Wanted: New Marketing Skills for 2007

There’s a fairly new skillset required of marketers as sponsored, user-generated video takes shape this year. Historically, marketers are trained to listen to the customer, shape the messages, and manage the agency to achieve “reach, frequency and single-minded propositions.” Rinse. Repeat.

Along comes viral video. At first, marketers sit on the sidelines. They watch. Then they decide to get in the game, and they have agencies produce faux viral. In some cases it takes off, but it mostly fails. The next evolution involved partnerships between creators, brands and new media channels. Recently Coke did a promotion on YouTube where it paid ‘tubers to make short Christmas videos (no mention of Coke required) and send them to friends. They also sponsored EepyBird in another Mentos/Coke video, and paid them reported 6-figures and put significant media dollars behind it.

evolution.jpgSo what’s next? Yesterday I spoke with a product director of a well-known consumer brand. He wants to sponsor videos that mention his product, and he’s ready pay a fee for the video. We’ve been communicating for months and he approved my first video with some minor changes yesterday evening. Then MediaMoGirl pitched him and his boss on a new idea we’re planning to shoot this weekend. Let’s just say it involves me wearing spandex and leave it at that.

Here’s what struck me about the way these two marketers were handling our conversation. They stepped back and exhibited an incredible faith in our creativity. They didn’t push us to insert brand messages, and they didn’t even treat us like an agency. It was like watching a parent give a child some room to be as weird as they wanted. The feedback we received was subtle. All they really wanted from the video is for it to appeal to their target market, and have full transparency that they sponsored it. The VP stepped off the call to FedEx a box of product to MediaMoGirl to use as props. I was blown away by this dialogue.

At Johnson & Johnson I took some classes by former Procter & Gamble guys that taught how to manage and lead creative agencies. They made you spend a night creating a commercial, and then have it deconstructed by the class the next day. You got to feel how feedback (good and bad) is received, and you’d never, ever manage the creative process the same way again.

In 2007 we’ll inarguably see more consumer-generated content. Unless marketers “buy their way” to the game, they’ll have to embrace it with some faith. Instead of squeezing it to death and forcing messages, they’ll have to let the creators take them slightly off message. I’m going to argue that’s a fairly new skillset for an agency, much less a traditional marketer.

11 Replies to “Wanted: New Marketing Skills for 2007”

  1. ZeFrank vlogged about product placement yesterday. If Coke actually paid him to tape coke cans to his face, it would show a highly evolved approach to marketing.

    and Joel Spoltsky blogged about the ethics of accepting gifts from Marketers last week… although that wasn’t about viral video as it was about vlogging…

    If the marketers are going after an entertainiment audience, I don’t see the problem…

  2. Good piece, Nalts.

    If nothing else, Google’s YouTube purchase legitimized web video as a medium worthy of big businesses’ attention. It seems that shelling out $1.65 billion has helped to get us noticed. ; )

    Paid product placement is booming offline, and that will carry over to the web, especially web video…

    “…paid product placement spending will grow at a compound annual rate of 27.9% in the 2005-2010 period to $7.55 billion, as product placement growth continues to significantly outpace that of traditional advertising and marketing.”

    Two other things:

    1. What’s with the alligator-boy skeleton?

    2. Any chance the spandex deal is being sponsored by SlimFast?

    Looking forward to it. I think…


  3. Your chum/arch nemesis Zefrank has his own spin on product placement here:


    Of course talking-head blogging is hardly the medium for it.

    I was watching The Island again the other day (Michael bay sci-fi flop… but hey, it was on cable…) and the product placement stood out like a sore thumb (MSN Search). Part of the problem being it’s such a glossy piece of work that the cinematography can’t help but draw attention to the sudden apperance of “the brand”, and clearly, there must be half a dozen people invested in ensuring that “the product” is clearly visible.

    It will be interesting to see if the more, shall we say, throw-together nature of online video makes product placement a little less sore-thumby.

    And yes, please lose the alligator-boy. It’s gross.

  4. The whole creating an advert thing seems a really cool thing to take part in. It’d be good seeing someone take apart and comment on each part of something you produce that kind of feed back really helps.

    “it involves me wearing spandex and leave it at that.”

    That bit made me laugh, can’t wait to see it lol.

  5. Alligator boy was the spoof of a morphing darwinian animal. I found it while searching evolution or something. No- Slimfast wouldn’t touch me. I’m pushing out my size 36 pants.

  6. Product placement is okay, I’d do it if it made sense with the video, and in fact I have a funny idea for a product placement video, but that’ll have to wait until I have an audience.

    But what I think would be funnier than product placement is have the video star actually pitching the product, the way they used to on old talk shows. “And now I’d like to take a minute to thank our sponsor…”, then sing a little impromptu song about BrandX cough medicine, how it’s delicious and makes you feel like a man, then continue on with the skit/rant/diatribe whatever.

    But it would get old if too many people did it.

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