Advertising ain't what it used to be. In the past few decades, companies wanting public awareness of their brands would plunk down a few million dollars for TV advertising campaigns, or just go for the gold with an expensive Super Bowl spot. TV was King, and the biggest event of the year was where you showed off your best side.
But these days, there is unrest among the natives. The Internet has opened up new avenues between corporations and consumers, and the recent rise of user-submitted video services like MySpace, YouTube, and Google
The power of community is enormous. Make people feel like they belong, and they will like your product better. That's why some respected corporations are turning to grassroots efforts to power their brands these days.
We're talking about traditional big-budget advertisers like Nike's
Chevy, for instance, took submissions from hundreds of college students through a targeted contest, picked a winner, and is now producing the clip with professional actors and equipment. Pepsi's
Even companies that not too long ago seemed averse to fan-made clips are coming around to the idea. Remember that nutty Diet Coke and Mentos geyser fad, and Coke's
Grassroots marketing seems to be an idea whose time has come. This February, you'll see several marketing ideas from fans just like yourself in those timeout and side change breaks, while pouring a Diet Coke and refilling the Doritos bowl. The response to those ads will tell us -- and Pepsi and Chevrolet -- whether or not the strategy is worthwhile. Chances are, it will work. Listening to your customers almost always does.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Coke shareholder, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is always Super Bowl-worthy.