No one could have predicted the momentous impact that Web 2.0 would have on society. It has influenced a society where citizens are able to share and find information from around the world with the click of a button. This power and freedom has led to an online democracy of user-generated content creation within a variety of online environments (Bruns, 2004). A new habitat, inhabited by an abundance of species ranging from blogs and social networking sites to online forums. This has resulted in more informed and involved consumers, coined by futurist, Alvin Tofler as “prosumers”. Web 2.0 has created a tool that has allowed individuals to break through the traditional boundaries between producers and consumers. Enabling citizens to be not only the users but also the producers of information (Bruns, 2004).
This paradigm shift has led to the emergence of “Citizen journalism”, which is creating vast change not only within the industry of journalism, but advertising too. The terms definition is widely deliberated, being described by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis as “[t]he act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information.” The technological advancement in open source, user-friendly software, has allowed for a world where everyone and anyone with a device with Internet access can become apart of this fast emerging group of citizens (Jurrat, 2011). Ultimately it has initiated a new hierarchy of information, no longer governed by head corporations. Readers have indeed become the reporters and citizens and journalists now share the same identity (Jurrat, 2011).
The introduction of ‘citizen journalism’ has empowered civilization to apprehend the powerful potential the Internet has granted them. Similarly large corporations- especially leading advertising agency’s- are utilizing and leveraging the opportunities that have stemmed as a result. The ‘customer-made trend’ is the idea of “tapping into the collective experiences, skills and ingenuity of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world” (Trend watching ) . This has permitted corporations and citizens to combine their intellectual capital, to create and develop products and services that are both necessary and applicable to society. ‘Customer-made’ is not only rewarding for advertising agencies but its customers too. It allows citizen’s to obtain an input within the industry/brand, whilst simultaneously fulfilling a range of fundamental human needs. According to Trend Watching these include:
- Status: fulfilling a person’s sense of purpose and recognition in society, and to illustrate their creativity and knowledge.
- Personalized lifestyle: ability to be involved in the tailoring of necessary goods and services.
- Monetary gain: can potentially be provided with profit cuts from companies.
- Employment opportunities: tool to show off their talents to potential employers, who may in turn recruit them for campaigns.
- Fun and involvement: sense of fulfillment and excitement produced working alongside brands one loves.
The central principles behind ‘customer-made’ and its utilization of the global brain is essentially ‘citizen advertising’. The primary role of advertising is to fulfill certain consumer desires and/or needs. ‘Citizen advertising’ has the potential to take the industry to the next level as it offers companies a window into the mind of the consumer, allow them to fully engage, interact, persuade, and create relationships with consumers.
There are many innovative companies and brands that have already managed to tap into the valuable concept behind ‘citizen advertising’. An example of this was a campaign conducted by Nokia. The Nokia Concept Lounge held in Benelux 2005, for the Benelux design awards, invited designers to share and discuss ideas for the next Nokia phone (Trend watching ). Entries poured in from around the world, resulting in an array of innovative concept phones, but Nokia couldn’t have been happier with the design concept of winner, Tamer Nakisci. The designer from Turkey, created the stylish and innovative wrist-band phone that sent manufactures around the world into a frenzy and won Nokia a multitude of awards and praise.
‘Citizen advertising’ will continue to gain momentum within society as consumers become further empowered by technology and its advancements. This trend is altering the traditionalist way of thinking, and redefining new relationships between consumers and brands. Furthermore it utilizes a uniquely powerful source once untouched by companies- the reservoir of intellectual capital.
Bruns, D. A. (2004, 05). Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. Retrieved 10 28, 2013, from http://snurb.info/files/Produsage%20(Creativity%20and%20Cognition%202007).pdf
Jurrat, N. (2011, 04). MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA: CITIZEN JOURNALISM AND THE INTERNET . Retrieved 10 28, 2013, from http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/mapping-digital-media-citizen-journalism-and-internet-20110712.pdf
S. Allan and E. Thorson (eds.), Citizen Journalism: global perspectives, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2009
Trend watching . (n.d.). “customer-made”. Retrieved 10 28, 2013, from http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/customer-made.htm