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The Coming Chaos Scenario —Sherburne

September 2009

HAVE YOU read "The Chaos Scenario" yet? It is written by Ad Age's Bob Garfield. If not, you should. Order it from Amazon, or download it to your Kindle like I did (the printed book became available August 1 for ordering on Amazon; it was available in the Kindle version quite some time before that).

Garfield states in the introduction to the book: "See, the thing is, 'The Digital Revolution' isn't just some news magazine cover headline. It's an actual revolution, yielding revolutionary changes, thousands or millions of victims and an entirely new way of life."

While some may think Garfield is a bit of a "Chicken Little, the Sky Is Falling" kind of guy, anyone remotely connected with the world of marketing and advertising (that's us, folks!) should read this book. It is surely no surprise that today's consumer is in control of pretty much everything: what and when they watch and read, or whether they even pay any attention at all to marketing messages (think TiVo).

Brand owners and marketers increasingly realize that they need to listen to consumers, creating an interactive dialog with them in order to better understand their wants and needs—what they are likely to buy and why. These days, a push effort that says, "Hey, my brand is cool. You should buy it" simply isn't working.

Coke Fans Unite

In an ad:tech San Francisco panel discussion, Carol Kruse, vice president of global interactive marketing for The Coca-Cola Co., talked about how her firm was increasingly turning to digital alternatives by leveraging social media to enter into a dialog with consumers and gain these essential customer insights, as well as beginning to depend more heavily on "Coke fans" to defend the brand on the Web.

A Forrester Research five-year interactive marketing forecast states that digital will represent about 12 percent of advertising spend in 2009, and is likely to grow to about 21 percent in five years.

Brown-Forman's Southern Comfort brand is leading the charge. Restricted to a narrow nightly advertising window on cable television like other spirit brands, the company spent $6 million on cable TV advertising and $1.5 million on magazine ads last year.

In 2009, both those numbers will drop to zero as the company focuses its efforts on online properties such as Facebook, Spin, Fader and Hulu. While not a huge advertising budget in the whole scheme of things, it is big enough to be a startling and dramatic move for a well-known brand.


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