unbounded marketing

Unbounded Marketing- The new era of content

The impact of the latest presidential elections on American society feels like a large meteorite hit the earth, triggering powerful shockwaves that could kill all the dinosaurs. A single event has not had such a powerful impact since the Vietnam War or 9/11. The shockwaves continue and are reshaping the boundaries of right and wrong, left and right, truths and alternative truths, allowed and forbidden. Political correctness is stranded on a beach like a giant whale, out of the water, waiting for some “save the whale organization” to push it back to the water, but unfortunately, the budgets for such organizations have been cut.

Let’s admit it. Somewhere inside most white men, hides a little Donald Trump voice that is now busy dancing a victory dance while giving his finger to the political correctness and chanting “I am the man, I deserve respect and I put the toilette seat up only because I want to be nice, honey.”

And that’s what this new era is all about. Being Unbounded, limitless, crossing the seam lines into the unthinkable. For us digital marketers, it feels like we just walked into a party in the Playboy mansion while on LSD, hosted by a reality star dressed as the President, with an entourage of young blond women feeding BS to the media.

LSD is going to get hard to get with the wall on the border, so how about some cola? Even if you didn’t have TIVO back in 2012 or didn’t spend time on YouTube, there is only a still slim chance you missed the “Uncle Drew” commercial by Pepsi Co., featuring the young basketball star Kyrie Irving dressed as Uncle Drew. Pepsi Co. must have known something about basketball by betting on the young point guard who took the NBA by storm with his remarkable crossover dribble and amazing assists. Five years later and Pepsi has announced the remaking of Uncle Drew into a full feature film.

The Pepsi campaign is a great example of barriers being shattered. Digital YouTube content is converted to a TV ad and now morphs into an actual standalone product, all a part of what is described by Pepsi’s marketing spokeswoman as a digital marketing “ECOSYSTEM” (Buzz alert!). The term “ecosystem” refers to Pepsi Co.’s effort to get the most out of poor old Uncle Drew, by featuring him on every social media feed, video pre-roll and TV ad.  The branding only appears in the background, yet it will gain significant visibility and strength by building clout and creating a booming and continuous echo.

Pepsi Co. has established its own independent content unit – PepsiCo’s Creators League, and invited many good friends to the “Uncle Drew” marketing party.  Temple Hill Entertainment will co-create, The NBA appearing as the VIP guest and several distributors, content streamers and merchandising buddies, soon to be announced. All will enjoy and benefit from slam-dunk in their own digital ecosystems.

Many other brands are on the move to create content ecosystems. Amazon, IBM, Nike to name a few. But it’s not always so easy. When Intel drone dropped the ball to Aaron Gordon during the slam-dunk All-Star 2017 contests, the result was goofy.

This followed an aggressive TV ad campaign with Jim Parson that belong that was amusing but kept on trying to forcefully educate the public that 98% of the cloud is based on Intel parts. Maybe the problem with this campaign was that 98% of the viewers don’t really give a damn how the cloud works. Intel failed to acknowledge that unlike in the old-school ads campaigns, creating an ecosystem requires an all new level of commitment and engagement.

Failing to do it right, can rebound:

dron dunk tweets

That brings me back to the election results. For savvy marketers, it’s easy to see that what goes on today in the White House is yet another ecosystem party, only that this time, the presenter, the Uncle Drew, is for real, or is it? The casting was almost too perfect. Take a grotesque caricature from reality TV; dress him up as a presidential candidate and blast it on every possible media.

But who is the brand behind that ecosystem? Is it a man?  Is it a day trader manipulating the market? Is it a country? All I can discern is that it’s unlikely Mr. Trump himself. This presidency thing is going to be a big league struggle for him with all the needed transparency and formalities.  Perhaps this ecosystem was created only to disguise a brand?

“Civilization must stand up and combat the current collapse of governance, the rise of violence, and the spread of chaos and fear in many parts of the world”

-Rudy Giuliani

One big problem for ecosystems is their vulnerability. It’s enough that one species in the ecosystem will go extinct and the entire ecosystem might crumble like a house of cards. Another scenario is that someone will find the Deja Vu cat that happens to be the bug in the matrix. And how about this unexpected ingenious open source project by Google X robot engineer, Max Braun? It tracks Trump’s tweets and how they influence publically traded companies, making millions for someone out there.

Marketers are taking notice of the opportunities that this new boundless terrain presents. Creativity is awakening, creating new content ecosystems. Those marketers that choose to stay in their comfort zone and not expand their playbook and routines might miss out on invitations to the best parties.  But how long can a party last? And what brand manager wants to wake up every morning with a bad hangover? Just how can you, as a marketer, play it safe and survive the unbounded era safely while still giving good service to your brand?

I would love to help you answer this dilemma, but I am late for a party I was invited to. . .

Social media divides the world

No Friedman, The World Is Not Flat, It’s Split

Pluralism, communities, interconnectivity, sharing, exchanges of ideas  . . . these were the terms used to describe the vision for the Internet by its “founding fathers”. Those idealistic geeks who jumped on early aboard the Internet wagon, envisioned the Internet transforming the world into a place without borders, powered by the spirits of humanism and open source.  And in the early years, it seemed as if we were headed in that direction. Users were called “surfers” and encouraged to post their thoughts, feelings and ideas on forums and mailing lists. In the age before the captcha and fake news, writers were real people with traditional journalistic ethics.

By 2005, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times claimed, in his internationally bestselling book, that “the world is flat”.  He argued that soon, all the remaining walls between people are going to fall and we were all going to embrace the freedom and exchange of thoughts and ideas. Friedman predicted that the change would affect countries, corporations, and even individuals, forcing them to open up and connect in order to remain competitive in global markets where geographical and cultural divisions would become irrelevant.

Yet, in his writing, Friedman ignored the birth of one little website in particular that was being developed right around the same time inside of the dorms of Harvard University. And it would make Friedman’s words irrelevant and change the web and humanity in profound ways no one could have imagined. The birth of Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media platforms, ripped apart the vision of the idealistic Internet.  Paradoxically, social media has turned into one of the strongest anti-social forces of our times.   In fact, the introduction of social media may be playing the biggest role in the creation of the divisive world we find ourselves in right now, in which the people are deeply dug into their own world view trenches. It is as if a WW3 sitzkrieg already started.

While social media’s founding fathers are building zillion dollar mansions in Hawaii, the platforms they created are polarizing society, being misused by terrorists and governments, instigators and psychos.  But are they the only ones at fault for this absurd situation?  Well, we all are.  Campaign directors, content managers, marketers, all of us who cynically use these platforms to promote our products and ideas are taking advantage of and further aggravating the split. Perhaps, we are no better than weapons dealers who cynically arm naïve, patriotic fighters with ammunition, knowing that the means does not justify the ends but only serves to ensure that the war goes on and provides more opportunities for us arms dealers to sell more ammunition. We watch how each camp just keeps digging into their possocial media marketing world-smallitions deeper, and readies to launch further attacks against anyone with a different point of view.

And here is the amazing fact about this world we have created:  there is not one single documented case of someone that actually switched sides as a result of our work. We boldly brag about our likes and shares and exposure, yet I have never met a single person who admitted that he read a post on Facebook that was so compelling that it led him to change his world view. No matter how funny or “engaging” our posts are, we end up serving them to the same crowd every time — an audience that is already convinced of what we are trying to prove. As people dig into their ideological trenches, they are not alone; they bring their entire social graph with them. Very few people will ever dare to come out of their trenches and venture to the other side to expose themselves to a different point of view. Their social network might call them out as a traitor. “How could you “like” that guy’s page?” Many people have talked about the need to unfriend their friends on Facebook when their political tendencies were revealed during this last election.

And this carries over to the real world. Not long ago, a friend of mine who is an orthodox Jew sat with me in a non-kosher Café in Tel Aviv to have coffee. He looked nervous. When I asked him if it upset him because he worried about offending God, he said “No, it’s not about God. I am afraid that someone from the orthodox community will recognize me sitting here and then shame me on Twitter.”

When it comes to religion, sports, politics, gender, race and even entertainment, millions of people are engaged in wars with one another. And they just keep shooting at one another. This is not your old-fashioned Coke vs. Pepsi campaign.  This is about the escalation of rhetoric to such a level that too many times; it is ending up in real violence.

The divisiveness clouds the user’s judgments and choices. Social media is structured in such a shallow way that users are continuously forced to pick sides. You either LIKE something or not. It is hard to not align with one side or the other in a binary world. Today in the USA, you are conservative or liberal, pro-choice or pro-life, Republican or Democrat, flip or flop, good or bad. We have UltraHD TV’s now yet see the world through one big black and White filter. And when you feel the urge to get away, like you have had too much, it’s almost impossible to escape. It chases us in our feeds, in all of our devices . . . 24/ 7.

Marketers view this split as an opportunity. They develop messaging that reinforces a particular world view – you are either a success or a looser, good looking or unattractive. I can swipe you right or swipe you left.

trum tweet
                                             My favorite Trump tweet



Campaign managers and PR professionals take the divisive language to the next level. “You’re either with us or against us. The country is in awful condition. We need to change everything and make it great again”.

Many people I know were in total shock after this last presidential election. They had no idea this was coming. And the reason they had no idea is because that they never venture outside of their trenches.  They haven’t engaged in any real dialogue in years. They read posts that reassure their own world paradigm. Only with the election’s post-mortem, did they start to hear the other voices.

The world is truly split. And now, we will have the symbolic gesture of an actual wall on the border with Mexico, while the countries two Presidents are exchanging punches on Twitter.

Is there anything we can do as marketers, as people, as communities? Maybe it’s time for us to take leadership and start a “tear the virtual walls down” campaign. I have some ideas on how to run this one on Facebook.