Sunday 20th December 2009 – the day that changed marketing forever?

You may have already seen on the news that this year’s X-Factor winner’s single DID NOT make it to the Christmas No.1 spot in the charts, having been beaten to the prized position by the controversial Rage Against The Machine classic, ‘Killing In The Name’.

So, what jolted the nation out of a music-buying pattern that had become a comfortable routine for the last 4 years?

Well, without giving a complete account, it was largely due to a Facebook campaign run by a number of people who couldn’t face another X-Factor Christmas. The campaign just gathered more and more momentum and is particularly exciting for those of us in the web industry for a number of reasons:

  • Surely it’s the final proof that social networking and media has now taken over from television as the number 1 influencing factor within buyer decision making.
  • It shows that a small number of people can make a massive difference with little or no financial backing – just a cause and some time.
  • It’s a fantastic case study for getting it ‘right’ – on brand, delivery / technology platform, dissemination tactics, killer content and for an underlying social benefit.

To elaborate:

  • On brand
    Rage Against The Machine didn’t just do the one-off protest song: they ranted on album after album, backed it up with live performances, videos and interviews – it was totally believable and had integrity.
  • Delivery platform
    It started on Facebook and wouldn’t have worked on MySpace, the normal site you’d associate with music.
    I’d say there are two mains reasons for this, namely that adults don’t really use MySpace and you have to be of a certain age to remember the song. But also, MySpace is a really noisy place to dwell – full of ‘check me out’ wannabe’s and almost no interactive content worth mentioning.
    Facebook is much more the place where conversations happen and things turn into something more than another shameless plug. It’s also worth pointing that the real-time online events surrounding the chart countdown were at fever-pitch! To quote a colleague here: “Last night, I was listening to the Radio 1 chart, reading the Facebook group, and following trends on TwitterFall. The Facebook group was crazy, there was literally around 10 posts every second, with people commenting in real-time on the chart music, passing on the latest sales-figures rumours, declaring their love for Rage, wishing people a happy Christmas, urging donations to charity, and just generally joining in with the general spirit of exuberant excitement. I may even have joined in with a ‘WOOOHOOOO’ of my own when the result was announced”
  • Dissemination tactic
    By starting with a group of like-minded individuals and a simple suggestion other people understood what was going on, why it was going on and got together to support it. In fact, so much support was acquired that the (initially sceptical) band themselves soon got on board. In turn news of this spread to many different forms of media including blogs, news items and Twitterfeeds, making the whole thing totally viral.
    The simple message with its unifying sentiment was allowed to grow and swell in different ways, unhindered, but with the focus of the Christmas deadline inspiring everyone to seize this moment in history and act.
  • Content
    It’s a fantastic song!! Whether you like it / agree with it or not you have to admit it’s as fresh today as it was almost 20 years ago. As a communication piece it’s quite brilliant: 

    • Simple message – one verse, one chorus repeated until you’re bludgeoned by it and it’s in your head.
    • A hookline (both vocally and instrumentally) that is easy to remember and a perfect length to stop you getting bored.
    • A message that scales, whether you are a teenager with a limited reality and blinkered world view giving the world a one finger salute to the refrain of “f*** you, I won’t do what you tell me” (as I was first time round – in my bedroom on my own or at a mate’s party – otherwise I’d have been grounded and doing very much what I was told). or whether you’re an adult who could well have experienced oppression in varying forms and can relate exactly or at least emphatically to the message. It really does have the ability to resonate with most people.
    • …And the people that it doesn’t resonate with are likely to be the exact people it’s designed to antagonise who then create more publicity for it – again – brilliant!
  • The Cause
    In a tag-team effort that perfectly flowed with the musical factors above, all proceeds went to the Homeless CharityShelter – £81kraised to date – you can donate here. Apart from being worthwhile in its own right, it ties in perfectly with the brand of the band themselves and the whole people-power thing.

To summarise the web community did all the marketing and propaganda that was required….and in the words of another Rage Against The Machine Song: ‘We got to take the power back!’.

So, let’s embrace the paradigm shift and throw our all into this new era of usable, relevant, consumer-led marketing and content / product development – there is no going back.



About finchleymusic

Businessman, Singer/songwriter, traveller, worship leader & mentor
This entry was posted in Music, play, psychology, society, work. Bookmark the permalink.

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