Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Power Of The Selfie: Forget Product Placement, Focus On Idea Placement

The Coca Cola Company and the ALS Foundation know something.  Do you know it, too?  
A picture is no longer worth a mere thousand words.  It's worth a a hundred thousand instant converts.    

That's the ingenuity behind the new Coke can that incorporates evocative words such as "Friend," or personal names, into the iconic Coke logo. 

By now, who hasn't seen an image come across their favorite social media venue with someone holding up one of these redesigned Coke cans?  The caption always reads something like:  "This one's for you, Ray/Julie/Larry/Mia/Boss/Star."  The new Coca Cola campaign is being turbo-boosted by willing accomplices who Like, Share and Comment on each others' photos of products, billboards, and light-up Times Square signage.

It's not product placement.  It's idea placement:

Coke = friendship.  

And Coke sales are surfing the wave of good feelings and goodwill. 

Brilliant.

So are the ubiquitous ice bucket challenges which have netted record donations for ALS research while they forge an indelible, good-natured connection between idiot pranks and idealism.  This time, the idea placement looks like this:

Ice buckets = altruism.

Or, another way to put it:

Imagine a world where no one gets Lou Gehrig's Disease... and where all your friends get hilariously soaked to their skin in freezing water, and it's caught on camera for posterity.  

Brilliant -- again.  

But this time, the brilliance wasn't born in a marketing meeting and driven by corporate ad spending.  Did you know?  The ALS Challenge started with one average do-gooder who only had a smart phone, an ice bucket, and an idea.

Once, only Big Marketing or Big Journalism could mount a campaign that influenced society this way. They alone had the power to plaster society with pictures that delivered  pointed punchlines.  And those required vast quantities of network television airwaves and magazine ads.

Network television?  Magazines?  Those are relics now -- they've practically gone the way of the town crier.  Now anyone with a flair for attention-getting can use his smart phone to send up a flare that catches the world's attention.

Social media is the new influencer.  What can this mean for you?

Ask yourself: 
  • What's the core message I want to promote?  
  • What's the basic belief I want to place in heads and hearts?
  • What's the feel-good connection I want to create?


Load it into a seductive social media experience. Adopt the Coke Can Selfie approach to change attitudes.  Repair reputations. Raise awareness.  Raise money.  Spark a mania. 

If you can make your idea visual, you can make your idea viral. 

So now, about the mechanics. How do you persuade people to offer themselves as your poster children? 
  • Give them a glamorous or striking object to pose with: a mansion, a classic car, a celebrity look-alike.
  • Dress them up in your colors or your clothing line.  
  • Stage a carnival-style game so they can take pictures of themselves winning. 
  • Invite them to feed each other a free sample of your food product, on camera, in front of your eating establishment.
  • Offer them a prize to dance to your theme song.
  • Pose them with an funny oversize prop, a fistful of fake money, or cute animals.
  • Hold a team event, give players a team shirt with your message on it, and take action shots.  
  • Use a photogenic stunt to embody your idea.  Hula hoop performances, cup-stacking challenges, toilet paper mummy-wrapping, and shopping cart races come to mind.
You get the concept.  Try it.  

Give your target audience a story, and a stage to play it out, and they just might "selfie" your message out to all their friends.  

All it takes is an average person -- you -- a compelling message -- and an interesting image.  

What idea placement will you instigate? And how will it alter your life? 

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