Someone’s going to pull off an ambush next month in Beijing. It may be a brand ambush, but it could also be a story ambush. There’s going to be a PR controversy over a brand defending the tactic, or someone attacking the ambusher.
I say this because of two trends that have collided:
- The capacity to blur the lines between mainstream and viral, and
- The field of diamonds that awaits the publicity seeker because of so much media attention on China
It could happen in a variety of ways, such as the old methods of sneaking in a T-shirt with a logo, a sign with an caustic slogan, or accidental product placement. But there are more sophisticated ways of beating the logo police. The whole idea of ambush marketing is to get attention not inside the Olympic village, but outside it. To you and me.
And that means defying not the logo police but the publishing police. Portable media such as smart phones and cameras can do that all too easily. Naturally the authorities have been cagy.
Rings around social media. And how about video sharing, live streaming, blogging? It’s so easy to stand up in front of an Olympic landmark -even a competitor’s sign –shoot a video and post it in a few clicks. The Official TV sponsor, NBC, may have the rights to all the venues, but rights means nothing to someone who has audience.
Rush to blog. Blog policy is being debated for obvious reasons. NBC has made sure it won’t be usurped by some media upstart, and is embedding its own journalist-blogger, Alan Abrahamson, at the games. Other blogs have cropped up fast, such as the New York Times‘ Rings, and The China Beat written by a group largely comprised of academics. Not media people, mind you! If I remember correct, athletes are still allowed to blog.
At the time of writing, there are 23,800 YouTube videos that come up for the keywords “2008 Olympics.” This includes a BBC clip using a ‘pollution detector‘ that tells a damaging story. In sixty days you can bet that number will be a lot higher, and quite possibly include a few that document tales of ambush.