So, I've recently been hearing this phrase bouncing around our truly brilliant media department: Impact Media. It's not that I don't like the phrase, I do. It's very hip sounding. Easy to glom onto. Here's the problem. I don't agree with it. I know that in the world of advertising we are always tasked with "breaking through", with "having an impact". Some agencies refer to this as "disruptive media".
This past year, in order to promote McDonald's iced coffee, our creative team put to-go mugs reading "cold is coming" inside ice blocks and in the wee small hours of the morning left them in the middle of downtown Seattle. Very cool. The press picked this up (of course), people walked around them, took pictures, etc. Was this guerrilla tactic "impact media"? I think it qualifies based on my loose understanding of the jargon.
But the problem comes with the encouragement of all teams to come up with "impact" tactics. I think there's an opportunity missed. Maybe it's just semantics, but I think rather than coming up with ideas that shock and awe, we should be creating ideas that delight and surprise (endless praise & big thanks, Bruce Mau). I think we should be encouraging our creative teams to discover ways of making citizens (note: not consumers) want to be part of the experience. And I don't mean by "opting-in" to email bombardment. I mean getting people to want to find your product or service, and hunger to be a part of it. Experientially. Sensorily. As Mike Murphy from Facebook said at APG, "don't be disruptive, be inclusive."
Lastly, I think inclusivity is the tactic most overlooked and misunderstood by creative and media (and yes, absolutely, positively) planning departments. I believe if we're defining new media, we mustn't forget that the key element to the way people engage with the world feeds off of the notion of personal choice and high personal stakes. Not in a superficial "what's in it for me?" way, but in a way that clearly reaches out to the values and behaviors that are important to the engaged citizen. Remember that aside from its current online implication, the word "interactive" means creating a give and take, communicative relationship between user and product. A two-way street if you will that goes beyond making an impact, it creates a relationship, a bond. We should aim for tactics and experiences that don't just "wow" people, but ones that ask for their participation (be it to touch, watch, share, taste...). Calling all advertisers, calling all clients: Now is the time for Inclusive Media.