But, Of Course

snake The latest trend, per Advertising Age? The “political” advertising agencies that run what we call “politics” are now being retained to work on regular commodity pushes:

[T]he sea change in marketing brought about by social media has undeniably made the core competencies of political agencies — speed and nimbleness — more alluring to brands. Now that brands are trying to execute an “always on” digital strategy to better engage with their consumers, while also avoiding being caught asleep at the wheel when a crisis unfolds, political agencies have a loftier position from which to pitch their business.

On the Romney side of the one-inch-wide “aisle,” those who manage “political agencies” think of them as “the ultimate beta testers.” On the Zerobama side, they are seen as as a “big data shop, from a CRM [customer relationship management] perspective.” Democracy in action!

The results:

Take Blue State Digital, the agency that made its name through its work on the first Obama campaign and widely cited as the backbone of the campaign’s hugely successful digital grassroots organizing and fundraising strategy. The shop was acquired by WPP in late 2010 and has substantially diversified its client roster, taking on “blended” assignments from brands such as Ford and Godiva that also work with other WPP digital shops.

Can’t you just wait for Campaign 2016? “Pledge your vote to Hillary (she promises to withdraw our troops from Tehran by 2025!) and receive 2 free movie downloads, a half-price electric car charge, and a Super Big Mac from Time Warner Comcast NBC Universal General Motors McDonalds!”

Meet Adam Broitman

As the planet cooks and criminally prepares for World War Three, what are the big brains in the USA’s core industry working on?  No, it ain’t Apple or any other “high tech.”  It’s marketing, and here’s some of the latest entrepreneurial endeavor, per Advertising Age:

As planners seek to extract greater insights from social media, tech entrepreneurs are inventing new ways to engage the social consumer.  An example [is] GroupMe Experience’s Long Island Bike Odyssey, in which friends can share a bike tour on the north shore of Long Island. The trip includes wine tasting, lunch and other amenities. The platform makes it simple to organize and pay for the experience, alleviating the usual hassles that individuals might encounter when trying to organize a group outing.

Upon learning about the details of this new platform, my inner strategic planner asked, “What is the opportunity for brands?” It became clear that there are two:

Branded VIP “experiences.” Staying with the bike tour example, this could be a brand-sponsored trip in which cyclists get to ride with a celebrity.

Brand-underwritten “experiences.” Here the brand would foot the costs, and in return gain access to the participants for opinions and other research. The company’s goal would be to unearth consumer insights from highly targeted social groups.

While the first event could be a powerful branding tool, the second could generate fresh insights for marketers and prove to be a breakthrough in consumer research.

Glory, glory hallelujah!  Truly, we reside in the Age of Miracles, the best of all possible worlds!  Our grandchildren will shower us with thanks that, in our momentous time, such were our priorities! What a gift we are building for them!

Adam-Broitman The genius at work on the above enterprise, by the way, is the great Adam Broitman [pictured at left], “chief creative strategist at Something Massive, which acquired Cir.cus, the agency he co-founded, in March. Broitman has worked in a variety of roles at Digitas, Morpheus Media and Crayon.”

Somehow, the word “crayon” seems about right here…

Capitalist Social-ism

Social-TV-Ecosytem The word “social” is acquiring a rather interesting meaning under late-stage corporate capitalism. Like so much else in this market-totalitarian order, it is increasingly becoming a Trojan Horse for a specific form of exploitation — namely, the lavishly sponsored provocation of individuals’ voluntary but only vaguely conscious disclosure of their most intimate “consumer” behaviors and motivations to the overclass, sans compensation to, or control by, those who disclose. Q: When are media now “social media”? A: When the aforementioned activity is at the heart of their structure and content.

All of which calls to mind a story I reported in The Consumer Trap book, which I researched and mostly wrote in the 1990s. Here is the tale of which I’m thinking:

Read moreCapitalist Social-ism

It Only Gets Worse

eye spy Remember when Google was supposedly all about cutting-edge math and decent places to work?

Take a look at the website Adweek.  Without signing in, try to read one of their stories.  Pick any one.  It won’t matter.

What you get after clicking a headline there is undoubtedly a sign of what’s clearly next in the evolution of the commercially-run internet — compulsory data disclosure.

Clicking any AdWeek story now lands you on a page where you get an opening sentence or two, then must choose between answering a marketing question or “liking” the story page on a so-called social marketing platform.

The culprit here is Google, which is now pushing its “Google Consumer Surveys” onto “content providers.”

Why am I being asked this question?

The website you are visiting is using a survey, powered by Google, to enable access to its paid content. Answering a quick question here gives you immediate access to the content you want without having to pull out your wallet or sign in. These surveys contain questions written and provided by survey creators that want to conduct market research. The website you’re visiting earns money from the surveys that appear. This service makes market research fast, accurate, and affordable, helps to fund great web content and enables you easily and quickly get access to it.

Your answer is anonymous and is aggregated with all other anonymous answers to the question. It’s not connected with any information about you, and is not used to develop a profile or to deliver ads. Once the survey is complete, an aggregated report is provided to the survey creator about the specific question it asked. Like ads on the web, some surveys may be delivered to you based on the interests and inferred demographics associated with your browser. You can click here to review or edit these, or to opt-out.

This new level of coercion is both an obvious affront to the fading dream of an open, democratic internet and a new source of revenue and targeting knowledge for both Google and the most money-oriented websites.

TCT urges everybody to take all possible steps to combat this ridiculous maneuver. Opt out, give wrong answers, use ad blockers, boycott sites that adopt GCS, and, most importantly, advocate creation of a public, not-for-profit internet that leaves the Facebook and Google pirates, as well as the overclass manipulators for whom they whore, in the dust.