Earthlink sez you decide – about them?

EarthLink You Decide 5 6 2005 12 01 57 PM.jpg

Earthlink is running a promotion now where you the customer (or prospective customer) can decide which of their employees deserves a $1,000 bonus. Of course, the two employees represent key benefits of Earthlink that they are trying to highlight – virus-fighting and spam-blocking.

The site [no longer active] offers you the chance to look at their desks and see how hard they are working, etc. It’s a weird sort of sales effort, perhaps bringing in the American Idol-esque participation all the while promoting these benefits of their service.

It seems that the more innovative companies are focusing their story around co-creation (an emerging buzzword) – where the customers are involved in stuff about the company, but in stuff that is relevant to them (i.e., what type of products or services are offered) – contrast this promotion with the recent AOL ads in which customers appeared at HQ to demand services they wanted. Earthlink is taking a step way back here, asking us to get involved with and care about the workaday lives of their employees, and their compensation? I don’t want a job at Earthlink and I don’t want to have to think about it. I want Earthlink to think about me and what I want and need. They’re getting at that here, but in a completely roundabout way that seems out of step with the times.

Of course, for every trend there is a counter-trend. The counter-trend that Earthlink is latching onto is participation. Going to Costco lets you feel a bit like a stockboy, open kitchens in restaurants involve you in the cooking process, etc. But in those cases, the participation supports a value (low warehouse-direct prices, freshness and quality), not simply participation for its own sake.


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