Amelia Torode posted today on her blog about how old ways of communicating with audiences by bringing value over and above seem to be coming back into brand correspondence. It’s a good post and has some great 20th century examples. You should read it.
The discussion that followed between John Dodds and David Bausola led me to thinking about digital projects and their impact models. I am not sure that new models can be measured in old ways, or at least not at this stage of the game when new combinations of digital content with brand dna are emerging all the time. The best example of this is The Beast. It was created by Microsoft to launch AI: Artificial Intelligence. It is considered the first fully mature ARG and is well -known beyond ARG circles. It’s the progenitor of “experiences” such as Volvo’s Pirates of the Carribean treasure hunt. It’s well known, but I bet you don’t know anyone who played it. I don’t even know anyone who played it and I know the writers of it!
I guess it could be described as demonstrating long-tail brand value. The innovation will continue to attach itself to Microsoft and to Stephen Speilberg long after ARGs have become more complex and satisfying experiences than The Beast.
With experiences such as these, as well as The Joneses you are dealing with an audience that reaches out to find stuff, finds pleasure in the search and is intensely dedicated. Then they are the people who tell other people, the early adopters, the Mavens (as Malcolm Gladwell) described them in his book The Tipping Point. So though they share characteristics with viewersof soap opera, comparing them with massive audiences of passive consumers isn’t right. They bring value in a different way and so the projects have different drivers and different end results.
One interesting thing about The Joneses is that though the project is officially “over” interest continues to grow and people continue to come to the blog and watch the video posts. Because we used distributed, free, social media as the distribution platform Ford will continue to gain value from the project for as long as these free platforms last. That’s quite a return on anyone’s investment.