Sunday, May 14, 2006

David Malachowski, Times Union

[Duchess Note - I attended this fantastic, awesome gig with my friend Josee on Friday night and Pearl Jam soooo rocked the house. Mr Malachowski's review was favorable to the band and the gig. Personally, I find it annoying when reviewers focus ONLY on Eddie Vedder and seem to forget about the other band members. The WHOLE band was on fire Friday night, not just Mr Vedder. I'll be writing up my own "review" of the gig and posting it in "personal news" section very soon. Let me leave you all with MY highlight songs of the evening ... Life Wasted, Severed Hand, Given to Fly, RED MOSQUITO, Daughter, Gone, GRIEVANCE, Marker in the Sand, RATS, Porch, Come Back, Crazy Mary & Alive. Photo at left was taken at Toronto show - l to r - Jeff, Mike & Ed]

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... My friends have made the story of my life. Helen Keller

Pearl Jam and User-Generated Content
by Cory Treffiletti, Wednesday, May 10, 2006
FRIDAY NIGHT ROCKED! Friday night I was one of the very few people in NewYork afforded the unique opportunity to see Pearl Jam play a little club called Irving Plaza. There were no more than 500 people in attendance (if that many) and the setting provided for a wild, yet intimate experience with my favorite band. "Why is he writing about Pearl Jam in a column dedicated to digital advertising?" you might ask. Because, besides the fact that I've seen them more than 30 times in concert (and I want every one of you to go see them if you're given the chance), they also provide an interesting insight into one of my favorite topics of the moment--user-generated content.

User-generated content is based on the fundamental concept of brand democratization, the idea that your brand is truly owned by your consumers,who are the ones in control. If you give them control, they'll typically run with it and generate all sorts of interesting content around your brand. Entertainment has certainly come to understand this concept and embraced it in full. From the upcoming movie "Snakes on a Plane" to industry veterans like Pearl Jam, brand have empowered and encourage dconsumers to spread the word. Pearl Jam has recognized this concept better than any other band. Now that they've partnered with a label called JRecords, the home of Clive Davis and one of the most well-respected names in music, they are reaping the benefits.

Over the years Pearl Jam has run an Internet fan club that routinely asks for input and artwork from its members, many of which have been used in T-shirt designs or published for others to see. They've run a Web site chock full of reviews and set lists written by fans. They post images and pictures in a gallery full of fan art. When they tour, they sometimes take requests from the fans, and in many cases they tease them with songs they haven't played in years (this tour it's "Leash," for those of you truly playing attention). They offer fans an incentive to be this engaged by giving them first stab at tickets and special opportunities, like the show at Irving Plaza. Over the years they've discovered a way to make their band a brand and make that brand representative of a lifestyle. As a result, they continue to sell records and now that they've re-emerged into the mainstream consciousness with a little corporate backing, they've mobilized an army of fans who will guarantee success!

The way we see user-generated content being used by brands outside of entertainment is actually a bit of a cop-out. They are asking consumers to create ads or fill in the blanks for a MasterCard commercial, all of which represent the first, and easiest, wave of how this model can be applied. These are the simple ways to apply the model to advertising and though I love to see it taking hold, it represents only the tip of the iceberg. Once you've asked the consumer for input or content, then what? Great job; now you've got some new ads, what are you going to do to really motivate the mand get them engaged? How do you make your brand into a lifestyle, and how do you mesh that lifestyle into the lives of your target audience? The problem with what we are seeing now is these are only one step in a choreographed dance. They are the first step, and it's an important one, but we need to see the steps that follow. We need to provide consumers within put and ways to shape the brand outside of the advertising. P&G has done this in the past with their Connect and Develop program, where consumers actually helped develop new products like Crest Whitestrips and the SwifferWet Jet, but even these are only single steps. No-one has yet packaged these various steps together and created the full choreography of user-generated marketing.

It will likely take a few years for our industry to understand the choreography necessary for a true user-generated marketing effort, but take a look around you and identify how your favorite lifestyle brands manage to get you involved. A little of what you see in each place can be repackaged and reworked, and you might come up with the right model. For me, I'm going to go see a few more Pearl Jam concerts this month and continue my "research" into this topic. Rock on!


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