Asymmetrical warfare and the democratization of communication
Domino’s Pizza is learning a brutal lesson in the dangers of the democratization of media. Two knuckleheads can turn a video camera into a weapon of mass destruction. Shareholder value, consumer confidence and brand equity have been gravely wounded by what will ultimately turn out to be a suicide bomb (it seems probable that the people who made the video will face significant criminal and civil judgments). The problem is that no matter how much pain Domino’s lawyers inflict on the perpetrators, it will be dwarfed by the damage the company has absorbed.
Big brands are facing a problem that is analogous to the one that faces the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and the waters off Somalia. Asymmetrical warfare always favors the little guy. The big, expensive weapons that were effective in traditional warfare aren’t effective in a world where the enemy can disappear into the warren of an ancient city (or the tangle of the world wide web). Brands’ best hope is to react with speed and force when they are attacked by new media terrorists. The problem is that the attack itself will always be more “media-friendly” (from the standpoint of the magnetic force it exerts upon the marketplace) than the finger-wagging response. While I feel for the president of Domino’s Pizza today, watching his video just makes me tired.
It’s not fair, but the advantage will always be with the offense, not the defense.