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Taking Cues from YouTube

Viral video and social networking sites — often the bane of major brands — now offer corporations a blueprint of how best to interact with consumers. Brian Morrissey at Adweek today reported that Coca-cola has redesigned its corporate sites, both Coke.com and CocaCola.com, “as brand destinations designed to showcase consumer creativity.” Visitors can submit 45-second video spots that will be rated by other visitors. Yet the videos relate to special challenges like “The Essence Of You” and “XYZ Sports,” and therefore aren’t directly related to the brand. But as Morrissey suggests in his article, it appears as if the soft-drink company has taken a page right out of YouTube’s book.

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Sounds interesting enough, and might even prove itself a “sticky” maneuver for Coca-Cola. In fact, it calls to mind Fortune Senior Editor David Kirkpatrick’s article from last month: “All Web sites are alike,” where he says “The Web is one big level playing field of competition for the customer’s time and attention. The quality and relevance of the content will be what drives viewers to devote that attention – not whether the host happens to be Coke.com, NYT.com or Disney.com.”

If all web sites can do the same thing, then where do we draw the line on what’s media and what isn’t media? And if new media is truly governed by who controls content, then will corporations one day find traditional media less useful?

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