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Archive for the ‘Participation’ Category

  • Sell the audience, not the story

    30th June 11

    Posted by Jeremy Ettinghausen

    Posted in Participation

    Labs were lucky enough to be invited back to Power to the Pixel’s Pixel Lab held at Schwielowsee this week. The attendees – writers, filmmakers and producers among them – spent most of the week intensively workshopping their cross-media projects, punctuated by tutorials and talks from external experts.

    Raising money in a still nascent format is always going to be challenging, so Pixel Lab participants were keen to know how brands and advertisers viewed transmedia storytelling as a platform and what approaches were likely to lead to successful fundraising.

    Using the smart thinking from Metafilter forum user blue_beetle as the starting point I suggested that rather than try and sell a story to a brand, selling the audience might be a more productive approach. This is partly because it’s so noisy out there that a brand needs to work exceptionally hard to cut through with a story and also because increasingly brands see participation (through a variety of mechanics) as a good route to engaging an audience and building brand loyalty.

    It wouldn’t be a Labs talk if we didn’t reference Kevin Kelly, and his ‘Six words for the modern internet‘ made for a useful primer on participation and behaviours. Taking each of the behaviours and looking at campaigns that had shone them through a branded lens I asked whether it was possible to extend the idea of audience as product and ask what they paid with for each form of participation.

    With each of these costs of participating the audience clearly need to be rewarded and this reward will vary with the depth and type of participation. The reward might be a story or another form of transmedia experience but there are other rewards for participation and access and engagement might sometimes be reward enough.

    The full presentation is below – let us know what you think in the comments.



  • Rethinking non-profits (and other intern inspirations)

    13th June 11

    Posted by Saneel Radia

    Posted in Participation

    The Barn is a 10-week internship program

    Last week kicked off another session of The Barn, BBH NY’s 10-week internship program. The Barn brings in 6 interns, divides them into two teams and has them compete on a 3-word creative brief (last session’s was “Do good, famously” but we can’t tell you this one just yet).

    It’s a fantastic program, run by Heidi Hackemer, Dane Larsen and Jordan Kramer. As I work with my new team (I’m the Advisor for Team Moose*), I’m reminded of how such a program broadens our agency’s thinking as much as it does the interns’.

    My team last session had a fantastic idea to give 4 homeless men a voice via Twitter as part of a project called Underheard. That experience made me fundamentally rethink the role non-profits play in a world where motivated audiences self-organize and work (a theme we’ve discussed before).

    In fact, Underheard showed me the limitations inherent to straight-forward marketing by non-profits. Generally, their missions—and resulting communication—are highly focused. Take, for instance, the mission statements of two of my favorite non-profits here in the US.

    Feeding America: “Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”

    National Resource Defense Council: “We use law, science and the support of 1.3 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.”

    Both organizations are clear not only in what they want to achieve, but also their means: food banks and legal action, respectively.

    This fairly typical behavior makes it clear and easy for me to engage. Their cause is established. If I choose to support any cause, I’ll do so via an organization that uses the means I believe most effective. So of course a non-profit should outline the micro-actions I can take as a concerned citizen to help, right?

    I’m no longer convinced that’s the only solution. Underheard (not an organization of any kind, to be explicitly clear) was simply a platform for homeless individuals. It didn’t specifically ask people to donate, nor did it edit what happened (when giving homeless individuals a voice, it should be no surprise some of what we heard fell outside of anything an organization would ever endorse). Nonetheless, people regularly contacted the interns to help the four men in ways they deemed best. At one point, someone in Australia paid for 2 transit tickets Albert (one of the four Tweeters) received. Those tickets totaled $200, beyond any reasonable amount Albert could have gathered on his own. Similarly, Danny was offered help to write his story by someone in Wisconsin. This desire to tell his story was something he brought up a few times including at the very outset of being selected for the project. Neither of these were ever explicit requests. In fact, financial help was offered regularly, but no one ever said they’d like to donate generally. Every financial offering was tied to a specific individual and incident. The offer was never $200. It was to pay for those daunting tickets. The offer wasn’t to fund a book; it was to help write it.

    It seems people will determine the appropriate means of contributing if the right system is in place. In this case, the only pieces required were a platform to communicate (pre-paid phones to tweet from) and someone spreading the word. It’s similar to how a free-to-use site like Craigslist can turn commerce upside down via collaborative consumption. Craigslist never set out to extend the life of products or help communities consume more efficiently; it just happened to be the platform on which such consequences transpire.

    All of this opened my mind to a new possibility. Could a non-profit exist simply as a platform for those that may need help with no instructions or systems in place to actually help? Sure, a number of organizations already use social media to push their causes and seek help, but they are generally speaking to existing supporters– and they’re outlining what they need. Could an extremely low-cost platform serve solely as scaffolding to let people connect their own solutions to narratives told by people in need?

    Currently, people in need use the internet to ask for help all the time, but to a very limited audience. Their best-case scenario is having their need adopted by a cause that will help them. But what about all those people that could decide how to help without an organization outlining how? Is there a scalable solution between being a collection of individuals in need and being a formal organization requiring funds to operate? Could a platform that simply makes voices heard but doesn’t actually have an agenda successfully exist? Perhaps it’s a Craigslist-meets-Kickstarter-meets-Twitter for people to tell stories in a culture that is clearly intended to seek assistance, but in no specified fashion. The possibilities seem pleasantly ambiguous and endless.

    Now, that may be the dumbest idea ever. That’s not the point. The point is how much my mind was opened by people with limited resources and experience answering an open-ended brief.

    The point is intern inspiration.

    I can’t wait to see what this new group of interns does. No matter what they do, I’m sure I’ll be inspired in some way. That’s a fantastic investment for any company to make.

    *Follow this summer’s Team Moose interns on Twitter: Jennifer Huang (@jennnifurby), Haywood Watkins III (@4eyesandbowties), and Stephanie Krivitzky (@ihearthummus).

  • Can brands shift from co-presenting to co-viewing?

    7th February 11

    For those who don’t live in the UK or haven’t heard of it, Skins is a scripted show that promises a real depiction of Teen lives including the drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. This was a very popular show with Millenials 18-24 in the U.K. and appears to be just as popular here in the States. I’ve been fascinated by the advertisers who are scrambling to remove themselves from the MTV version of Skins due to the lack of ‘brand fit’ and backlash from Parent groups.

    These Parent groups are calling the advertisers who are running ads in Skins sponsors, or co-presenters of ‘filth’. Let’s be honest, very few brands have values that would align with the values of the show. It’s easy for marketers to make a case not to place an ad in programming like this, even when the eyeballs are there.

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