Some quick thoughts and impressions from the OMMA Global Show from last week in San Francisco….

OMMA is primarily geared toward B2C marketers and the creative agencies that work with them. So most of the speakers and panels bring a slightly different perspective than we’d hear at an event like, say, DMA, where email and messaging channels are more central to the discussion. Yet it was great to be among so many smart marketers who are grappling with many of the same issues that we and many of our clients at Message Systems are confronting. Namely, empowered consumers and end-users who use mobile devices, social media, mobile text and other messaging channels to interact with each other and the brands they do business with in complex new ways. How do you reach people when they’re constantly on the move from device to device, format to format, channel to channel?

More than any other, the presentation by Craig Bierley, Advertising Director at Buick/GMC, was the one that showed just how much everything has changed around advertising and marketing in recent years. For anyone who grew up in 20th century America, GM brands were, of course, iconic. Not only were Chevys and Buicks and Pontiacs ubiquitous on streets and highways across the country, but they were also constants in slick magazine ads in Time magazine, and National Geographic and Sports Illustrated. Madison Avenue-produced commercials for new models were staple offerings on the three big broadcast networks. GM relied heavily on mass-market print and broadcast network TV advertising because it knew it could reach its audience most effectively through those conventional channels.

Back to OMMA 2011. Bierley’s presentation was a recap of Buick’s Moment of Truth project, which is essentially a dedicated social media site that centralizes all kinds of crowd-sourced content regarding GM’s new Regal model. To build out the site, Bierley and his team prominently featured it on the regular Buick site and Facebook page, and encouraged friends and fans to share their thoughts, impressions and content.

Then the Buick team gathered YouTube videos, Flickr photos, comments from their Facebook fan pages, professional reviews from the auto press, and any other content they could find out on the Internet, and pointed it back to the Moment of Truth site. Click on the “How Regal Stacks Up” tab or the “What the Experts Think” tab and you get a huge amount of content to choose from. Articles from Equire and, or featured video from a Popular Mechanics test drive. Event critical comments from Twitter or Facebook: “Comparing it to a Lexus is a stretch.”

To quote Bierley: “We embraced participatory culture by creating rich brand content experiences through a variety of channels and technologies.” The copywriters and creative directors from Mad Men might not recognize what Buick is doing as advertising, but this is state of the art marketing in 2011.