Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Drooling Greyhounds

I heard about The Point yesterday on NPR, and, as I was messing around on there today and thinking about the ways it might connect to the brand comparison startup project, I stumbled into a silly little metaphor that I think might lead to a silly little name idea or two.

The Point is a tool people can use to coordinate group action. Users plan collective actions, set support milestones, recruit participants, and then, as a group, follow through on the plans. One of the common formulas is: if A people agree to do B, then C will do D. Another is: E must do F or else G people will do H.

People can make ultimatums, raise money, organize boycotts, do lots of fun stuff. The site tells us to "use The Point to arrange a tea party, or bring a multinational corporation to its knees." Funny funny.

Anyway, I was cruising through, seeing what people were demanding of brand name companies, and I noticed that, in addition to starting campaigns to get something done or changed, members of The Point community can also submit "problems." The site advertises...

Have a problem, but can't think of a campaign that will solve it? The Problems area is a place to brainstorm with others when the target, tipping point, and/or action are unclear.

So I figured I'd post a problem and see what reactions or ideas The Point's community might offer.

I wrote, as I often write, about the fact that we don't dangle big enough carrots in front of companies to urge them to do the right thing.

I wanted to end my rave with a sentence or two about creating a race to the top, and I wanted to communicate consumers' role in that race. We need to set companies off on that race? Get them to join it? Urge them along? Drag them kicking and screaming toward the race's finish line? Something. Something to show that consumers have to actively participate in making the race happen.

I thought of greyhounds and the mechanical rabbit they chase around the racetrack.*

Consumers need to be that rabbit. Companies already drool over our deliciousness. They'll wander, hypnotized, wherever we lead them. If we position ourselves a few steps ahead of them and take off full speed, we can pull the whole racing pack of companies in whatever directions we see fit.

I like it, and I wonder if we can get a website name out if it. This little episode only happened within the last couple of hours, so I certainly haven't come up with anything brilliant, but, for those of you that are superstitious on the first of every month, tibbartibbar.com is available.

*Note: I actually have no idea if this is a real thing or not. I think I saw it in a Bugs Bunny cartoon when I was little.