Monthly Archives: March 2009

Rethinking the model of brand building

The marketing director and his team had spent months agonising over the brand’s positioning. Brand wheels, brand keys and various other brand positioning models had been used in an attempt to define the brand’s core values, essence and customer proposition. A design agency had made a few subtle adjustments to the brand’s logo and produced [...]

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The worst type of case study

The chapter on Apple in our book was, without doubt, the most difficult part to write.  How do you make sense of a company that is so successful, yet fails to follow most of the Crowd Surfing principles?  Apple is a closed culture.  They don’t tolerate bloggers (either internal or external), show little interest in creative [...]


Less stick more carrot

Stupid name … great idea. The Carrotmob is an activist group, based in California, that uses the power of collective purchasing to persuade businesses to behave in a more socially-responsible way.  It is people power in its purest form – the corporation agrees to operate more responsibly than its competitors and, in return, the ‘mob’ [...]

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A beautiful idea

A great example of how traditional notions of expertise and authority have been redefined in the age of consumer empowerment.  Lauren Luke’s journey from South Shields taxi driver to global cosmetics guru and entrepreneur is an inspirational case study for anyone who dreams of turning a personal passion into a viable business.  Despite a lack of formal beauty training, [...]

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Getting the crowd running

Another good example from Nike of how to inspire the crowd into action.  We may witnessing a rise in self expression and collective action within society, but it still takes a creative trigger to make things happen.  And one of the simplest triggers is to pit one crowd against another.  We have already had North London running against  [...]

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When lawyers control brands

The lawyers at Mars have just slapped a cease and desist order on the creators of an unauthorised website for Snickers.  The site, created by digital agency Poke, allowed people to customise the Snickers logo.  Not only have 80,000 people – who we have to assume are Snickers fans – visited the site, but it [...]

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From Warhol to Facebook

Here’s a really interesting anecdote on how business behaviour has changed in response to consumer empowerment, brought to my attention by the IAB’s  Stuart Aitken.  In 1962, Coca-Cola slapped a cease and desist order on Andy Warhol for producing this unauthorised image, featuring Coca-Cola bottles. Not even Warhol was allowed to put his personal stamp on the [...]

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Crowd Surfing in Leeds

This is probably as close as you can get to a film version of the book … unless Danny Boyle calls us up.  These videos were recorded during a recent presentation, hosted by our good friends at Finn PR in Leeds.  Thanks to Richard and James for organising the event.

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The commercial limits of self expression

Much has already been written about Skittles being forced to remove a Twitter feed from its homepage, after it had been hijacked to publish obscene messages.  Within 24 hours, an initiative that had been considered bold and innovative – a great example of how to use a hot, new social media platform to support a brand – was [...]

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Skin Story

Consumer empowerment is typically characterised by a willingness to embrace collective action and a spirit of self expression.  Both of these traits have been exploited by US artist, Shelley Jackson, in her new project ‘Skin: a mortal work of art’.  Jackson has been able to persuade 2,095 complete strangers to agree to have one word of a [...]

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