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  1. 1. The “my story” phenomenon: Can companies maintain control in a consumer mediated cyberspace? Angela Carroll : Leeds Metropolitan University Tony Aldred: Leeds University
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Traditional forms of brand communications and the control they bestow on brand owners is under threat </li></ul><ul><li>As consumers join online brand communities, control becomes diffused and consumers gain voice via a medium which represents a unique private/public hybrid </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>A specific trend is the growth of blogging which allows individual consumers to gain authority status among the community </li></ul>
  4. 4. Background <ul><li>Companies attempt to control not only the physical nature and message proposition of brands but the social meanings attributed to them in an attempt to place ownership on consumer lifestyles [Meenaghan, 1998] </li></ul><ul><li>Traditionally this has been achieved by integration and intertextualisation of brand messages across media to develop interconnectedness between brand and popular culture </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>One way, one voice communication intercepted by increasingly marketing literate consumers who are arguably taking control, selectively taking relevant messages for mediation and possible re-interpretation [Aldred and Carroll, 2002] </li></ul><ul><li>Can take place around ‘metaphorical campfires’ [Stockdale, 2001] and more recently via virtual platforms </li></ul>
  6. 6. Concurrent Trends <ul><li>Advertising consumed as entertainment [O’Donohoe, 1997] </li></ul><ul><li>“ Shooting down advertisements” has become a sport [Bond & Kirschenbaum, 1998] </li></ul><ul><li>Brands may acquire positive or negative values amongst peer groups which ultimately results in them being accepted or rejected </li></ul>
  7. 7. Virtual Arena: Implications <ul><li>“ Virtual environments as a platform for relationships” [Mitchell 2000] </li></ul><ul><li>“ A customer mediated environment” [Hoffmann and Novak 1999] </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Reverse marketing’ [Barnett 1998] </li></ul><ul><li>“ Customer controlled interactions” [Evans et al, 2001] </li></ul><ul><li>Growth of unofficial online brand communities [Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001] and progression to adoption of web blogging </li></ul>
  8. 8. Characteristics of Blogs <ul><li>Form of self-publishing which gives individual way to raise their voice via a medium which facilitates an ‘always on, always out there’ public personae [Spero and Stone, 2004] </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages ‘content creation’ to a public audience [Lindstrom, 2004] </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>“ My story” phenomenon which empowers individuals and bestows authority [] </li></ul><ul><li>Communal forum with mutual exchange and critical respect [Walker, 2005] </li></ul><ul><li>Blogosphere as ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing and smear campaigns [Forbes Magazine, 2005] </li></ul>
  10. 10. Who Blogs About Brands? <ul><li>CONSUMERS </li></ul><ul><li>Advocates, Critics, Experts/Authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Community Members, Chatters, Artists </li></ul><ul><li>(pop culture) </li></ul><ul><li>CORPORATE </li></ul><ul><li>Real, Fake, Employee, Media/News, PR </li></ul>
  11. 11. Brand Mediation: Cillit Bang
  12. 12. Brand Mediation:
  13. 13. <ul><li> </li></ul>
  14. 14. Brand Bashing: “Dell Hell” <ul><li>June 2005 Jeff Jarvis complains about Dell on his blog Buzzmachine </li></ul><ul><li>Hundreds and then thousands links, emails and comments from other angry Dell customers > Jarvis becomes spokesperson </li></ul><ul><li>Story covered by American and European press </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li> </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Buzzmachine becomes the key on-line source for consumers with negative perception of Dell customer service </li></ul><ul><li>Buzzmachine ranked eleventh most influential voice on Dell customer service in general </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  17. 17. Blogs: Potential Threat to Brands? <ul><li>Bloggers rely on blogosphere for news and information </li></ul><ul><li>Single sourcing creates authority and “experts” </li></ul><ul><li>Connectedness of the community results in strong affiliation and sense of belonging, cultivating bonds and relationships [Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001] </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>New social terrain representing network of many to many communications [Evans et al, 2001] </li></ul><ul><li>One dissatisfied customer can become thousands in a nano second [Maclaren and Catterall, 2002] </li></ul><ul><li>Unique blend of public and private conversation, weakens or replaces corporately controlled story [Pitta & Fowler, 2005] </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>“ The days of centralised ‘we own the community, we own the brand’ are over. People do it however they want, wherever they want” </li></ul><ul><li>Jeff Jarvis, 2005 </li></ul>
  20. 20. Brands Losing Control: Burberry <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  21. 24. Blogging: Genuine Opportunity? <ul><li>Potential to harness blogging as a positive influence on brand communications [Business Week, 2005] </li></ul><ul><li>Forge relationships with customers, providing means for customer to customer communications which bypasses unsolicited outbound contact [Szmigin et al, 2005] </li></ul>
  22. 25. Creating Community: Microsoft <ul><li> </li></ul>
  23. 26. <ul><li>Opportunity for consumers to contact brand owners in their own time and in their own way </li></ul><ul><li>Need for genuine consumer-centric approach which facilitates amore unfiltered dialogue with public [Maclaren & Catterall, 2002] </li></ul><ul><li>Trust and bonding will not develop if medium is perceived to be too commercialised and hence lacking credibility [Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001] </li></ul>
  24. 27. Fake Corporate Blogs: Barry Scott <ul><li> </li></ul>
  25. 28. <ul><li>Brand owners as mediators of brand communications rather than controllers </li></ul>