Terminator 1: Flashmobbers do it with pillows; we do it with great ideas

Maybe it was the Flashmobber who forewarned us about the 150-person pillow fight outside St Paul's Cathedral. Perhaps it was the clearly angry member of the audience who had a verbal pop at the DMC's Justin Kirby about the 'dangers' of digital at a recent 'great' Viral Marketing debate.

Whatever it was, it's a good sign that, while this is increasingly the domain of big brands, there's plenty of room for personal passion.

Going on the figures, it's an exciting time to be involved in digital.

Perhaps not quite as exciting as the twists and turns in the Beckhams' love life, yet, as the latest IAB figures tell us, not only is more money being spent online but more big brands are using digital to improve their business and marketing.

Those who want to talk up the future of the sector, rightly point to the fact that these brands represent sustainable business and funding and, as they reap rewards online, they'll spend more. So far, so good. But, this thinking implies a predictable rise in the medium's size and successes.

Particularly over the last few years, digital has been anything but predictable.

Start-ups may come and go (and, thankfully, come again), but the pre-eminence of dotcom brands such as eBay, Amazon and lastminute.com has come about in a virtual heartbeat in business terms. Innovation has kept pace with technology - when you think about the reality of rich media, video-streaming (see p42) and the creativity seen (even in disciplines like search marketing) online, it is hard to dispute.

The fact that a discipline once considered niche - like viral marketing - can raise tempers, let alone the millions that major brands, from Ford to Toyota, are reputedly spending, is almost astonishing. I say almost.

The relationship between cause and effect is so much clearer in digital than any other form of communication. And these companies are not alone in backing slightly esoteric ideas. Did you know that The Economist has been running Bluejacking campaigns in Asia?

Of course, stability and growth are important and, after a rough few years, most welcome. But, innovation and idea generation are key in a world that changes daily. Even when it takes time to agree. So, if there's a bedding brand that wants to sponsor a SMS-enabled pillow fight outside a London landmark, you know where to come.


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