Cammie Dunaway, CMO of Yahoo, during her keynote at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference, asked the audience of about 1,000 marketers how many of them have heard of Web 2.0. I estimate that less than 50 hands went up. Wow! The biggest national advertisers are all in one room, and only five percent have heard of Web 2.0.
In the spirit of Web 2.0, Dunaway left us with one important, quotable quote: “Who more credible to talk about your product than a passionate consumer?”
In the audience Q&A, I got the mic and asked Dunaway – her company being a platform enabler for consumer-generated media – if she had any advice for marketers in an age of incremental product placement, created by consumers. The issue is that when consumers create media involving licensed brands and copyrights, legal departments often step in and recklessly try to kill unofficial usage or even the most passing references to brands. (I wrote about the topic of incremental, incidential consumer-generated product placement a few months ago.)
By default, the legal department becomes a counterproductive extension of the marketing department, especially one that is encouraging and fostering consumer participation and co-creation. What happens when organizational misalignment kills brand fandom or even trivial, indirect references to brands? (Remember the squandered FedEx fan?)
Dunaway said you have to reach out and embrace your consumers and approach each situation individually, and understand the risks. She said this was a big issue with Yahoo’s global time capsule project.
I’m not sure that legacy, institutional processes and rules of big companies will allow marketers to “give up control to the consumer,” a theme we keep hearing at this ANA gathering.