• Michael Weeding

Social marketing is drama looking for an audience.


When William Shakespeare’s wrote the line “All the worlds a stage” I guess he never had any real understanding as to how this would be quite literally adopted by marketers as a strategy that is now commonly used by many major brands as they leverage the opportunities born from the era of digital and social.

The act of theatre marketing looks to create a staged scene in a random location, the execution is only visible to a few who participate but can be shared with audiences all over the world through social media. Coke have done it many times with vending machines and a more recent example is IBM with their ads with a purpose that is doing the rounds of social media.

Ok so it is just social marketing, but I think the concept of theatre marketing has a more sophisticated ring about it. In the end it is just drama that is looking for an audience.

The IBM “Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities” example has been shared with me many times over the past few days, almost all of them are supported with the comment that either contains the words creative or innovative, such as “wow this in innovative”, or “a creative and functional way to improve the look of a city street”.

Let me think about it for a minute!

Ok, so a billboard that turns into a seat. Yes that is innovative and creative, but not so practical. I have thought long and hard and cannot find a location for a billboard in my day to day travels that will also be an effective location for a seat. Unless of course you want to sit 20 stories up in the air, or beside a train track.

The billboard that will also provide cover when it rains, very creative once again but when I am moving from destination A to B I do not usually feel a need to stop under a billboard that provides effective cover from the elements. I do not need a billboard with a curve, there are bus shelters that are conveniently located in most streets, if this fails shops have great hoardings that provide an effective cover from the elements or maybe an umbrella is good in this situation.

Last but not least a ramp for my bike to negotiate 4 stairs, well I do not own a bike so this is not relevant to me. I do own a skateboard and you do not need a ramp to negotiate stairs with a skateboard, you jump stairs. Just for the record I do not jump stairs on my skateboard so maybe the ramp is in fact very practical.

The point to note is that who cares whether the executions are really that practical and if the people using it were actually real people taking advantage of these convenient facilities or just actors. It was creative and innovative and it made for interesting and thought provoking viewing, in essence this is what drama is all about so that is good enough for a share or a like for me. Add to that the fact the words creative and innovative are probably common across all the buzz related to this campaign I think IBM would probably be very happy with the results as they promote their social platform that supports consumer’s ideas for creating a smarter planet.

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