The Huchesontown flats in the Gorbals district of Glasgow. Designed by Sir Basil Spence and demolished by explosives – having become as bad to live in as the slums they replaced. Image courtesy of DebbieOD.

This post is from 2007 on the cusp of the social revolution

Here is a naïve hope for the future.

That our personal and intimate involvement in the social media revolution will stop us making the mistakes of the past when it comes to applying the many and varied techniques, tools and applications of web 2.0 and beyond to our clients’ brands.


One of the chief problems that faces marketing communications, of any discipline is that its practitioners are rarely on the receiving end of the material they produce. As a result they tend to lack a personal sense of what a piece of communication feels like and the context in which it appears. Much like the architects of mid century social housing.
One obviously assumes it’s the case with out-bound telemarketers otherwise why don’t they all go and jump off a cliff of shame somewhere?
It certainly seems the case with DM. Its practitioners are rather isolated from the experience of being on the receiving end of their activities. Sure they get the seed mailings but its all rather hypothetical. And what is more their work (being so direct) is rarely held up to public scrutiny. No doubt some bright spark at the Carphone Warehouse thought that sending me a mailing with 7 ‘personalised’ uses of my name was a brilliant wheeze when they could never know whether that was an appropriate approach (it wasn’t, it was crass) or that some arse had entered my name wrongly into their database. CRM fantasies always seem better in the boardroom than they do on the doormat.
It is less the case with moving image advertising since most people that make ads for TV, consume their own advertising in the breaks they themselves watch. Maybe this is why daytime TV advertising is so bad – the people that make it are at work scrutinising the cost per response, not watching the breaks and feeling the pain.
Bizarrely it should never have been the case with old school interruptive online advertising. Surely the people making all those pop ups were aware of how much we disliked them since they were very personally involved in the online experience of the time. I guess the lure of the fast buck led to much turning of blind eyes in the pre web 2.0 world.
So here is the naïve hope.
That because we are all intimately involved on a very personal basis with the social media revolution – writing blogs, reading blogs, Twittering, joining Facebook groups, playing MMORGs and the like that we will think twice about the way that we encourage brands to use these tools, applications, techniques and worlds. That we are enthusiastic when the approach is appropriate and cautious when our clinets brands or activities would be unwelcome.
Because we ourselves actually understand the context of communication, not from research, but from personal experience.

2012 update – guess no one bothered with this advice then

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