The Game is Changing!

“Because life is not a spectator sport” – a tagline for Reebok in the 1980s is the mantra for brand building in the 21st century. Brands cannot expect consumers to be static spectators to their messages. Participation is becoming second nature in everything we are doing. Even the way we watch sports has changed. For anyone tweeting while watching the FIFA World Cup would have experienced the game in a way they have never experienced before. It was like watching the game with the world. Proof of this phenomena comes from the fact that a new Twitter record was created in the World Cup with 3282 tweets per second after Japan’s win over Canada (for perspective average Twitter usage is about 750 tweets per second). Brands need to engage consumers in the same way. They have to get in the field, play the game with their consumers and continue the relationship off the field. If there is a likability and genuineness in the engagement then hopefully they would be invited for the next game. This is a radical shift in the role of marketers. Like in a relationship the dynamics of media, mobile and the web have changed the way we interact with brands. Any attempt by a brand to fake it’s way into the consumer’s life is impossible. It’s like befriending someone with an ulterior motive. It’s only a matter of time before true intentions become apparent and the impending aftermath would be nothing short of catastrophic. Social media is simply too powerful and things can spread really fast. As we have seen in the case of BP recently social media has been unforgiving and the impact to the brand has been phenomenal (although a lot of what BP has done at any level is their own doing but that’s another matter).

Telecom brands would have to built based on these same principles. Fortunately the telecom sector is at the forefront of this change, experiencing the impact first hand. As people spend more time online operators are seeing a remarkable shift in data usage, for example NTT DoCoMo reports that approx. 90% of their network traffic is data, for Vodafone this number is about 70%. As Susan Wojcicki, VP Public Policy and Communications at Google put it “U.S. users spend 12 hours per week online, which represents about 32 percent of their media time.” People are spending more time online and doing so using their mobile with increasing frequency. In the US a 110% growth in mobile web usage has been noted in 2009. Point being that habits are changing. For a telecom operator besides the obvious business impact there are huge implications on the way a telecom brand is built.

Using the TeleCompass as a guide to determine a brand’s promise is one thing. Taking this brand promise forward is another. And it is here where the rules of brand communication are being rewritten. To illustrate this point I would refer to one brand who has embraced the new role of the consumer and ensured that everything the brand does is something which involves consumer participation, engages them in way that encourages sharing and builds a genuine two way relationship.

The brand is Koodo Mobile – an MVNO by Telus in Canada. Looking at the 8 spaces on the TeleCompass Koodo Mobile has taken the “Heroism” platform for their brand. By using an iconic character “El-Tabador” Koodo Mobile has taken upon itself the fight for phone freedom.

Building on this promise, Koodo Mobile has made creative use of YouTube to develop an interactive video game – something in which the user can participate and fight against Bloatimus Contractimus.

This is the kind of work that defines our era in which more people are using media that allows for greater participation and play. Koodo Mobile as a telecom player has made use of this new media by creating content that keeps the consumer actively engaged with the brand. As a follow-up to their initial work the latest YouTube interactive video game that went viral early this year was “Sugar Streak – Can you catch the Gingerbread man?”

Reposted from the Luciola Blog

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