Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where in the World are Laure Manaudou and Hope Solo?

Laure Manaudou is a French Olympic, European and world champion swimmer. Hope Solo is a goal keeper for the US Women’s National Soccer team. Both are very successful athletes whose notoriety has reached far beyond their respective sports. Laure Manaudou‘s new found fame was generated by a humoristic piece entitled “Laure Manaudou Sex Video” on YouTube that drew more than 1M viewers. The joke is that the video was about monkeys and fortunately not about Laure Manaudou. Because of all the attention it garnered, Laure Manaudou was also in the top 5 searches on Technorati for quite some time…

As for Hope Solo, she gained tremendous publicity through her temporary exile from the U.S. Women’s National Team. Indeed, her exile became the dominant story line at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Unbeaten Hope Solo was benched by the coach in favor of veteran goalkeeper Briana Scurry just before a crucial semifinal game against Brazil that the US ended up loosing. USA today reported that this incident drove up ESPN’s ratings and filled blogs and comment pages with a passion not seen since the big USA win at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup and Brandi Chastain’s jersey toss. In addition, there was a back-story to this incident recounting Hope Solo’s relationship to her father and his tragic passing a few months before the World Cup.

I’m relating these two “soap” stories to illustrate how public attention – though ever so short term- is driven by what I’d call the phenomenon of “Tribal Voyeurism”. I believe that it is critically important for B2B marketers to research and understand the mechanics of “Tribal Voyeurism”. Indeed, the glaciers between the B2C and B2B worlds, if they ever existed, are definitely melting! They’re melting not because of global warming but because, as noted before, of the ever increasing use of social media tools in the enterprise. Moreover, the hyper-mediatized “prosumer” has been completely saturated and become indifferent to the un-imaginative, un-inspired gobbledygook prose dished out by the vast majority of B2B marketers, and is hungering for a more genuine and entertaining style of communication!

I’m by no means suggesting that B2B marketers should become unsavory, voyeuristic, and soapy, but rather that they need to learn to appreciate and accept how professionals access and evaluate information. There are many successful companies that have succeeded in attracting and keeping the public interest either through style, meaning or both. This includes the likes of Apple, Salesforce.com, Facebook, PG&E (yes, the utility company), Interface and many others. So, break the mold. Create. Imagine. And have some fun!

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