I have been thinking about the 360 degree marketing/communications methodology (if you can call it that) lately. I guess this was sparked by one of my classes, where the students are split into agencies and have to pitch a piece of business. I introduced the brief a couple of weeks ago (and they introduced their agencies to me), and the pitches take place this week (Wednesday). Every one of the agencies identified themselves as 360 degree practitioners.
Honestly, I really don't know what that means. There is a lot of talk of "surrounding" the consumer with brand impressions, for example. To me, that reads "bombardment". Notice the war/battle metaphors here, something I am always aware of. And how can one surround a consumer? People aren't singular spaces or creatures. They are multiple, with multiple identities. How can one surround a rhizome?
Think about your digital identity for one. I have a blog, a Facebook profile, I Twitter, I have an Amazon account and an SNCF account. I comment on other blogs, read and occasionally contribute to Babycenter.com, participate on a variety of wikis, listen to podcasts and troll YouTube.com for funny videos. I have a del.icio.us feed, study online at EGS, maintain a mailing list for my 18 first cousins on Yahoo Groups, have a Gmail account and reader.google.com account. And I could continue on for probably another 10 types of profiles, accounts etc. How can I be surrounded?
The whole mindset of 360 is wrong, and dangerous. Wrong as it is simply logically impossible to accomplish and reeks of buzz. Dangerous because it holds people to a way of thinking that is the antithesis of true conversation and interaction. With a target at the core, there is no way out of that trap.
Total saturation marketing has led us to an ugly world where one is surrounded by ads, bombarded by messages and treated with a total lack of respect for our attention. Now, believe me, I am not anti-marketing, anti-advertising and the like. Rather, I would like to see more organizations embrace a better way of interacting with people, that puts listening and respect for attention at the forefront.
Sigh. Now I feel better having got that off my chest. (And I am sure I am going to hear from people who define 360 differently, who will extol its virtues etc. And they are quite welcome to do so. But I feel better for making my point (rant?) here.)