How Coca-Cola Could Bring Pop Appeal Back to MySpace

Social Platform Has a New Agency, but It's Time for a New Owner, Too

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Oren Frank
Oren Frank

Congrats. There's an ad agency handling the MySpace brand -- and a repositioning, a new clever message, and maybe even a new logo just across the horizon.

MySpace is actually a very good platform, but one that has lost its focus by endlessly comparing itself with Facebook and thinking of itself as a "social network." Yes, to a certain degree it is still a "social network" -- as all multi-user web platforms are inherently social -- but the social context matters immensely.

Facebook has become the water cooler, the broadcast, the campfire, the new-generation e-mail for more than half a billion users, and the context of the conversation happening on Facebook is personal. And we all use it for our professional lives, too -- but always from our personal point of view. When looking through the meaning of the brand name, Facebook should have probably been named MySpace.

The context for the conversation currently happening on MySpace is, well, hard to define. When we look at the product, it's easy to see past discussions among the many stakeholders at MySpace and News Corp., all pushing their agendas. I once knew a marketer that claimed that focus is critical, therefore we should all have at least a few of them. True story.

I suspect that, in some ways, is what happened at MySpace. I assume the bottom line was a decision to become a "social hub for entertainment" or something along those lines. Well, here's the latest news; television is still very much alive and capable in that category, and the competition in digital-entertainment content is nothing short of World War III.

MySpace should go back to what defined it and made it unique, to music. It does that quite well today, but it's massively diluted by other irrelevant areas of "focus." Like most successful modern platforms, MySpace must make its music offering into a full online service, and not just a content hub. It should allow both young and established musicians the full service of an online participatory studio, marketplace and label -- sourcing, collaborating, recording, post-producing, distributing and monetizing -- and vigorously focus its products and services on music. It should give up its dreams of false scale and beating the Facebooks and Googles of the world, and focus on what it can and should do better than any of them. That's not something that any agency can authentically decide and execute for MySpace.

It's pretty obvious News Corp. has not done very well in bettering MySpace or adding any real value to it. And Mr. Murdoch has already made a very handsome return on the 2005 purchase with his Google advertising deals. So it may be time for News Corp. to look for a strategic partner or a buyer for MySpace. It should be a company and a brand that's built on the same core assets as MySpace -- on music -- and that can consider MySpace as an owned media asset.

As most of the traditional music industry still lies in ashes post the digital trauma, one such candidate could be Coca-Cola. It could be a clever marriage, in which Coke can further progress its shift from brand messaging to brand behavior by offering a branded full music service to its community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Oren Frank is global chief creative officer at MRM Worldwide. During his career, Frank has worked with such brands as Honda, Volvo, Microsoft, Yoplait, Heineken, Axe and McDonald's.
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