Can Brands Be Friends?

Fabulous discussion on the stage at Cannes today with a world class panel, consisting of Blake Chandlee (Facebook), Jay Stevens (MySpace), Alex Schlaubitz (Intel) Antti Ohrling (Blyk) and Michael McLaren (McCann Erickson).

I posed questions on a series of topics ranging from how brands should behave in the new world to new formats and attitudes.

MRM Worldwide at Cannes 08

In summary. Facebook is a utility, and needs to establish the right business model to connect brands to the 80 million frequent users. A dream for advertisers in potential efficiency, but a challenge for advertising, to develop the right formats and language that is effective in this space. MySpace connects communities, and is interested in helping brands recognise that if there is a value exchange with the community, brand credibility goes up. Both Blake and Jay commented on how brands actually get support from their communities when those brands are criticised. Intel definitely has taken a position of a brand that wants to be successful in the new space. It has already developed strong ‘social media’ and ‘social network’ presence that has established permission for the brand as a listener and active participant. Blyk (which has 100k members in the UK right now) sees itself as a business that has established a successful value exchange with its membership by remaining absolutely relevant and providing only relevant messages to members (who get free texts and calls in return.) It only targets 16-24 year olds who profile themselves deeply. Michael McLaren expressed the need for brands to ‘grow ears’ in order to succeed. By listening to customers, brands can develop better relationships based on the conversation, rather than the one way message.

Thanks also to Matt Mayes who presented his Seismic Shift in Advertising piece as as a thought starter for the session. We have moved from an old media dominance to the place (here right now by the way) where the internet is the medium consumers are paying most attention to. It’s a pretty exciting world.

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