SXSW Update: Brand Journalism

Brand Journalism panel @SXSW was jammed. People lined the walls and crammed into the back. Bob Garfield from Ad Age emcee’d, with Brian Clark, David Eastman, Kyle Monson, Shiv Singh.

Here’s the stream of discussion:
If everything is media, then everything is marketing, then how should brands behave? Digital culture is forcing marketers to behave differently as non-fiction creators.

Social media is built on goodwill and trust.

How do you forge a relationship around sugar water? Can’t hand over its brand to its consumers to co-create because it won’t be meaningful for the user. None of us have a deep relationship with the Austin Convention Center, but we do w/SXSW. In the case of Pepsi we must express our values. We spent our brand dollars on Pepsi Refresh and it was our outreach to address the downturn. We measured it to death. We didn’t focus on awareness. We focused on brand health.

Here’s what we measured:
>Brand persuasion + Brand influence + Brand emotion = Brand health
When we talk about a world gone social, Pepsi Refresh got 183,000 proposals of concrete ideas about how to make the country better. That’s important content. It has meaning. Who cares if Pepsi taste test proves so-and-so demographic likes it. Pepsi Refresh gave us really powerful insight and content that people care about.

Ford Volt (Chevy–see note)
Ford gave permission to find journalists to write about what direction Ford should go to turn the company around. No sanctions, no holes barred. The brand as a result is less about sheet metal porn and more about human beings. Real people talking about the brand, the company, and the driving experience.

*My thanks to the person who posted the simple comment questioning the brand confusion. The Volt is a Chevy product. I live blogged this post during a panel, which means my fingers flew across the keyboard, then it’s on to the next panel or meet up. And I apologize for the confusion. My bad. But I recall thinking at the time that Ford had also taken a social media approach to the Fiesta, but used very different tactics. Both are sporty compact cars–the Volt has an edge as an eco-friendly electric car. I made a mental note that I wanted to check later and see which of the two compact vehicles was selling better. Hence, I had Ford on the brain. Not excusing the error. Just sayin’. Now, to unpack my bags from SXSW on get back to reality.