I like to think it all starts with Johnny Rotten, that he was the one who started the great wave of cocreation now so obvious in the world of marketing. But that’s probably wrong. Probably, it was Sid Vicious.
Or maybe it wasn’t punks at all who encouraged all the world to storm elite barricades and insist that any everyman (and woman) may participate in the creation of culture.
Whatever its origins, cocreation is now one of the absolute truths of the world of marketing, the new orthodoxy. Cocreation is the surest way to get heads nodding at a conference or on a blog.
It’s all over the web, to be sure. I was visiting the cocreation sites created by Oreo, Oscar Mayer and Alka Seltzer a couple of days ago All of them invite the consumer to bang off a jingle or a song, upload it to the website and win big prizes.
Plop plop fizz fizz is the Alka Seltzer site and it now features the winner of their "battle of the bands" contest. I am not crazy about the winner’s song. It feels (to me) like the brand has shouldered it’s way into a rock idiom, but that it will never be at truly at home there. But again that’s just me.
Oreo has announced the 5 winners of their jingle contest. One of them will win $10,000 in prize money. Oscar Mayer is tying their contest to an American Idol theme.
Having a look round I couldn’t help thinking about the first rule of marketing. It is, of course, the consumer is king, something marketers have been telling one another since 1912. We have been worked on variations on this notion since, including that we must be consumer sensitive, consumer centric, consumer consulting. All of this work in marketing comes down to this: it’s about the consumer, it’s not about us.
Cocreation sometimes forgets this, I think. When we’ve got people creating jingles for us, it’s suddenly all about the corporation again. Yes, we reach out to the consumer, but only so that they can help us build the brand. It’s distressingly like that old joke: "Well, enough about me. What about you? What do you think about me?" We have been concentrating on making about the consumer for roughly a hundred years, and what do we do with the new media marketing? We make it about the corporation again.
I’m not saying cocreation is a bad idea. I’m just wondering whether we shouldn’t be helping out with consumer creativity, not asking the consumer to contribute to our own. Cocreation may be the latest thing. But it’s not clear that it really contributes what must in any case be our first responsibility.
The Alka Seltzer contest is here.
The Oreo contest is here.
I took the picture in Port Chester, New York, a couple of days ago. (Port Chester is about 30 miles North East of New York City.) Yes, those are Life Savers attached to the side of the building, and, yes, this used to be the Life Saver factory. Now, that’s marketing.