The term Open Source Marketing has its origin in the Open Source Movement. Many modern marketers see Open Source Marketing as a tool to being able to adapt to changes in marketing. The basis of Open Source Marketing is the free exchange of information and communication with the customer. This thesis describes in depth the origins of this new kind of marketing. It attempts to establish a workable definition and exemplifies the most important instruments and principles. To illustrate opportunities and risks of Open Source Marketing different examples are analyzed. The car launch campaign ‘Project FOX’ of German Volkswagen plays a central role.
CHAPTER 1: Introduction
“… Up until now, marketing has been about commanding media, bombarding customers and controlling messages coming out of marketing campaigns. But consumers have learnt how to protect themselves from traditional marketing, or even circumvent marketing messages by creating their own content to entertain and inform their peers … Open source principles in marketing activities are promising since customers who can influence or contribute to the marketing of a product will certainly speak more about the product than customers that are overwhelmed by ready-made messages. Actively integrating customers strengthens identification with marketing strategies and encourages word-of-mouth communication …”
CHAPTER 3: Open Source Marketing
3.4. Defining Open Source Marketing
“A condensed definition of Open Source Marketing … : Open Source Marketing is the ‘open‘ process of planning and executing the conception of price, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals. Its basis is the free exchange of information between the company and its customers. In this connection a license shall not restrict any party from freely distributing marketing related materials of the company or brand. The license can also allow modifications and derived work, and can allow them to be distributed. However, the originator must always be credited.”
CHAPTER 5: Opportunities and risks of Open Source Marketing
5.1.3. Adaptability and innovative ability
“… For companies this does not mean giving up copyright, but offering some rights to members of the public under certain conditions. Marketing can adapt anytime to current consumer needs and attitudes. In open source projects people build from already developed and freely shared material and products. Thus, initiating sharing facilitates innovation. In a marketing environment this also means the possibility of developing a competitive advantage and a stable foundation for differentiation. …”
5.2.1. Lack of control
“Lack of control is the most obvious risk for Open Source Marketing and other related forms of marketing, whose core lays in voluntarily giving up control, putting it in the hands of the consumers. By doing so, marketers hope to build authenticity and credibility, as described before. But this intended lack of control also has its shady side. Open Source Marketing campaigns are created in a way that anybody, including the competition can use, change and in the worst case abuse the marketing material. So if a brand has an ambiguous or controversial image, giving up control holds high risk. …”
CHAPTER 6: Critical appraisal and conclusion
“… The term Open Source Marketing can only be used if appropriate licenses are applied. Many of the examples in this paper, including the main case study Project FOX, turned out not to be real Open Source Marketing projects, although they carried the name. This underlines the assumption that many people do not properly understand the term open source. A company that opens up and transfers some of the control to consumers by letting them actively co-create messages or products does not necessarily deserve the term Open Source Marketing. Few companies apply the necessary degree of openness. Most do not dare take the step of sharing intellectual property rights or copyrights. …
… Open Source Marketing contains, without doubt, huge potential. Consumer co-creation expatiates communication between consumers and companies. Companies that have special expertise and are forerunners in their field already can strengthen their position by applying open source licenses to their marketing materials.
Today’s marketing environment is highly competitive and preventing companies from adapting and altering each other’s ideas is near impossible. Open source licenses offer companies legal alternatives when sharing ideas. Reputation and recognition would even increase for companies that develop groundbreaking concepts and marketing campaigns since they will always be credited with a clear chain of attribution.
However, open source thoughts must become embedded in marketing culture for Open Source Marketing to be successful in today’s marketing environment. …”
Copyright Dorit Weber © 2006
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