Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Boycott Viacom, Save YouTube

The Battle of YouTube
Winter 2007

On a crisp Winter morning in 2007, the air carrying a metallic hint of silicon, the most significant battle in the War of Media began. On one side stood the stoic and stubborn Old Media. Armed with their front row of lawyers, mounted copyrights and broadcasting lobbies. On the other side stood the band of rebels, New Media, with their unorganized but passionate mob. They were armed with nothing more than sheer numbers and momentum. Their contingent of lawyers strong but ill-equipped.

As the sun rose higher, revealing to all the dark day ahead, the combatants charged. Viacom hit the enemy lines first, thrusting a lawsuit at YouTube for $1 billion. The assault reverberated throughout the New Media ranks and even those in the back felt it's sharp sting. Wave after wave of lawsuits on lawyers charged. Survivor accounts say it was a tidal wave too fast to run from and so large that hope itself was inadequate to cling to.

Yes, the battle was brutal and though New Media outnumbered Old, it looked like all would be lost. Until...

A band of consumers breached the horizon. These consumers were a pissed off bunch. They had found New Media to be good to them. Old Media were friends as well but at times, was downright rude to New Media. Consumers, like all of us, don't want to choose between friends. The sight of New Media bloody and near defeat while knowing that Old Media picked this fight was enough for the Consumers. They charged towards the offenders.

The Consumers' tactic, it should be noted, is a simple one. They cut off supply lines. In the first attack, they boycotted all the advertisers running lifelines to Viacom. Of course, the first Consumers were not very effective and the next few dozen hardly made a dent. But gradually, as more and more Consumers got in the mix, Old Media began to pay attention.

You see, Viacom is powerless without a fresh supply of resources from advertisers. Advertising fuels their army, fuels their lawyers and their thirst for power. Cut off the advertising and you suddenly get their attention.

It starts with one crazy fool that throws himself head first down the hill, armed with nothing more than stupidity. What Viacom is doing is pig-headed and so as Consumers, we should boycott their advertisers. Not every advertiser, that'd be too tough. But if we ignore enough of the big ones, they'll pay attention. If Pepsi advertises on Viacom, then buy Coke. If they both do, drink tap. If Target runs an ad on Viacom, shop at Walmart. If both, buy online.

New Media is the industry to back. It embodies the spirit of our country by democratizing choice and control. It distributes wealth to those that are brave enough to explore new lands (including those converts from Old Media such as NBC.com). Old Media needs to learn to adapt, not employ book burning tactics to suffocate change. We need to send them a message and we need to hit them where it hurts.

MTV and Comedy Central are the flagship properties of Viacom. Visit the sites, take note of their advertisers. Don't buy those products. Save YouTube.

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