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:
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”
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. . .