It Pays to be First

You know, if I were only just a little more motivated, I’d probably be more successful. Last night while I was sitting at the computer I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if CBS cut a spot for their sports coverage/golf package featuring that great chip-in Tiger shot on 16 this evening?” Well, it turns out, I wasn’t the only person to have this thought. Joseph Jaffe beat me to the punch and actually created the spots, albeit in service to Nike, Tiger’s sponsor, as oppossed to CBS. I had on my TV network hat, hence the difference.

Steve Rubel rightfully defines the execution as an ad, but Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba do him one better and call it citizen marketing. Joseph is no shill for Nike, but he is obviously a fan of Nike, great golf, and Tiger Woods. He also has the speed and agility that an organization like Nike (or CBS) refuse to yield. He saw the obvious implementation and created it immediately. This is the reality for brands in the year 2005.

On any given Sunday (sorry) something spectacular or terrible can happen and your biggest fans or your largest competitors can take up the mantle. Anyone can do it. I didn’t do it because I’m lazy, but I assure you it is possible. Just check out the Contagious Media Showdown. While not solely focused on advertising efforts, it is a contest designed to lure closet meme-producers out into the harsh light of the internet. Joi Ito says the contest has some great sponsors in the blog space and I’m sure the entries will be worth watching, blogging about and passing along. Does contagious media sound worse than viral media to anyone else? Memetic media – is that any better?

All of this shows that marketers, advertisers – anyone with a brand, really – needs to be thinking about the ease and speed with which these messages can be produced and disseminated. If you’re not doing it, why not? Someone else is, and probably to great results.

Even Burger King continues their exploitation of being fast, first and funny. Their fake 911 audio piece is getting lots of play on the blogosphere and that’s a key element here. If you create something, make it short, memorable and easily passed along. Marketing Sherpa has a great article on the key components of such implementations.

In the end, the key to branding and success in the 21st century is openness. Be open about your brand and let your customers do their thing. Be open yourself and try new things; funny things. Be open to whatever is next, and don’t cling too hard to the old, because sooner or later what worked before is simply history.

And I’m betting that Jaffe’s video, along with the uncut video of that shot, are sure winners today and the rest of this week. Sports, reality TV, found video and personal home video are sure winners online.

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