A little bit of background here.
A couple of years ago a good friend of mine told me that whilst he was very happy in the relationship he was in, he was worried that there had never been the explosive passionate start to a relationship that he always assumed would announce the arrival of his one true love, in his words he “never felt the fireworks”. Now I knew that he was on to a great thing with the girl he was with and explained (drawing on my meagre relationship experience) that some relationships are like fireworks and some relationships are more like the bonfire that come after the fireworks. The flashes bang, bright lights and explosions are great to get things started, but you hang around to keep warm and cosy next to the roaring fire. Personally in the long run I’d rather have the bonfire on it’s own than a huge commercial fireworks display that is spectacular, exciting and thrilling, but that ultimately fizzles out and leaves you cold.
Now I’m sure you’re saying “umm Dan, I thought you wrote about geeky media and technology and stuff – what’s with the love guru angle?” but the fact is there is a point.
The same friend told me yesterday that he went to a presentation recently in which the speaker likened good communications planning to the same analogy. I wasn’t there so this is third hand information, but the idea went along the lines that when a brand does big above the line advertising it is like a big fireworks display that draws you in, but the stuff that keeps you interested, the more direct interaction with the brand and the product – that’s the substance – the bonfire if you will.
I personally thought that this was a lovely analogy, but I think I can take it one step further. If the fireworks represent paid for media and stunts and the bonfire represents the dialogue between consumer and brand in “owned” media (website, pack, facebook pages etc) then how can we reflect the conversations and advocacy that happens between consumers – Well obviously it’s the sparklers – everyone knows that sparklers are the best bit of bonfire night, the time when you can get hands on and pass on the excitement of the evening – when you can let your own creativity loose and become part of the evening. Until Sparklers come out you’re just a spectator, but get your hands on (the right end) of those fizzing sticks of fun and you become a bonfire ambassador!
So there’s my analogy
Bought media = Fireworks
Owned media = Bonfire
Earned media = Sparklers