Between the Lines: Behold the power of the net

The leaking of the Ricky Gervais Microsoft videos on to the internet (page 4) is a timely reminder that much as they might like to, companies can no longer control the information that gets out about them.

Even in 2003, when the videos were made, it must have seemed a simple enough thing to promise that they would never be seen outside the walls of the company. Today, the ease with which video content can be uploaded on to the internet - and the speed with which it spreads once it's up there - means that corporate secrets of almost any kind are unlikely to stay that way.

This time, the result for Microsoft has so far been positive - so positive, in fact, that it couldn't have hoped for better if it had planned the whole thing.

But there's still a lesson in all this for advertisers and agencies: don't ignore the power that people now have to share content with each other. While you might wish to control what consumers hear and see about your brand, the fact is you can't.

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