Friday, August 10, 2007

Discovery Channel ain't MY tribe

The mention of 'tribes' by an advertiser produces a Pavlovian response in me. I start to shiver. I get a bit anxious. Because I know what's coming...

Something like this.


Now, I've got nothing against those who wax lyrical about tribes. In fact, I subscribe wholeheartedly to tribe hype: we live in a long tail world where tribes multiply by the day, covering every conceivable niche interest. There are real tribes and virtual tribes - with the latter driving the explosion in tribe numbers.

But how do Discovery choose to represent this paradigm shift in social relations?

With a competition straight out of 1980s Blue Peter.

To win, all you have to do is complete the following sentence in no more than 250 words: 'Being part of my tribe inspires me because...'

Oh, and don't forget to submit a tribe motto and a picture.

Dear God. Did the whole Web 2.0 thing pass these guys by? Or is this their idea of participation, sharing and community in action?

That a competition about tribes can be entered by one individual visiting a single website says it all. This should have been an expansive web adventure, calling on multiple tribe members to amass content and solve ARG-type puzzles spread across tribal hubs like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. It's crying out for collective endeavour; for something that demonstrates the dynamism, spirit and crowd clout that characterise modern tribes.

Poor old Discovery. Their brand should be super-relevant to adventurous, experience hungry Diginatives. But this campaign puts them back in their old media, old world box.

I'm sure that a few worthier-than-thou, silver ring thing obsessives will jump at the chance to tell the world about their tribe in micro essay format. But c'mon, what about the rest of us? Do you seriously think I want to write 250 words about my tribe, when I could be conversing and collaborating with them instead?