 83. ..is likely to yield a lower cost and more compelling way to easily communicate or associate your organisation or brands with ideas worth spreading<br />
    84. 84. How can a brand gain trust when <br />95% of consumers already distrust<br />their advertising and promotions?<br />Here are those principles again…<br />
    85. 85. Share<br />Participate<br />Propagate<br />Associate<br />
    86. 86. Picture credits and links<br />War of the Worlds<br />and the new principles<br /> of brand communication<br />by Ian Thomas<br />@mrianthomas<br />@newtradition_<br />www.newtradition.co.uk<br />New York Times headline image from Denofmystery.blogsport.com'Buckshot: War of the Worlds’<br />Syringe image: Thomas Weidenhaupt at Flickr<br />Money note image: PhotoGraham at Flickr<br />iPhone image: William Hook at Flickr<br />Obama campaign images (from top left to right): Official campaign logo from ‘Obama logo ideas that weren’t chosen’ at Logo Design Love; ‘New Game’ from piccsy.com; ‘Stonewashed’ from Cafepress images; ‘Obama Pride’ from BarackObama.com; ‘Fuzzy felt’ by Boltron on Flickr; ‘B&W button badge’ from Koolbadges; ‘Donut’ from Profy.com; ‘Hope’ poster art from Highsnobiety.com; ‘Hope’ by Shepherd Fairey from Marksandmeaning.com; ‘The Dream’ by Ray Noland from Gotellmama.org<br />Avatars via (from left to right) Greenpeace.org/kitkat; @BPGlobalPR and the UK’s Creative Review<br />Call Centre image from Nationwide media centre library<br />Screengrab of Apple UK iPhone support at Apple.com/uk<br />Screengrab of Threadless support at Facebook.com/Threadless<br />T-Mobile images: Main image (left) from Theapofcrap.com; (Top right) Screengrab of T-Mobile YouTube channel; Screengrab of Guardian.co.uk coverage (bottom right)<br />Screengrab of Twibbon.com<br />Mad Men focus group image via IliketowatchTV.blogspot.com<br />Screengrab of Lego UK’s Create and Share<br />Screengrab of Nike UK’s Nike+ iPhone app<br />Screengrab of Zynga’sFarmville homepage<br />Screengrab of ‘Mid Morning Matters’ at Fostersfunny.co.uk’s YouTube channel<br />Stormys and a guiness from Stormy Little AdventuresandStormys in a Teacup<br />1<br />4-9<br />23-26<br />27-29<br />38-41<br />42-43<br />46-48<br />49-51<br />52-54<br />56-57<br />58-62<br />64<br />65-68<br />69-71<br />72-74<br />76-79<br />80-83<br />References<br />1<br />44, 64,<br />68 & 84<br />74 <br />‘Obliquity’ by John Kay (Profile Books, 2010): At Amazon<br />Statistics drawn from research published in Alterian’s ‘Your brand. At risk or ready for growth?’ Downloadable at Alterian.com<br />Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on role of gaming in Facebook’s growth were made at the Web 2.0 Summit (15-17 Nov 2010)<br />
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