On Open Source Marketing

I'm not surprised in the least that Firefox was able to secure funding from loyal users to pay for a full page add in the New York times.  What I am surprised about is why anyone would say this is the future of PR?  I could agree that blogging and social networks play a powerful role in PR, but isn't buying an ad in the NYT a little "old school"?  Sure, the exposure will be great, but how sticky will the message be to the readers of the NYT?  This feels like a symbol at best.

Comments (14)

  1. It is a symbol. It’s a great symbol, but it’s really nothing more. The effect of the ad itself will be minimal.

    What isn’t minimal is the effect that the blogging and PR and coverage this event will get. Whether they succeed or fail, the idea (and the mobilization of customer-driven evangelism) has been a resounding success.

  2. josh ledgard says:

    True, the PR generated by trying to build this stunt has been a success. I’ll be really impressed if the next stunt is a superbowl ad.

  3. Mike Capp says:

    You’re right, it is a symbol. I think it’s not so much about the ad itself, as about the umpty-zillion news sites and blogs who are writing stories (for free!) about an OSS project taking out a full-page ad in the NYT. I must admit to being a little sceptical myself, but it’s by no means as daft an idea as it first sounds.

    Umpty-zillion and one now, of course. Thanks 😉

  4. Jackie Huba says:


    The reason why I say this is the future of marketing/PR is because they are opening up the launch of the product to its customers. While I’m not sure how effective the NYT ad actually will be, they did create loads of buzz about *how* they solicited loyal customers to help with the ad. And how fast they raised the money!

    They are also asking customers to volunteer to host a launch party in their city on November 19. People are already signing up in countries around the world. http://www.openforce.at/mozparty2/

    I think the future of marketing is marketing *with* your customers, not *at* your customers. Smart companies will ask their loyal, passionate customers to join them in their cause and it will reinforce their loyalty.

  5. josh ledgard says:

    Jackie: I agree with your statements about marketting with your customers. I just wonder, for commercial companies like Tivo, where the line is between marketting with yout customers and pimping them out.

  6. josh ledgard says:

    Jackie: Also… I love your blog.

  7. Then you should read the book, it’s great. I read hers and Free Prize Inside side by side and it was a great week for my brain 😉

  8. Jackie Huba says:

    Josh: I think TiVo’s new referral program, where current customers can earn points redeemable for prizes, all for convincing friends and family to buy a TiVo, is, in essence, pimping out their customers. The sad side of the story is that TiVo evangelists have been selling everyone they know for FREE for the last 5 years. They didn’t need to be "reimbursed."

    TiVo *could* have open-sourced their marketing by setting a goal for the number of subscribers needed (say, by quarter) and then asking the members of TiVoCommunity.com for help in reaching the goal. I’m convinced that a number of these loyal customers would have personally committed to closing a specific number of sales themselves, and reported them in. They would have also brainstormed lots of grassroots marketing ideas and perhaps even volunteered to lead them for their community.

    This "open-source marketing" approach can definitely work for commercial companies, but only if they are selling something remarkable and are humble enough to cede some control to customers.

    P.S. Thanks guys, for the nice words about the blog and the book : )

  9. Joe Markwith says:

    Open Source Marketing is many things. It really depends on your strategy. I don’t think it will ever replace conventional marketing and PR vehicles but I do think there is a need to Open Source Marketing strategies on equal footing with strategies that employ print, radio, TV, events and direct forms of marketing. In the example of Firefox the New York Times ad placement could be a great tactic to “legitimize” many open source software projects to consumers, a vast number of which have no idea what is available to them in OSS. I think its a smart move if it was done within the context of an overall strategic plan to win people over to OSS.

  10. josh ledgard says:

    Yup, all of the comments hae worked to change my opinion of the the move a bit. As I state in my discliamer…. I reserve the right to change my opinions over time. 🙂

  11. ImranHashmi says:

    too late to post any reply on this but enjoyed reading your views…

    Imran Hashmi


  12. MSDNArchive says:

    No problem. Thanks for the feedback.

Skip to main content