The Individual Is the Next Small Agency

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Have you seen the "Vote Different" spot ripped from Apple Computer's famous "1984" commercial? The spot puts Hillary Clinton in place of Big Brother. An individual who supports Barak Obama did it, and the spot has had over two million viewings.

This is an example of something most powerful about advertising. I've heard it referred to as "citizen marketing" and "individual advertising." Frankly, I love it.

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Advertising agencies need to pay attention because of the incredible power in the hands of the individual to communicate to the world. The provocative truth is held up by a billion hands in the mosh pit of the Internet and thrown up on the world's stage for all to see. No longer will mainstream media control the flow of mass communication. The individual has a voice and if it resonates with the masses, it will be echoed and magnified.

This gives special power to the small agency and the small advertiser, but it requires a different way of thinking. You must put the communication in the hands of the people. You must trust them to deliver it properly. Can it be done? I think it can if a brand is truly living its brand. If you are what you say you are, your customers will say it for you. They don't mind because they are a part of you. They believe in your brand. They live your brand for you.

NPR did a story on this phenomenon, noting that this is far from the last "individual advertising" we'd be seeing. I agree. The question is how can advertisers harness this for their own benefit. I'm not sure it can be controlled, but perhaps it can be persuaded. It's more important that our clients genuinely live their brand. However, giving consumers permission to advertise for you might be something to think about. I'm not talking about the so-called "consumer generated" ads that we've been seeing. I'm talking about real consumer expression for a brand. That's something to strive for. And the smaller the budget of the advertiser, the more impact this could be to a brand's success.

I think that a new way to advertise is emerging. It's wild and dangerous right now, but it could become extremely effective. Time will tell.
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