After looking it over from the iPhone (#1), to Comcast (#100), here's what I've decided: that, as it always does, sex sells -- in this case, because it socializes.
No, Playboy didn't make the list, but when you look at who did, they are almost all brands that, using the broadest sense of the term, are inherently sexy. I speak of brands like Mercedes (#17), the NBA (#5) and Nike (#10). Of KFC (66), BestBuy (#22) and MTV (#4). In short, they are almost all brands that speak to the gratification engine that super-charges our souls, that makes life worth living -- and a BMW (#20) worth purchasing.
So, why do I point this out? Because it makes me wonder what the social possibilities are -- or aren't -- for brands that merely serve instead of gratify. I counted six consumer packaged goods companies on the list, and even them, including outlier Nutella (#42), were what I would define as sexy. (I mean, who, really, can resist a spread made partially out of chocolate?) The CPG list was rounded out by Coca-Cola (#31), Pepsi (#73), Red Bull (#47), Avon (#97) and Skittles (#65). No Tide or Hamburger Helper here.
Vitrue says its Vitrue 100 "is the result of Vitrue's daily analysis of over 2,000 popular brands on the social web." It looks at things like sharing behaviors, blogging and status updates to determine what is really happening.
In short, it looks at the chatter around brands. But, as an aside, it is also, for some brands, a reflection of their participation in the social environment. Is it possible that the appearance of Skittles, Comcast and CNN (#3) are a direct result of how they've injected their brands with social adrenaline? Probably so.
>So let's get back to those boring brands that may not be able to build enough fan pages and Twitter feeds to ever make Vitrue's list. There are a few things that we know at this point about social media:
1. That the Web is becoming a social place, where invitations to become a brand's Facebook fan and Twitter follower are everywhere.
2. That the social Web has vastly increased the fragmentation of media. Many brand messages are increasingly crowded out.
3. That from an ad targeting perspective, the overlay of social data on top of things like demographic and behavioral data has the potential to tilt ad targeting toward the brands and categories that people are already talking about.
In essence, what all this means for boring brands is that, as Vitrue director of marketing Gretchen Miller told me, they are going to have to create passion around their brands. All, I'd add, while being transparent and authentic in a sea of products that are the ones people more naturally want to spend time with. Want a marketing challenge for the 21st century? How to appear sexy when you really aren't.
Editor's note: The agenda for OMMA Social SF, at the Hotel Nikko on Jan. 26, is shaping up. Take a look here.