Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Google Zeitgeist

Last week, I was invited to Google’s Zeitgeist forum at The Grove in Hertfordshire to host a panel on "Branding Today and Tomorrow". The session was opened by David Miliband, Secretary of State for the Environment. He made a compelling argument that in the UK, we have moved politically and socially from the “I want” and “I need” generations to the “I can” generation. It’s a great moment when even the politicians have come to understand that the consumer is boss!

I had the honor of opening the business sessions with a heavyweight panel comprising Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, BSkyB CEO James Murdoch, Robin Harper from Second Life, and Mercedes-Benz's Olaf Goettgens. The panel was passionate about consumers, connectivity and community, optimism and technology. And they offered some broad brush global perspectives: looking east towards China, India and Indonesia is an imperative; the Middle East remains positive given the likely continued rise in oil prices and, while US resilience and pragmatism deserve praise, Europe is set to remain sluggish.

In a stroke of dramatic timing, the conference took place 24 hours after Google’s acquisition of Double Click, Microsoft’s acquisition of aQuantive, and WPP’s acquisition of 24/7 Real Media. It was a day for frenemies and froes, co-opetition at its finest - spiced with proximity. Many of these companies, like Microsoft, BSkyB and Google, are now becoming buyers and sellers of advertising. It reminds me of the retail business, where Wal-Mart is both P&G’s customer and competitor. It is definitely a world of and/and. Should be fun.


Susan956 said...

..sounds a little like acquisitive shuffleboard
*sits with chin in hands* *shakes out of reverie*
Aspects of this are out of my world experience
(I will go unblock the s-bend now) *grin*

I'm glad you drew encouragement and energy from the experience. Despite that comment about "out of world experience" I have to believe the connectivity still exists.. just 'scales' of difference...

Susan956 said...

I clicked on the Zeitgeist link and watched and listened. May I offer a list of responses? Can one use mild expletives in this forum? :-) Here we go...

1. Zeitgeist. I felt pissed off over the word. I know what it means but I dislike language exclusion. I've been on academic forums where individuals may as well have been posting in pure German. They would form a small nebulus within the group talking openly but not allowing the rest of the group in. I concede Zeitgeist was being used in a global forum and was more than reasonable but I had a negative reaction almost instantly.

So, reason often follows emotion/knee jerk.

2. I LOVE the haka. My throat welled up, and eyes. One of THE most evocative scenes was watching the Silver Ferns about to play and a NZ police officer at the side of the hall suddenly breaking into the Haka. Now, that impromptu, without plan action really spoke. It is power and emotion from within that cannot be contained - and THAT is infectious.

3. "Loyalty beyond reason". I suspect this also involves forgiveness. I think this quality may not be recognised.

4. That 'snort the brain' power. I hate medical things so was wincing but..what an impact! Well done even as I gulp.

5. There was mention of giving up control, in part, to 'networks'. This is a topic I'd love to discuss unto itself. "The malt shop and NOT the mall" is a quote and a function of a major research project I conducted online. If we have the opportunity I'd like to talk more on this. Apropos to the online space we're in, in a way.

6. Moisturiser comment. Consumers are smarter than ever before and most know that there is no scientific basis to suggest moisturisers (in the main) "work". So, advertising these needs to move away from the 'smoke and mirrors' mentality and credit both consumer knowledge and consumer fear (of getting old and so forth). Nothing wrong with salves or placebos or stroking the mind via an external agent :-)

And the beer? Try Cooper's :-) Although a mate on the north coast of NSW makes home brew than surpasses anything I know.

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