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Ad agencies - large and small - are shakin' in their boots and trying to turn the tide against the very people that they get paid to market to. Ironic, isn't it...?

Recently a lot of negativity towards Customer Generated Media (CGM) has been showing up. And .... shocker .... it's being spouted from people at ad agencies.
The first reference I saw was on the Brand Autopsy blog. John Moore directs our attention to the recent Idea Conference (held by Advertising Age) in which the gobal CEO of Euro RSCG .... David Jones .... completely dismisses the concept of customers up with brilliant ideas. There's a nice video to watch with all the nasty lowlights, so be sure to click through to John's post.
Then, yesterday, Billy (our Chief Storyteller), sent me a link to, well whatdoya know, Advertising Age's Small Business Diary, where Marc Brownstein continued with this small-minded thinking. Get this:

Now, I'm all for exploring new media for our clients. But by asking amateurs to do a professional marketers' job, have we gone mad? Or have clients and select agencies lost faith in the creative talent on their payrolls?

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I'll set aside for a moment the fact that both of these bonehead occurrences are connected with AdAge. But is it obvious to anyone else that these guys -- from a huge global ad conglomerate to a boutique shop -- are scared? With the whole Web 2.0 world, they've watched as their clients have slowly lost control of their brand messages. They are no longer what the marketing department says they are, but what their customers say they are–and those customers have loud voices now.
And now, with CGM, the ad agencies are losing control. They are scared out of their freakin' minds - not to mention their fatty-pants paychecks. And it's fantastic. Here's one comment on Brownstein's post:
Agencies that encourage CGA are opening the door for any other agency to walk in and steal the business. What a great opportunity to get your work in front of a client that might not otherwise return your call! Disguise the work as coming from Joe Average from Anytown USA. Get selected. Hold a press conference and declare yourself the new agency. First time that happens CGA will evaporate overnight. ... James Coakley, Metuchen, NJ

Now that's just funny. Paranoid. But funny.
When we recently empowered a tight-knit community for a client, they started coming up with ideas that we would've never thought of. And it's because they have lived and breathed the brand long before we came along and will live and breathe it long after we move on to something else. They know things that no insight and no focus group could ever uncover. Sure, we got things rolling, but they hijacked it. In the coolest way.
I'm not saying there's no need for creative companies anymore. But I think that the companies that work WITH these Citizen Marketers are the ones that will win. The ones that work AGAINST them are exposing themselves for what they are .... self-centered and just plain scared.
I'll leave you from my favorite comment from Brownstein's post:

Dear Ad Folks,
Please get over yourselves. Who do you think you are -- me?

Continue reading "The Customer Generated Media Backlash" ... Read the full article

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Spike Jones

Brains on Fire

Spike Jones hails from the Lone Star state, where they brainwash you at an early age to take pride in who you are and where you're from (and they sure got a hold of him). After graduating from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, he bounced around the country and finally landed in the Southeast over at the naming and identity company of Brains on Fire (

He began his career there as a copywriter, crafting compelling stories for national and international clients. And while Spike still enjoys wordsmithing, he is now involved on the creative strategy side of the business from insight to the creation of word of mouth movements to building regional and national identities for companies across many industries. Brands he’s helped strengthen include BMW, Rawlings Sporting Goods, Dagger Kayaks, Don Pablo’s Mexican Restaurants, Fiskars Brands, Yakima, Perception Kayaks and Rage Against the Haze (South Carolina’s youth-led anti-tobacco movement).

Spike has been a speaker at national and local events and is the main contributor to the Brains on Fire group blog (, which discusses current naming, identity and word of mouth issues and trends. It is also among the top read and resourced blogs in the marketing industry

When he’s not around his favorite people in the world (his fellow Brains on Fire-mates) or traveling around the country, you can find Spike out for a run flanked by his 100 lb. Chocolate lab, Mud.

Contact info:
Brains on Fire
148 River Street, Suite 100
Greenville, SC 29601

that fancy electronic mail:

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