Pain is good

Pain is good was the message from Adam Freeman (Director, Consumer Media) at the Guardian who came and spoke at a MediaCom planning awayday last week.

Our topic was about change management, the hot topic at many awaydays at the moment I would think. Speaking to Marketing Magazine recently I coined the term “reconstruction” for the first half of 2010 rather than “recovery”. We’re all rebuilding in the light of shifting business models rather than hoping that the pain will go away if we clench our teeth and keep our eyes closed for long enough.

As Adam said – we need to go through a certain amount of pain in order to come out of it in a stronger and more competitive position.

The same sense of reconstruction and redesign is one that all front footed organisations have at the moment.

The Guardian’s journey has involved a good deal of change both in the revenue model and also in their journalism.

Stories like Trafigura http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/13/trafigura-carter-ruck-gag) and the G20 Ian Tomlinson tragedy (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/g20) owe a proportion of their brilliance to the speed of open source contributions. The publication trusted its readers to help with its then mission of being the worlds leading liberal voice.

How many marketing campaigns can we count that have taken such a risk? Certainly T-Mobile’s award winning Liverpool Street Dance and Sing-a-long communications programme relied heavily on real audience participation. But most advertising is still telling the audience things, not asking them to join in or acknowledging their role in creating a meaning for the brand.

Will this change any time soon ? Only when we’ve all gone through some more pain to prove how it can help to drive authentic returns for brand’s communications investment – and we’re building a bank of knowledge at MediaCom to show this, case by case. And only when we knock down some more of the brand architecture rules on which traditional advertising relies. Then we can begin reconstruction.”

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