Oscar responded to the last post saying "The power of online collaboration is how much you can get back by giving up control" — a really good point. The distinction I want to make is between "giving up control" and "sharing control (and responsibility)". Many groups that should seriously consider collaborative approaches are afraid of what might happen to them and their message if things go bad.
These fears must be taken seriously. We’ve seen a couple of examples where collaboration has gone so bad that sponsors probably regret their initiative. Two cases in point:
- the Bush/Cheney "sloganator" in 2004. Here is a wonderful memorial to that very funny campaign.
- the LA Times ‘Wikitorials’ experiment which was quickly shut down.
I’m not sure how Chevy will assess the net results of their marketing effort. I expect that it will be determined by how well and how quickly the anti-SUV community organizes around this opportunity. The potential certainly exists for wide distribution of many off-message ads. (This gets back to my suggestion that a good directory to the funniest ads is needed quickly. In the mean time, check out Sustainablog, Climate Change Action, and Grist for some examples.)
In all these cases, the problem wasn’t the idea of collaborating online, but that necessary elements of how to share responsibility and control were poorly thought out or implemented.