The Consumer as Advertiser

With all of the attention devoted to the many new ways that consumers are finding to avoid advertising, from Tivos to popup blockers, one interesting result of the explosive growth of personal media is the phenomenon of the consumer as advertiser.  One popular example is when Joe Jaffe created a Nike spot with the hanging golf ball within hours of the network broadcast of Tiger Woods’ shot.  Another more recent example is Firefox’s new open source marketing campaign where they ask their enthusiastic customers/followers to create video spots for them in something ClickZ called "community driven marketing."  Today, anyone can take Photoshop and create a print ad – or create short online videos and audio clips.  Coupled with the rise of the consumer evangelist, these technologies are now giving individuals the power to create their own advertising messages to evolve what was previously "just" word of mouth marketing into something even more powerful. 

Of course, the rise of the consumer advertiser also has many dangers.  When advertisers no longer control their messages, there is the potential for misunderstanding and dilution of a marketing strategy.  But the potential for real and honest advertising (an oxymoron in most people’s view) has suddenly become possible, and should not be ignored.  Is letting people put their own message on a Nike shoe dangerous?  Sure.  But the possibility for a branded personal experience where the consumer controls the message is a remarkable new reality.  As the act of creating content becomes more and more common for the average online users, my view is that companies who have the dialogue with their evangalist customers (like Firefox) will be the ones who can successfully use these consumer creating advertising messages as part of an new media advertising campaign.  If word of mouth marketing lessons taught us that it is important to let your customers do your selling for you … why not let them do the advertising too?

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