You Win Again

On the heels of Time Magazine kicking up a kerfuffle by dedicating their "Person of the Year" issue to "You", Advertising Age just announced that its pick for Agency of the Year is "The Consumer".

The contention of their editorial is simply that much of the most important commercial content created in the past year was that generated directly by amateurs and consumers.

They cite the infamous "Diet Coke & Mentos Experiment" as an example of the best of consumer-generated media, proclaiming that the success of this entertaining little clip - put together by "pair of Maine theater geeks" - led directly to a 15% spike in sales for Mentos mints.

OK, it's a cheap shot (in many senses), but a smart enough choice and a valid recognition that , at its best, consumer-generated content can have at least as big an impact as the output of traditional, high-cost ad shops.

A couple of key points from the article really resonate for me - they sound so close to some of the things I've been saying at conferences, seminars and in client meetings for the last few years. For example:

"... it's time to give up control and accept that consumers now control their brands. Of course, in some ways, they always have. A brand has only ever been as good as consumers' experience of it. The difference today is that consumers have lots of ways of communicating those experiences, and trust each other's views above marketers' overt sales pitches. Consequently, they're influencing marketing strategy as never before."

It's worth a read.