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Marketing imitates art. Badly.

First, let it be said that I am a big fan of M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village and so on). I was however very disappointed by the Australian digital promotion for his latest film, ‘The Happening’. You can check it out at the website or on YouTube.

Credit where credit is due, it’s great to see the promoters doing something for the Australian market beyond simply changing each ‘z’ in their film website to an ‘s’. However, what they decided to do was to create a Flash Mob ‘happening’ in Pitt Street Mall and film the crowd response. Again, I can definitely see the connection to the film. My only issue is this…

Compare their promotion to the ‘Frozen in NYC Central Station’ performance art piece that has been making the rounds (and currently has twelve million views on YouTube). They are practically identical, with two important differences. One was original and one was not. And one is more engaging than the other in pretty much every way. If you haven’t seen them both, I’ll let you have a look and decide which is which.

I love the appropriation of culture (and art specifically) into marketing. And I love the co-opting of marketing and advertising for artistic purposes. The mingling of discourses challenges and enriches both sides of the fence. What is disappointing to see is the wholesale copy of art into marketing with no attempt to add anything – and usually a dilution of the power and engagement of the idea. In an world when avant garde art was retricted to uber-trendy art factories on the lower east side, you could safely bet that most of your customers hadn’t seen the works that your marketing was riffing (or ripping) off. In a world of YouTube and Google, you no longer have that luxury.

Let’s bring more from art to marketing that a carbon copy (apologies to Warhol, crown price of carbon copying). Let’s bring the creativity, the passion, the lack of restraint. Now that sounds like fun! – brett

[This entry is cross-posted on the Naked Communications Australia blog.]

Quarterly Marketing Cycles

Around this time of year, as many clients are mired in the arduous process of getting annual marketing plans signed off, I always have the same realisation. That this will be another year that such-and-such client will destroy any chance they have of doing anything really innovative because of the speed mandated by an annual marketing cycle. They treat managing a big brand like captaining a big ship – it takes a long time to change course, and if you hit anything you are pretty much screwed. This may not have been a problem ten years ago, these days (particularly within the digital space) it is the reason that every Goliath needs to be terrified of the many Davids just itching to take them down.

I was talking to a very on-the-ball client last year, and we discussed this problem. I told them that if they wanted to make a difference, if they wanted to really and seriously leave their competitors in the dust, they just needed to one thing… change from an anual marketing cycle to a quarterly one. Revisit strategy, spending, the lot, every three months (hell, why not make it two). I realise it’s impossible for most big companies, but if they can find a way to embrace that speed of change internally it will finally equip them to capitalise on the equally rapid pace in the external communications environment.