Barbara Gray, CFA – February 27, 2013 – “In a transparent world, a consumer is a watchdog, a critic, a conscience – but also a partner, a collaborator.”

The Naked Brand – Official Trailer from The Naked Brand on Vimeo.

That is one of the underlying messages in the newly released documentary movie “The Naked Brand”, which explores how the Social Era is disrupting the traditional corporate advertising model. I first heard of it back in the summer, from Michael Behrens, a San Francisco-based firm producer who we met last year at SXSW, who worked as the Associate Producer on the documentary with Filmmaker Jeff Rosenblum. We have been looking forward to seeing it so when we got Apple TV last week, it was the first movie we rented. Wow! What a powerful movie – so much so that I felt compelled to watch it a second time and take notes as it is so in line with our social capital thesis.

The underlying theme of the documentary is how social media is creating a new world of transparency. As legendary advertising maverick, Alex Bogusky, poses “What I always say about transparency is it isn’t a choice – it’s going to happen – the question is, does it happen to you or do you participate in it.” I didn’t know this but apparently 51 of the 100 largest economic entities in the world are corporations. But as Bogusky profoundly states near the end of the movie “I don’t think it can end with corporations as the great power on Earth – I think it ends with humanity itself.”

I was intrigued with Bogusky’s forward-looking bold assertions and came across a great article written in Fast Company magazine in August 2010 titled Alex Bogusky Tells All: He Left the World’s Hottest Agency to Find His Soul that explores why he left his famed and award-winning advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. He has started a new firm with his wife called Fearless (www.fearlessrevolution.com) with the vision to “explore a new, more meaningful relationship between people, brands and culture. We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the way business is done towards more transparency, more collaboration, more democracy, and ultimately more value.”

The documentary talked about how “we’ve lost our faith in corporate messages – now we turn elsewhere to find the truth and share what we find” and provided the following statistics that I believe really highlights how empowered consumers are becoming in this new Social Era:

  • Google – 2.5B searches every day
  • Facebook & Twitter – 1,000 posts per second
  • YouTube – more videos uploaded in a month than major TV networks broadcast in last 60 years

Interestingly, the documentary also featured a few of the select companies that ranked highly in our Customer Value Index 200 (www.cvi200.com). Kevin Plank, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Under Armour (UA-NYSE) spoke about how “at the essence of every great brand is trust” while Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, Unilever (UL-NYSE), discussed how “we can do well by doing good”.

But I think the most useful advice came from Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia:

“Those who don’t stick their necks out, who are afraid to take risks, who play it safe — they lose it all in the end.”