Social objects and Spectacle: the circus comes to town

Posted by on Oct 26, 2007 in Uncategorized | One Comment


Have been working on an interesting project recently which tries to use creative comms in a very different way from how we normally do, based on social object theory – making interesting things to interact around (at least, that’s what I’ve been doing).

3 thoughts:

1. how hard it is to make social object communication if you hang on to the idea that marketing communication has anything to do with transmitting messages/information from brands to consumers. It just drags you back to channels and pipelines and stops you thinking about how people interact around what it is that your’e doing (even thinking about what consumers might say to each other is a distraction as it still involves information and memory and the full kitbag of individualist psychology).

2. far better to think about our job as being to create experiences or spectacles even, like the Sultan’s elephant which brought London to a standstill last year. This is a bit like Zeus Jones‘ idea of making the marketing part of the brand experience. And while we’re on the subject, advertising needs to be an experience worth bothering with.

3. And thinking of elephants and spectacles, I’ve been coming back again and again to the thought that the best of modern marketing is like the circus parade: a whole host of experiences for an audience which they then re-use (as the content for what really matters to them of social interaction with their peers). The parade should stir up excitement and enthusiasmos – it should in itself be someting good to do together – but that experience should stimulate further social interaction. But the parade is not a military control-freakery thing: it’s a tumbling, self-organising (up- and down-)scaleable experience. Seeing a clown buying cigs is just as impactful and surprising in its way as the full-on marching band thing. But perhaps, and more importantly, the circus doesn’t take itself too seriously (though they do know how to part us from our money).

Any thoughts?

Update: check Russell’s take on all of this. Honest, I hadn’t seen this when I posted originally

1 Comment

  1. Adrian Ho
    October 29, 2007

    I love this especially, #1. I do think that spectacles suggests more of a voyeuristic experience than you’re really meaning. Your point about doing stuff together (brands and people) is important to hang onto.