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Making Your Brand King of the New Jungle

A debacle over a Greenpeace ad by UK food retailer Iceland late last year made it clear that the conventional gatekeepers for distributing content are now virtually powerless.

We’ve known for a while that shadowy campaigns of misinformation from Russia and other sources easily leach into our cultural consciousness, but recent events call into question whether even traditionally regulated content from advertisers need be crafted with concern about oversight. The Iceland/Greenpeace ad was seen by millions all over social media anyway—probably more than if it hadn’t been rejected in the first place.

Intentionally or not, Greenpeace (and arguably Iceland) benefited from a misunderstanding about exactly why the content was blocked, causing enthusiastic outrage—and the ad—to spread like wildfire. Even before the internet, this happened, and perceived bans create clamor for an unavailable piece of content or product.

While Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms continue to behave as if they merely provide the pipes for delivering content, with little or no responsibility for what’s in them, the new reality is that, unless you’re in China, it’s an unregulated jungle out there.

And yet, most brands have kept a steady course in terms of content during the rise of social media, focusing more on the medium than the message. It may be time to reconsider.

While the very necessary debate over whether and how we impose limits on what can be said online rages, brands have an opportunity to stretch their imaginations about how to promote products and services. This isn’t an invitation to mislead; instead it’s a call to creativity. What if $4.5m could create or deliver something rather than a Superbowl spot? In this new social jungle of effectively unregulated advertising, how will your brand stand out and own your category?

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