On Friday I gave the opening talk at the annual marketing conference sponsored by Post Danmark. This was a lot of fun.
I got about 50 minutes to talk about Participation Marketing. Basically that’s the same thing as Open Source Marketing: stuff that attempts to engage the customer as co-creator of the product or service, or at least of the conversations around it. I spoke in English, but the rest of the day was in Danish, which was interesting. My friend Jesper Bindslev was able to explain a lot of what was going on, but it was intriguing to see how much I could figure out just from body language and the occasional familiar English marketing expression.
I talked about Objects of Sociability (see this post for the history of this idea, and the notion of ooze that goes with it.) I kept hearing those words amidst the otherwise mysterious Danish that was being spoken.
Basically, I suggested that one thing good marekting does is create these objects – physcial things, or maybe just ideas, around which conversations and play take place that engage the audience. The ipod is an object of sociability, so are lots of successful products and a few promotional ideas.
As per the post I just referenced, I then played the idea of objects of sociability into the acronym OOS and then into the word “ooze”. Maybe this muddles things, but I like the idea of ooze too. Consider this picture:
This kid, like all kids, loves the slimy ooze. Ooze is a bit chaotic, it can’t be completely controlled, it has a life of its own. I think it makes a good metaphor for what marketing, indeed organsiations in general, are really like. They don’t really conform to the idealised diagrams, spreadsheets and flowcharts. Managing ooze is managing complexity, requires flexibility and give and take. Marketing can’t be seen as the disciplined imposition on the target audience of the marketing department’s dogmas. It needs to be more playful than that. Mentos and Coke probably have detailed marketing plans, but neither could have predicted the spate of videos that arose when people discovered what happened when you combined them. Mentos responded playfully, Coke was a bit straitlaced. Mentos said Yes, And to the customers, Coke said No. But.
I suppose you could also think about what comapanies ooze, as distinct from what they say. Southwest Airlines, at least on a good day, seems to ooze good humour, enthusiasm and playfulness. A lot of brands ooze stuff less agreeable that belies the advertising image. For me, ooze is about the reality that seeps out of organisations, not the image put upon them by the marketing whizzkids.
PS Kudos to Lars Meller Jensen and the guys at 3rd dimension who organised the event. They certainly got their act together. I also loved that as people left the room they got an 8 page newspaper reporting what had just happened. That’s a nice bit of ooze too.