White elephants, advertising, and interactive and social media marketing

Are you prepared for the risk?

Today we’re doing our annual white elephant gift exchange. It can be a blast if you end up with a nice bottle of wine or an iTunes gift card. However, the unlucky end up with garden gnomes and REO Speedwagon LP’s. You never know what you’ll end up with in the end which makes it a lot more exciting than secret Santa, where you simply get what you deserve.  The uncertainty of how it will end, and the promise of a potentially great gift, makes playing worth while.

The truth of marketing and advertising these days is a lot closer to white elephants than it is the old days of advertising. With the explosion of media content and the tools consumers have to avoid your marketing, you’d be foolish to expect every single effort to be either an unbridled success or failure. There are few opportunities to hit a home run and reach a truly mass audience these days – unless you really want to spend your entire marketing budget on a single Super Bowl impression.

Let’s just acknowledge the truth, there’s a great deal of dumb luck involved in what someone types into a search engine or browser address bar. It just can’t be controlled. Back in the days of popular magazine titles and three networks, assumptions were and could safely be made.

I think this means we all have to play. But play with the assumption that sometimes it’s going to go really well, sometimes not so well, and will usually go as expected. And if we bring the right attitude and strategy to the game, it can be a whole lot of fun trying.

Update: In case you’re wondering, I ended up with a bag of airplane-sized vodka bottles. One watermelon flavored. They’ll remain in my desk drawer in case of emergency.

Posted on: December 17, 2009, by :