Thanksgiving, Vietnam, Alice’s Restaurant and Social Media Marketing.

One of American singer songwriter Arlo Guthrie’s prominent works was an Vietnam war protest song, which was subsequently made into a movie.

The song called “Alice’s restaurant” took 18 minutes 34 secs and was based on an absurd but true story that had resulted in Guthrie not being accepted into the American military (to burn woman, kids, houses and villages – as he says in the song) because he had a criminal record for littering.

He had gone to throw the garbage out at the city dump and had found that it was closed, as it was Thanksgiving day in 1965. He chose instead to dump it illegally where he had seen a pile of garbage and was arrested for his trouble. See YouTube video of Arlo Guthrie performing the song here.

In the closing part of the song Guthrie advises those called up for the draft, and being processed through the medical to sing out the words “Shrink, you can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.”

By being so you would create a movement.

“You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

And that’s what it is , the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement …”

This song is a clue as to how marketers need to think about branding and introducing new products in the new connected world. Barack Obama used this technique with his rallying cry “yes we can” which got him elected as president. He in fact, probably unknowingly, very closely followed the advice given by Arlo Guthrie many many years ago. He planted a thought, gave the thought relevance and currency and created away for people to share it and then let it lose into the connected world of the internet.

One of the overriding characteristics of the new digitally connected market is that the power in the transaction has moved with the control of information, to the customer. Understanding how to build brands while putting the customer in charge is one of the challenges facing marketers today.

The answer can be found in starting a movement.

“You can get anything you want in Alice’s Restaurant”

Posted on November 27, 2008 at 12:41 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink
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