Friday, July 01, 2005

More on the "labor" that consumers perform on behalf of advertisers

An article today in the New York Times entitled Consumers, Long the Targets, Become the Shapers of Campaigns describes that one reaction to consumers shirking their "labor" responsibilities in watching broadcast television commercials has been to shift this labor to Web activity -- not just forcing consumers to click-to-dismiss pop-over and pop-under advertising windows, but enlisting consumers as marketing consultants and product designers "interactively":

WHEN Crest introduced a toothpaste line two years ago, it used focus groups to help pick three flavors: cinnamon, herbal and citrus. This time around, the new Crest flavors will be chosen by customers.

Crest, a division of Procter & Gamble, is asking people to go to the Web to vote for their favorite from a short list of contenders: lemon ice, sweet berry punch or tropica exotica. Samples of the flavors are attached to some Crest products.Marketing executives say the campaign reflects an increasing interest by companies in involving consumers in their advertising. The trend is another way to break from traditional advertising that viewers increasingly can tune out with TiVo and other digital video recorders. Marketers say the Internet has also made interactive campaigns easier to conduct.

'This comes with the inherent declining power of traditional media advertising,' said Clive Chajet, chairman of Chajet Consultancy, a brand consulting firm in New York. 'All marketers today are seeking different ways to market their products.' Crest is running television and magazine advertisements about the promotion, which were created by Saatchi & Saatchi, part of Publicis Groupe. It also is sending e-mail to four million consumers on the company's e-mail list. Voters must go to to register and vote. Then, they receive an e-mail message from Crest urging them to vote every day.

Every day!? Will the end result of such "interactive" campaigns be perhaps a reversal from the target-marketing of products to consumers based on their ability and willingness to pay (eg. affluent and status-conscious consumers) and instead to the default-marketing to consumers based on their ability and willingness to spend hours each week participating in online interactive surveys? (Please cast your vote now.)

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