I’ve spent the last couple of days at the Forrester Consumer and Financial Services (combined) forums in Barcelona. Some pretty good speakers and some interesting ideas which I’ll go into in more detail later.
Overall, it seems, a consensus has broken out around the need for brands to embrace the changing nature of media to increase their relevance, and to actively involve their customers in the marketing and innovation process.
All good stuff but leaves me with one huge question unanswered – a question asked, and inelegantly side-stepped by one of the conference’s headline speakers, Blast Radius CEO, Gurval Caer: how come Apple, after-all the poster child for all things new, shinny and modern, doesn’t act in this way at all.
We hear that there is total secrecy around any new product launch. Every single piece of marketing, rather than being happily-clapping co-created by customers, is signed off directly by Mr Jobs himself. Twice a year at huge global media events, Jobs will announce the next big thing. And, when criticism comes, it’s neatly brushed under the apple carpet – never an open discussion from the company. Even when the issue was huge – buyer rights and DRM, we got a letter from Steve Jobs, posted – like a prohibition notice on the factory gates – on the front of the site.
And while we’re at it, for all it’s blogging and 80/20 time, does Google really involve its customers. Does anyone really think that OpenSocial wasn’t in discussion internally at Mountain View since the Orkut purchase, or certainly since F8 rolled out.
This isn’t a criticism of Apple, but rather a question. Given a single-minded enough focus, is there a role for more leadership from brands. Sure they’ll market to their biggest fans first but sometimes those fans would rather wait and here what the next miracle product is.