The Marketing Democracy is a consulting firm that helps marketers, marketing services agencies, and the media integrate their various marketing assets into powerful, integrated marketing solutions. We have specific expertise in finding the powerful intersection between creative (content) and media (channel).

Who drew the line, anyway?

March 16th, 2009

Not too long ago, marketing pundits debated the value of “above the line” vs. “below the line” marketing services offerings. Who drew the line, anyway? What started as a cost accounting term unfortunately became bad nomenclature for powerful marketing assets that needed to work in tandem to drive holistic solutions. We eventually realized our mistake and started advocating “through the line” solutions. Whew!! Now that we have our language straight, we can move on to the next powerful integrated marketing buzz-phrase.

Enter the “push vs pull ” media debate. In our obsession to classify media channels, we have once again created a line. I will submit that the line is faulty…not a “fault” line in a geological sense, but “at fault” as in somewhat flawed thinking. I do not believe we can distinguish between “push” and “pull” media. Thanks to technology and the convergence that comes along with it, good “push” media has several “pull” attributes and vise versa.

Case in point: let’s take a look at American Idol. As a “broadcast” property, shouldn’t American Idol fall on the “push” side of the line? But, wait…the broadcast show commands direct response from its fans in the form of voting: a “pull” behavior. The show enables fans to engage with both the contestants via fan sites and their music through a relationship with iTunes. Again, these points of engagement are clearly defined as “pull”. If we attempt to cume the impressions generated by the American Idol experience across “push”/”pull” platforms, we will most likely discover an experience that is much more balanced than any label we can apply to the property.

Now, let’s look at the flipside: In The Motherhood, a web-series written by Moms, about Moms. On the surface, this concept is a brilliant example of “pull” media that draws consumers into a true community and invites them into the content creation experience. But, wait! Now the web-series has been picked up by ABC who plans to air 13 episodes in primetime! Can we still classify this property as a “pull” play? Again, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

What can we make of all this? Any good media platform should have “push” and “pull” characteristics attached to it. Where do we draw the line? I have an idea: let’s create a clear line between good and bad content. In today’s age of convergence, any “good” idea will quickly become “mass” as people find it, celebrate it, and perpetuate it. Also, any “good” idea will command involvement by default. It’s virtually impossible not to create “pull” around a compelling experience. On the flipside, it’s equally impossible to “push” or “pull” bad ideas: they just tend to fall through the cracks.

I guess we just discovered the proper use of a fault line!


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