This Problem Doesn’t Happen Online

Uniroyal TV AdI was watching a little NBA on ESPN last night and hadn't had a chance to store up some buffer on my DVR, so I was forced to watch the commercials (woe is me). Uniroyal Tires had an ad running that I'd noticed before enough to remember the soccer mom running over a board of nails that just happens to be in the parking space she's backing into, presumably to show how the tires aren't phased by nail punctures. (Side note: if my kids ever stand there making stupid faces while I run over a bunch of nails instead of telling me to stop long enough for them to move them, I'll disown them.) Most of the ad promotes some kind of giveaway that I tried to ignore but it ends with this line:
"It could be the best trip you take all summer!"
Which, since I was still recovering from my Thanksgiving excesses, made me laugh out loud. Summer is long gone. Then I noticed this fine print:

Uniroyal TV Ad date

August 31, 2001? Who is paying attention to the ads that run on TV anymore? Online, your customers are, that's who. That's why this wouldn't happen on the web. If you're fostering the right kind of community and engaging your audience the right way, as soon as a problem like this gets out, they'll let you know about it, and you can fix it quickly. Encouraging this participation from your visitors is considered very Web 2.0, but it's really been around as long as email and the Web -- it's all about making it easier for your customers to communicate with you effectively. Reducing communication hurdles isn't always easy, and for a lot of companies it creates new and unexpected challenges (what do we do with all that email?). Remember, though, that every chance to communicate with a customer, regardless of what sparked it, is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with that person and market your company. The negative of this new reality is that some companies take advantage of their active audience by overvaluing speed-to-market and skimping on quality. That, however, is a whole different blog post ... Update: As you can see from the comment below, Jill from Uniroyal contacted me and I gave her the specifics she needed to give the local ad buyer a newer ad to run. No word yet if Uniroyal plans to more actively engage their online audience (or send me a free set of tires as a 'thank you').

Brian is Viget's co-founder and CEO. He does everything from advising our clients to building our conference tables with his bare hands in our Falls Church, VA, HQ.

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