The Internet is not the bad guy here

A recent arti­cle in MIT’s Technology Review looks at how some mar­keters and film­mak­ers are trans­form­ing their small oper­a­tions into brand hijack­ers — a William Gibson term come to life if I ever heard one.

Brand hijack­ers make videos that spoof or par­ody brands and then demand money from the brands for the unso­licited adver­tise­ment. Some more eager hijack­ers will threaten to release and pro­mote dam­ag­ing videos if the com­pany refuses to pay.

That’s a gen­er­al­iza­tion, of course. Read the MIT story for a fuller descrip­tion of the hijackers.

The impe­tus for this post comes from the last line in the arti­cle. A mar­ket­ing exec with Dannon yogurt said he refused to pay a film­maker for his unso­licited video. He told the Technology Review:

“The real vil­lain in this story is the Internet because you don’t have con­trol anymore.”

Considering that the over­rid­ing theme of media over the past 20 years has been the fact that the Internet and hyper­text empower the reader and media con­sumer, I don’t see how it’s pos­si­ble that some­one who works in the busi­ness could utter some­thing like this in 2010.

Put another way, a per­son who goes into the busi­ness of mar­ket­ing online these days should know bet­ter than to be able to con­trol anything.The best you can hope for is to do a good job. That’s right, kids. Do a good job from the ground up. Don’t give them any ammo to use against you.

Oh, and when you do, inevitably, give them ammo to use against you: Be trans­par­ent about your mis­takes and the attacks that ene­mies and brand hijack­ers levy against you. Don’t try to hide behind some imag­ined veneer of con­trol and do silly old-fashioned, top-down things, like send­ing out C&D let­ters and DMCA notices. Working with the flow of media will be much eas­ier and more prof­itable than try­ing to fight the current.

The Internet as a vil­lain. Give me a break.