Based on what I read daily, Digital has eliminated the distance between brands and the people who buy them. Agencies, formerly the soft Oreo-cookie like creme filling between, are destined for the scrapheap as smart marketers simply open-source their branding/marketing.
This year's Superbowl saw "User-Generated" ads for Doritos, GM, the NFL, and even Alka-Seltzer asked folks to pen a jingle.
The book Wikinomics cites breathless examples of businesses that have grown exponentially by offering all comers a front seat to their internal workings/deliberations/decision-making, and describes the phenomenon of brands as, effectively, participatory theater. After all, who knows what consumers want more than the consumers themselves?
But here's the problem: a significant portion of the user generated stuff webwide is a vast sea of chum and self-indulgent mediocrity. Most blogs will never see a second post, let alone a visitor beyond the author. YouTube servers are choked with mind-expanding stuff like the kitty cat dance - (full disclosure - I love the 'kitty cat dance', and play it enough that my son now sings it around the house)
And handing over your brand to consumers may not always be the brightest thing to do. In spite of how Chevy tried to spin their "create your own video" contest.
Brands have a unique opportunity in this rapidly proliferating media landscape we call the web. And that role may not be group hug collaborator. When so many brands seem to be begging people to tell them what that brand should be, powerful brands, lighthouse brands have a unique, and ultimatley far more interesting role to play: