Editors around the country have had the perplexing problem of choosing which page of their newspapers to run the Tiger Woods story. Sports? Business? Main news? Lifestyle? The gossip column? All of the above? Tiger—and the sad story surrounding him—is the object of convergence. He is relevant as a sports icon, a celebrity, and a brand endorsement machine. This same trend toward convergence is also seen in as unlikely a persona as Ashton Kutcher. An actor of minimal accomplishments, but with 4,000,000+ Twitter followers, he recently made the cover of Fast Company magazine. The cover story describes his savvy ambitions for digital conquest through a convergence of Hollywood movie production, a traditional ad agency, social media, and consumer product sponsorship. "The program," says the article, "is a collaboration between Katalyst (Kutcher’s production company); Slide, a Web company founded by Max Levchin of PayPal fame; advertising titan Publicis Groupe; and Nestlé, which owns Hot Pockets. It has been a huge hit, with millions of reposts of the videos on Facebook, each one reaching an average of 65 friends." This is viral marketing for Hot Pockets—yes, those crusty, over-processed, handheld, food-like pouches as seen on TV. This is viral marketing supersized by Kutcher’s star power and social media engineering at its best. Tiger’s and Kutcher’s story point to the much larger convergence of the three great centers of power in America: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Madison Avenue. This grand convergence is made tangible in the ever blurring lines of the computer-phone-television-radio. Another version of convergence is taking place in Comcast’s takeover of NBC—the convergence of the means of distribution and the means of content production. You gotta have something to watch on your converged TV-phone-computer-camera-food processor, right? The ultimate implications of convergence for marketers aren’t entirely clear, but some guidelines are emerging: 1) Think cross-platform with all new marketing initiatives. Before you kick off a campaign or launch, think carefully about whether an iPhone app, social media, billboards, or crop circles are your best media. The combinations are endless. 2)Don’t wait too long to sail the seas of convergence. You won’t get a new multi-platform marketing initiative right the first time, especially with all the new emerging technologies. But better to learn by doing on some lower risk efforts, that wait for the perfect timing and knowledge that never come. 3)Creativity rules. Creativity of concept and expression are the only real guarantee of getting traction and differentiation. Gotta go...my Hot Pocket's almost done warming in the microwave.
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