Cultural Movements Usurp Traditional Marketing

I’ve written extensively about Cultural Movements. They have the power in this digital world of ours to create huge new brands, rip down governments and break age-old traditions. I looked at Cultural Movements from the perspective of marketing, politics, technology and culture.

The two most important aspects of our world are clearly technology — its ability to make the world more efficient, sustainable, more humane — and culture — how we do what we do. It’s natural then to look upon the revolution happening in the traditional advertising world with understanding and clarity.

Of course Cultural Movements make sense compared to the Stalin approach to marketing, which is how many of the traditional brands market and interact with their consumers — their fans. Cultural Movements is StrawberryFrog’s DNA. Cultural Movements is the process StrawberryFrog uses to develop innovative strategies for our clients. But more, it’s about curating culture and creating communities and platforms for people to circle their wagons around an idea that is relevant and important to them. A Cultural Movement is about being passionate, militant almost. It’s about joining a movement that you care about.

Some people ask whether any product or politician can spark a Cultural Movement. In theory, I believe every product can. But those products that are the opposite of authentic will have difficulty perpetuating a Cultural Movement over time. Fakes and phonies will be found out. The consumer is now the truth junkie who never forgets, who puts two and two together.

Case in point: the criticism surrounding Dove’s natural beauty campaign in many online blogs because Unilever, the company behind Dove, is also responsible for Axe/Lynx deodorant that portrays women in an altogether different way than Dove. The consumer figured this out, and instead of writing a letter to the company, told thousands of people about it.

You can’t hide these days. The truth is essential to a prolonged Cultural Movement.

Another case in point is a politician seeking the presidential nomination. He sparked a Cultural Movement for change. He gave his advocates a grassroots community to join, and he built an easy-to-use online toolbox that lets anyone be his or her own campaign manager.

Some brands are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in traditional advertising to support brands in media that no longer claim the authority they once did. These are brands that are thinking and acting a lot like Hillary Clinton. New brands, without the legacy and the baggage, can navigate around them and spark Cultural Movements for their brands that will have both an accelerated marketing effect and a long-term one.

Cultural Movements mean the inside of the traditional ad industry is being ripped out, and the huge institutions that have lived off the old model risk being the Bear Stearns of advertising unless they accelerate their catch-up.

My bet — and a lot of my personal money — is on the agile, small innovations companies versus the Greys of the world. Some of these companies like Anomaly, AKQA and StrawberryFrog are more nimble. Some of these companies that you’ve never heard of like Persuasion Arts and Sciences, NebuAd, Project Rialto, Phorm, Frontporch and Adzilla are kicking down the doors, ripping out the cobwebs and blowing out the dust.

Just like Barack Obama did with Hillary Clinton. And looking ahead to November, will Cultural Movements lift this man to the White House? What do you think?

Scott Goodson is CEO of StrawberryFrog.