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Chevy Tahoe: Think like a Rock

Well the Ads are down! The spin seems to be falling off. Let's really get the lessons!

1. Chevy and the Ad spinners are full of crap. The Tahoe campaign was totally jammed by the anti-suv crowd. This was a huge success by a loose group of networked anti-suv crowd taking out a multi-million dollar brand and advertising campaign. They moved millions of anti-suv messages on Chevy's dime.

2. I predict Tahoe sales will go down. Hey... lots of the ads complained about oil and gas guzzling. $3 gas will really put the hurt on the SUV sales. Boneheads.

3. Most (almost all) of the videos on YouTube are negative. The youth crowd is not passing around "good" for the brand type ads. Until Chevy and the Ad folks release data. I stand on the idea that most of the ads passed onward to friends were negative. Lots of folks might have put in a kiss ass ad to try to win a $44,000 car (they could sell it and buy a hybrid). However, few folks seem proud to be tool for some ad company. The ads that people passed around were funny or resistance to the general intent. I bet the ads that connected ads to deployed friends and families, dead and wounded soldiers, war in the middle east, our addiction to oil, the tahoeiban, destruction of the planet, etc. The viral effort the was more powerful than the Chevy Tahoe talk.

4. Most the news coverage of the Tahoe in the last month at least mentioned the gas guzzling stupid design that people pointed out in the ads including coverage in New York Times, all the online outlets, Nightline, NPR and the rest.

5. I don't think FOX covered the story so it must have been good for humanity.

Link: [video] Chevy Tahoe's online ad contest | CNET

Chevrolet's contest to get consumers to create ad content for its Tahoe SUV has attracted a lot of satire ads. The rules say any attempt to "undermine the legitimate operation of the contest may be a violation of criminal and civil laws." Here are some Tahoe clips from the contest you won't see on TV.

Prayer Network: God's Children Get Distributed Work

Have a need? Wish youwere a little closer to the diety of choice? Don't worry the distributed network of helpers and good prayers want to pitch in and help out. The Prayer Network collects and distributes efforts to lift needs and connect the prayers and sinners in new ways. I also consider this a strong recommendation to file request to save your soul to a few of my regular readers. (you know who you are).

It would be great to have and API with PostSecret.

Good stuff.

Link: Prayer Network.

The ELCA prayer network is an intercessory prayer network of congregations and prayer groups (ELCA and others) across the United States and the Caribbean who have agreed to pray for those prayer requests collected on the ELCA Prayer web site:

How does it work?
The ELCA web site is designed to collect prayer requests online. Once a prayer request is made, the online manager responds directly and/or e-mails the prayer requests to the contact persons of some of the Prayer Network congregations. (Due to the large volume of prayer requests, not all congregations are contacted with every request, but every prayer request receives prayer.)

Kudos to Joe Baker for passing this along.

Networks on TV..Yeah I can do that too!

danah Rocks! Nice clip on the math cop from numb3rs jibbering about using network analysis to identify leaders. They make it look so easy on TV. This is what our progressive leaders want not only to find the leaders but to strategically build the lines that connect folks to each other so they can build ad hoc teams to move policy, social groups and behavior.

On March 3, the CBS TV show Numb3rs used Vizster in a thought sequence about how social networks can be used to solve crimes. Vizster is the prefuse-driven network visualization tool

Google Video News: Iraq Distributed TV

Some thoughts are slowly coming together on the power of distributed creation of content.

A few months ago, I suggested folks watch Epic 2015. It is an amazing look into the future . The movie presents the power of user generated content and the way technology and connectivity will change the media space forever.

While working on the Chevy Tahoe Ads, I came to understand the power of distributed content creation. The barriers to entry into being creative online were lowered to such a minimum threshold that anyone could participate.

The Chevy Ads campaign was to online content creation as Howard Dean was to online fundraising. Before Dean, we knew people donated online but are millions interested? The same dynamic just played out with Chevy Ads. (Sorryeverybody,, May's Field, Virtual Protest, Bushin30seconds) YouTube and Google video are taking this discussion and persuasion to a new level.

Our challenge to "see" the path where a connected culture begins to tell its own stories to each other without the middle man of media, organizaitons or political leaders. As advocacy groups, we need to create these pathways. Blogs have done that for those of us that like be wordy (yeah I am guilty) but for a huge segment of the population new tools open the use of video and voice to help them be more creative, honest and/or expressive with photos, video and voice.

Video from War Zone...

The tale from Iraq is starting to move from people to people. Across the network ties and tools of our time. Check out these links...

Sniper Fight in a Village - Can hear the Bullets Hitting the Tank

Private Contractor on a Job? Shooting at traffic and Anyone that comes close (very unsettling)

Cleaning out an ambush from a C130 gunship (killing Iraq's at a Distance)

Listen to the tale...Sending soldiers in to do police work. They flip a grenade into a room of a guy in a domestic abuse case. The guy sends the grenade out a window onto a family eating dinner

What are you doing to open up the story telling ability of our grassroots? Look at what the ways the connect public are organizing without you. Hope - Put an End to Gang Violence slideshow, video and mix pulled together on Youtube. Or cyber-banging .

People are organizing on the web with little or no money. On myspace or the hundreds of other sites the connected culture are offering tools that are more powerful than sites that cost tens of thousands of dollars just a few years ago.

Organizing is no longer merely about "being the voice" of the membership. New tools and new connectivity make the new challenge to empower the voices of the grassroots. Synchronize their voices and aggregate voices to inspire and inform each other. We need netcentric approaches to our campaigns and to find new ways to scale these emerging trends to power the next generation of social movements and social leadership.

Feeding Yourself: Dynmics of Business vs. Social Change


I am in a meeting today and we were talking about campaigns and business models. business cycles and campaigns for change. The woman across from me was fantastic battle hardened change maker. She raised a great challenge.

1. the bottom line of business is to make money.
2. as businesses spend money (if they do it well) they get more money.
3. money can be reinvested to accelerate growth and scaling to provide service.

The social change movement is different.

1. the bottom line is to create change.
2. as groups and movements spend social/political capital they create change.
3. at the end of campaign (win or lose) they are depleted (people are tired, donors are tired, staff need to see families. Success often just leads to agitation for more change in more states. But the energy (political and social capital) is gone.
4. Success (she says) often creates the next failure instead of fueling more success.

How does the distributed engagement and network-centric approach to advocacy break that cycle?

MobileActive: Curfew in Kathmandu, phone services snapped

Link via Howard which highlights the new reach of government crackdowns "No SMS during Revolution".

Link: Curfew in Kathmandu, phone services snapped .:. NewKerala - India's Top Online Newspaper.

Nepal King Gyanendra's government Saturday imposed day curfew in the Kathmandu valley and shut down mobile phone services again to thwart an agitation by the opposition, even as Maoists began fresh attacks in two southwestern districts.

I have seen governments shutting down media and public gatherings but this is the first crack down on the MobileActive organizing tool.

G/localization: What are the lessons for Advocacy Planners? Network-Centric Design Issues

danah boyd kicks off a discussion of "Glocalization", as usual she raises some really interesting food for thought for those of us playing with networks as mechanisms for social change. danah usually targets the "tool builders" but her insights on culture are very relevant for advocacy strategy folks thinking about ways to engage in the new age of connectivity.

As mass organizers, we think about strategies for connecting people and organizing networks of people. We need to participate and embed in that network and much like the tool building leaders we need to head danah's advise.

In our campaigns we should: (my re-riff of danah's conclusion)

1) Empower users. Give them the ability to personalize and culturalize messages of social change and organizing. Help people move social change messages into contexts in which their expression can carry organizing message with subculture norms. (Think creative commons all content and allowing messages to be easily edited, formatted, mashed together and posted in lots of formats. )

2) Foster campaigns that recognize messages move across many environments and cultures help users properly "see" and connect with each other in many situations and contexts.

3) Empower individual users to be cultural spokes people. Give them the ability to modify the campaigns and messages for their communities and cultural needs. Again, this means openness of all the campaign engagement techniques and providing richer platforms to develop on top of. (think chevy ads )

Please read her article and consider it as a advocacy strategy call:
Link: "G/localization: When Global Information and Local Interaction Collide".

Glocalization is the ugliness that ensues when the global and local are shoved uncomfortably into the same concept. It doesn't sit well on your palette, it doesn't have a nice euphoric ring. It implies all sorts of linguistic and cognitive discomfort. This is the state of the global and local in digital communities. We have all sorts of local cultures connected through a global network, resulting in all sorts of ugly tensions. Designers who work with networks must face these tensions and design to take advantage of the global while not destroying the local. This is a hefty challenge and one that i want us to dive into.

12,000 ads and links to Chevy Ads: Google

So.. I was a bit interested in how "big" the Chevy Tahoe (Tahoe-ilban) ads were going and how viral the thing was getting. I am also interested in the "SPIN" Chevy

Google reports 12,000 links to user generated ads. A quick review of the top 500 (set your Google preferences to 100 per page) shows that most of those ads are not moving Chevy image but have been co-opted to serve other campaigns.

Google Link Search (

The Chevy ads tool closed the gap of power between PR firms and mass marketing teams (good video editing, sound tracks, etc.) and the public. This viral reaction to the Chevy ads did not only work because SUV's are bad. It worked because people that make their own funny ad can blast them out to larger and larger audiences. The nobodies on the street can whack at the public relations geniuses (like the Bushin30Seconds) with not only great creativity but now with great reach to audiences and powerful video and multi-media hosting (YouTube, Google video). It was simple for loose creatives that had the same idea on the ChevyAds to swarm and connect. It was easy to aggregate the ads into a bigger and high impact collection. Culture jamming is not new.

However, seeing a loose network quickly connect, (via the blogs, Im, email, media and skype) sequence (specialize and create ads, create many web sites, wikis and tools for working on the campaign) synchronize (20,000+ people to create ads and millions to view) and then distribute the ads via web and other media was an impressive display of the growing potential for a connected culture to act.

To those int he online strategy world this should be to content and pushing power to the edges what last years disasters were to online fundraising.

The power of the network...

What will you tell your kids you drove?


NPR : Chevy's Make-Your-Own SUV Ads Go Off Message: Understatement...

NPR and the fine art of media understatement. ....

Link: NPR : Chevy's Make-Your-Own SUV Ads Go Off Message.

April 3, 2006 ? Chevrolet has run into problems with its innovative Internet ad campaign for the Chevy Tahoe, which gives site visitors wide latitude in creating their own Tahoe ads. But the campaign, tied in with a contest for The Apprentice TV show, has created a somewhat of a backlash.

Nightline : Oh my gosh they are culture jamming our Chevy!

Last night around 6:30 Eric called to tell me that our ads were going to be on Nightline. He said they had called him and were requesting an interview. He wanted to know if I would come. It was fun.

We were hoping for a debate with PR folks or Chevy but they had plugged the SUV resistance into "Sign of the Times".

It was the first time either of us had been in ABC or a big TV headquarters. Eric and I had some great point to talk about SUV's, bad oil policy and the voice of the people in the ads.

When we got up to the floor the folks were really nice (it must come from working in such tight quarters.These folks (3 people plus a ton of equipment were stuffed into a windowless 8 by 10 office) OSHA should check that thing out. They wired up Eric and ran a 20 min interview over the phone.

Here is the clip.

The interview was OK and a bit fun. However, Eric and I died laughing when we walked down to leave and saw the ABC fleet parked under the building.


Yep. 14 Chevys. LOL.

Keep making those ads for fun. We will record them as political speech and turn them into a video of the good ones posted in the comments section.

weee.weee. Advertisers working to "spin" Chevy Tahoe Ad Disaster

From the NY Times, April 4, 2006..Chevy Tries a Write-Your-Own Ad Approach, With Predictable Results (my comments added)

In theory, the company was hoping that visitors to its Web site would e-mail their own videos around the Web, generating interest for the Tahoe through what is known as viral marketing. By the measure of Chevrolet Tahoe videos circulating the blogosphere and the video-hosting Web sites like YouTube, that goal was achieved.

But the videos that were circulated most widely like the commercial that attacked the S.U.V. for its gas mileage, may not be what Chevrolet had in mind. (understatement)

A spokeswoman for Chevrolet, Melisa Tezanos, said the company did not plan to shut down the anti-S.U.V. ads. "We anticipated that there would be critical submissions," Ms. Tezanos said. "You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it's part of playing in this space." ( have to love having your SUV associated with dead soldiers, terror, domestic spying, global warming, strong mixed sexual content, failure to be a good dad and stupid design.)

The campaign was created by Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., part of the Interpublic Group of Companies....(Soon to be out of business with GM)

John Butler, creative director for Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, the agency in Sausalito, Calif., that created the Converse campaign, said user-generated content worked only if it fitted the product.(BINGO!)

Other companies that have experimented with user-generated content have had less tolerance for mockery.

"We think there are some voices inside G.M. that understand social media very well and knew this would happen," the post said. Mr. Neisser of Renegade said Chevrolet could have anticipated the way the Web site was manipulated. "Were they really expecting the consumer to make nice and create very pleasant movies?" he asked. "If they were, they haven't looked at anything on YouTube."

Oh. it is painful to watch. spin .spin, spin. (Remember submit your best ads in the comments.) So you really think they are not going to take it down?

Daily Kos: Chevy Ad.

Chevy... SUV's Getting Roasted...(Head in the Sand)

Step 1. Review the ads (some funny, some political).

Step 2. Make your Own (link is to the right bottom of any ad.)

Step 3. Post the link to the Ad in the comments. (from address bar)so we can save this.)

Step 4. Pick the date Chevy folds and takes down the site. (I give them 2 weeks)

My favorites:
Funny Chevy Ad - Oil

Chevy Ad - Tribute to brother in Iraq

Funny Chevy Ad - Who is that

Funny Chevy Ad - Little Piggy

Funny Chevy Ad - Hippy

Funny Chevy Ad - Impeach

Funny Chevy Ad - What?

Funny Chevy Ad - Yo.

Funny Chevy Ad - Hot hot

Link: Daily Kos: State of the Nation.

Check Out This Fake Ad Before Chevy Takes it Off

Work on Global Foreign Policy and International Issues? : Come be a paid Fellow! Help Network a Movement.

This is a link to day job stuff. However, if you are one of the 36 people that read the blog and you work on US policy issues in the nonprofit world you should know about the following paid "fellow" opportunity.

Link: Work with us | Netcentric Campaigns.

Netcentric Campaigns seeks a Connect US Fellow to assist in the research, development and application of cutting edge social networking theory and communication technology to foreign policy advocacy. The Fellow will work directly with Netcentric Campaigns to assist in the research, design and implementation of pilot projects designed to support and strengthen the advocacy efforts of organizations working to promote responsible U.S. global engagement. The fellowship will provide the selected individual the opportunity to learn and apply new network-centric communication technology and advocacy strategies. We hope that the fellow will return to the non-profit advocacy field to disseminate these concepts within their organizations and professional networks at the conclusion of this time-limited fellowship. This position also provides advocates with an opportunity to expand their familiarity with the foreign policy field and professional and social networks. Any applicant who meets the qualifications will be considered; however candidates from the Connect US community who plan to participate in the advocacy community at the conclusion of the fellowship will be given preference.