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What brands can learn from colbert and lonelygirl15

August 30, 2006

The last month has seen a couple of interesting milestones in the world of media, Influx feels that they are signifiers of things to come, rather than fads that just happened to capture our fleeting attention spans.

First up, there was Lonelygirl15, who got everyone talking on the web for at least a week for all kinds of reasons. First she captivated us and then we wanted to work out who she was and who or what was behind her. She captivated and intrigued in equal measure.

Then, forty something wannabe Fox News Reporter, Stephen Colbert, decided to open source his content to the web community for remixing. His Star Wars inspired, green screen, light sabre antics caught the imagination of the video mash-up crowd who responded by adding elements, some of which Colbert played back on his show, generating some kind of virtuous circle between old and new media and celebrity and audience.

So these two events, just look like another week in the world of media in a Web 2.0 world, it was only a few weeks ago that Hasselhoff topped the attention charts and before that it was Zidane.

Influx is suggesting that these two moments are a little different, a little deeper if you like and that brands can learn a little from their example.

Lonelygirl15 tells us that storytelling matters and that having an interesting story and being enigmatic can be powerful thing. The idea of mystery and interaction is constantly finding its way into some of most compelling contemporary narratives and there’s no reason why brands shouldn’t be doing the same.

Colbert’s gesture of “here’s some content go and play with it” was different from what we’d experienced before. Most of the time, this type of thing had been limited to the tight confines of the web, but on television, the idea just seemed to have more power.

So here are 5 new rules:

1. Don’t be afraid to use traditional media to give away your content for creative use by the consumer. Couldn’t television ads just be a series of assets that you encourage people to use, remix and send back to you?

2. Don’t be afraid to tell stories

3. Don’t worry by making them long and mysterious

4. It’s good to let the audience complete the story for you

5. Don’t be afraid to turn the whole thing into a game

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