Their website posts the following message: "It's about real engagements. Together we have the power to push brands to fully interact with us. Soon the lines of our virtual networks will blur with reality, and a new world will be born. A new generation of media consumers has arisen demanding content the way we want it, when we want it and how we want it. As a unified voice, we will be heard. Join the undertaking and change the world." Their Twitter description also features a call to action: “No longer will media tell us what 2 consume or how 2 consume it! The Internet gave birth to the possibility of real mass unity!” We spoke with billyb to find out more.
BC: What got you started?
BB: We’ve worked in creative branding for many years and got tired of the media intrusion, message after message, thousands a day – we felt it was time to draw a line against that intrusion of media in our daily lives. That was about three years ago.
BC: And since then?
BB: We’ve been low key, flying under the radar, gathering connections with people, lining up the right tech partners, getting the back-end set – natural language, algorithms that give true consumer insight. We’ll launch in 4Q 2010. It took years in development and we’re now months from launch.
BC: What’s your definition of consumer-driven marketing - both pro and con?
BB: It’s a trend that hit a boom at ad agencies a few years ago. Done correctly media can have an unscripted feel. But too planned, over-executed, it fails. It misses the real conversation and becomes rants and vents.
BC: All we’ve seen so far is your viral videos on YouTube. Strategically - are they intended as serious or satirical?
BB: Both. But it’s not really strategic. We’ve done about 80 videos – not released yet – of people venting – vent sessions.
BC: What is your major beef with social media?
BB: The social media industry was created out of a need, but faux social strategists have created social fatigue for the people. I love Burt’s Bees – but I don’t want to be friends with it. It’s become brand invasion by irresponsible social media strategists who have used social gathering sites for consumer perspectives. Brands have a place – but social networking and online lives have blurred. 85% of professional bloggers – like ‘mommy bloggers’ are paid. It’s a cheap shot at conversation – not real.
BC: What are your objectives?
BB: To build a platform for like-minded people. We’d like to have 250,000-500,000 troops, members, in year one. We’ll redefine movies, albums, CDs, and brands will be voted in by the group. Our core competencies are music, video games and movies. We don’t have media backgrounds – but great media partners. Our backgrounds are in brand development, graphic design, strategic branding… and consuming!
BC: Will you target specific brands, and or social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter?
BB: No – our fight is not with those sites – it’s with the industry that’s let users down. The troops want to take on the ‘bubble gum’ sites.
BC: Are you a website, an anti-social media platform, a movement, an alternative agency model or other?
BB: We’re a movement – not anti, just better.
BC: Are you inclusive re: age or primarily millennial/Gen Y?
BB: Our key demo is 14-27... Anywhere you go, city street or country corner – it’s that age group who have their finger on cool. They know the hip factor, what’s hot, relevant, trendy. They are the influential group leaders in social engagement.
BC: How would you like to change the conversation (between brands and consumers)?
BB: There is no real conversation to change. Marketing people are talking to their strategists and their clients through focus groups and questionnaires. We want real, natural talk, and guerilla brand practices from the get-go that ‘move the masses.’ Artists will pitch, troops will vote, unscripted, unfiltered feedback captured, rejected brands will be asked to leave – but with insight.
Brands and social engagement, the real world and online world are one in the same conversation.
BC: How are your tactics different from the manipulation of entrenched consumer marketing — other than being viral, 'guerilla' and hip?
BB: Tactics out. We’re the first brand to organize with troops – taking it to the next level or holding it back. It’s already in the air – we’re just going to take it and run with it.
BC: What's your business model?
BB: No ads. Just telling the truth to people.
BC: Any brands/platforms out there now that you admire?
BB: ‘My Starbucks Rewards Program’ – brilliant. Feedback and conversation, launch and execution – brilliant.
BC: Any mentors/heroes?
BB: Marty Neumeier’s “The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design.”
Lee Clow, former chief creative officer TBWA/Media Arts Lab. His Apple campaigns like the "1984" commercial that introduced Mac, and Apple’s "Think Different" campaign, and the "Mac vs. PC" commercials – all brilliant. There was a freedom of creativity from that 1984-1987 period.
Paul Rand’s logo designs for IBM, UPS, Westinghouse, ABC, Steve Jobs’ NeXT – they all pushed the envelope.
BC: Are you VC-financed?
BB: No. Funding it ourselves. Money gets in the way and we won’t let the troops down. But we are looking for the right VC partner.
BC: How do you position your brand?
BB: Awareness. A consumer-driven entity, no jargon, about the world and consumers' passion. We’ve been working with developing trends for three years. We’re ready to revolutionize social engagement forever. We want to show strategists a brand entity that is organic, natural, and passionate. Passion is contagious.
It’s about consumable products, world issues, and 17 million people demanding something be done. That’s power. Gorilla Underground is a social engagement collective voice.
BC: And how can ‘the troops’ best find you?
BB: If you find us – then you’ve found us.
Sheila Shayon is a senior media executive with 25+ years in television and new media including expertise in programming, production, broadband, start-up models, creative and branding strategies, digital content and social networking.
Shayon has worked for HBO, Time Warner Cable and Wisdom Television. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication.
Currently, as President/Founder of Third Eye Media, a New York-based multimedia production company, Shayon works with online brands to combine editorial content and social networking applications.
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