Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet wrote a brilliant piece on brandjacking last week.
Hijacking is a security attack in which the perp takes control of communications. Brandjacking is similar – the attacker assumes control of a brand’s communications (or some other brand assets) and continues communication as though the brand.
To date, common knowledge has assumed that brandjacking is bad and, as marketers, we must protect our brands. Leggio points out in this piece that our brand fans (and brandjackers) might actually be adding value to our brand equity with their fun and games.
Are you watching Mad Men? Are you as enthralled with the characters as I am? Many are, and they get their Mad Men fix tweeting and twittering with the characters. What a brilliant use of social media marketing! But, alas, it was not sanctioned marketing for the vehicle.
The characters were brandjacked – to the great benefit of AMC.
Of course, the issue is CONTROL. Sometimes brandjacking can be positive (as we see here), but it can also be negative and all the while someone else is driving the brand’s direction, visible to customers, without the benefit of knowing the brand’s strategy.
What’s your position? When it comes to online opinions and product reviews, brands are increasingly accepting that we must let customers vent and rave for the raves to have credibility and legitimacy. Further, we believe that negative reviews have value for marketing decision-making. Is brandjacking similar? If we embrace social media (and the concept of brand democratization), must we also accept the sacrifice of control that occurs with brandjacking?
Whose brand is it anyway?