Like many fads that morph into trends, the rush to give consumers power over just about everything continues to peak as 2007 begins. Everywhere you look, big brands are deeding creative power over to consumers.
It's amazing that people have time to run errands anymore. Among other things, we're asking them to shoot a video for the upcoming Incubus single.
When they finished that project, it was time to write and produce a new jingle for Alka-Seltzer, a follow-up to the famous "Plop Plop" song that was on the tip of America's collective tongue back in the '60s.
And if they hurried, there was just enough time to squeeze in the big Doritos ad for the Super Bowl - clearly a big project on anyone's "to-do list."
You wonder where it's going to end.
Hey, we're co-conspirators in this plot to cede some control to the audience. But can you blame us? How many times in the last year has a client approached us and said, "I have a $7,500 budget for the Fall Book. What can we do that will really make some noise, give us visibility, and build cume?" Give me a break.
There's a point reached where brands - and radio stations - need to wise up about the strengths and limitations of CGM. On the one hand, giving listeners an opportunity to participate is a good thing. But when NeoRadio underscored the importance of giving the audience a seat at the table, it didn't suggest putting them at the head, controlling the menu, and the interior decoration of the dining room.
There's a price to be paid for inviting everyone to participate in the station's programming and marketing.
Second, you have to stay true to your plan to deal listeners in. Too often, stations start an "Ask The PD" or help-us-create-something process, but then the entire campaign runs out of gas. If you ask for input and ideas, there needs to be a logical follow-up and payoff.
Third, your product has to be in place before you start asking for input. If the morning show is fledgling - or just plain mediocre - save the time, money, and aggravation. Preston & Steve or Mark & Brian can ask for creative ideas. But not all morning shows and personalities should be playing the CGM game.
Fourth, don't be afraid to air some laundry, even the dirty stuff. Not all comments are going to be positive, and your CGM campaign will have more credibility if listeners hear kudos and complaints. Address the addressables and let your audience know that you'll fix things that are broken. Chevy learned this the hard way during a recent campaign for their Tahoes. The anti-SUV crowd came out in force.
Finally, be careful what you wish for. If you're asking for ideas and help, there's a certain entertainment value in "Gong Show" type amateur entries. That's what the early "American Idol" shows are about - exposing some of the worst submissions and auditioners. But you also have to have a conclusion, and it's even more credible when the winner is something that listeners actually choose.
Now that everyone's jumping in the CGM pool, radio station programmers and marketers are going to have to do it better, or face getting lost in the meaningless ad campaigns listed above. The bandwagon is getting crowded.