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When last I wrote, it was to point out just how, sometimes, even using regular old contest tactics (last century’s technology), companies sometimes co-opt their consumers into being, you know, pitchmen and pitchwomen.
It’s nothing new, really. I’m not pretending it is. If you have an Izod shirt, you’re probably sporting a pitch. The saving grace for me is that I don’t care what you’re wearing or where you bought it. I know what really matters isn’t the brand or the logo or where it came from, or even how it looks.
What matters is how much you paid for it.
Well, the issue of companies purchasing you as a living breathing marketing tool has come up this week in an even more amusing or disturbing way, depending on how cynical you are.
It’s about John Edwards, his campaign launch (using social media folks like Rocketboom for video coverage and posting abilities), and the role that citizen journalists might end up playing in political campaigns.
So it’s disturbing that a politician, however good looking and benign and everything, might be replacing hired guns with volunteers who are unwitting in their complicity. I mean, if Rocketboom knows that they’ve got a new sideline as a cheapo political production house/social media marketing company, then great. The truth is that no matter how much they’re collecting in ad money now, and no matter who buys them up later, they could build a pretty sustainable and lucrative business by specializing in political ads — think of the market! Every councilmember from here to Vladivostock needs exposure. Rocketboom is in a position to have the expertise and the equipment.
But I digress.
It’s disturbing because most people don’t view Rocketboom’s participation as replacing consultants.
I fear they view at as a really solid, healthy alternative to the mainstream media, whatever that means. And the fact that they happen to be asking softball questions and riding in the plane chartered by the Edwards campaign and posting their video to his site doesn’t seem to diminish their value in the eyes of some blogtopia-minded folks. (Of course, it does bother many, many others, but for the sake of the all-important argument, let us not condemn my straw man just yet)
So that’s why it’s disturbing.
Why is it amusing?
Well, if you happen to be cynical, then you might think that the political process in this country is a sham, that the electoral system is beyond-repair-broken, and that even if it did work reliably well, the politicians we get are still bought and paid for and controlled by the business interests not only here in the U.S. but increasingly abroad, as those businesses become global, homeless gargantuans with no justifiable impetus other than to increase the bottom line for their investors, among whom it was their greatest genius to include so many of us, through our diversified investments and 401ks and whatever. You see? We’re so screwed, it’s literally almost not worth voting.
But you have to vote.
Because even if you’re cynical, it somehow feels wrong to skip voting. Unless you have something better to do.
Anyway, the title of the blog — I can’t really complain TOO much about Rocketboom, because Scoble’s on the bus, too. And we work for the same company (podtech.net).
Only thing I’ll say about that is that at least he’s not posting Edwards’s video on Edwards’s site for free.
Because the important thing isn’t the brand.
It’s how much you paid for it.

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