“In the debate, a spokesman accused the government of being silly and doing not at all good things. The member accepted this in the spirit of healthy criticism, but denied that he had ever been naughty with a choir boy. Angry shouts of ‘What about the watermelon then’ were ordered then by the speaker to be stricken from the record and put into a brown paper bag in the lavvy. Any further interruptions would be cut up and distributed amongst the poor. For the Government, a front-bench spokesman said the agricultural tariff WOULD have to be raised. And he fancied a bit. Whats more he argued, this would give a large boost to farmers, him, his friends, and Miss Moist of Knightsbridge. From the back benches there were opposition shouts of ‘Postcards for sale’ and a healthy cry of ‘Who likes a sailor then’ from the minister without portfolio. Replying, the Shadow Minister said he could no longer deny the rumors, but he and the dachshund were very happy. And in any case he argued rhubarb was cheap, and what was the harm in a sauna bath?”
Does anybody else (particularly amongst us Americans) enjoy watching Prime Minister’s Questions on C-SPAN? It reminds me of a particularly good blog post comment thread. It also reminds me of the kind of in-your-face transparency that you simply don’t see in American politics. The kind of transparency that fesses up and says, just like John Cleese and the rest of the Monty Python troupe did yesterday, “Look, you know and I know that no matter how hard we try, people are bloody well going to nick our stuff no matter how hard we try, so why don’t we try to beat them at their own game?”
Well, actually, what they said was:
For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It’s time for us to take matters into our own hands.
We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we’ve figured a better way to get our own back: We’ve launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.
No more of those crap quality videos you’ve been posting. We’re giving you the real thing – HQ videos delivered straight from our vault.
Instead of copy protecting their content and closing it off to the world (a la the music industry), they’ve given up and are using the content (which, mind you, being sketchy, er, sorry, sketches, is especially suited for YouTube).
Now, you might be wondering at this point, if you haven’t already been distracted by the video or the squirrel outside your window THERE HE IS!, whether I’m going to get to the point and cleverly tie this back to the theme of my blog. Never fear, persistent reader. There is a point to the ramblings.
This is yet another reminder that the command-and-control model of communications is dead. It’s as impossible to try and control your brand as it is to control the redistribution of music and videos in today’s world. All you’ll end up doing is failing miserably, and ultimately losing touch with the people that matter the most–your customers.
The idea of the corporate institution as the infallible, papal-like entity that can do no wrong is slowly fading, not just in light of today’s economic woes, but also in light of the incredible successes companies have had when they admit that they’re wrong and try to do something different–something McNeil Consumer Products did well during both the Tylenol and the Motrin incidents (not to say I’m letting them off scot-free).
But how do you do this, and still survive as an entity? Rethink your business model, just like Monty Python did:
But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. [Comments are enabled, mind you, and already up to typical YouTube standards if you know what I mean. - Todd] Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.
Will this strategy work? It has certainly gotten them back in the online dialog. I’d love to see whether it’s netting sales. The jury came back with an ultimately positive verdict when Radiohead released their “In Rainbows” album online in a “name your price” model:
New numbers revealed by the band’s publisher … show that even after giving away In Rainbows as a pricing-optional download starting on October 10, 2007, the band still sold more CDs of the album than it did of either of its previous two albums.
It works folks. Let go.