I was reminded of this issue by C.B. Whittemore's post on our recent retail walkabout at Levi's Customer Retail Experience. During our visit to the Levi's store, C.B. asked about taking a picture of their new Curves display and we were told that we couldn't take photos in the store.

More recently, on a retail walkabout with a group of students from Austria, we went into the new AllSaints Spitalfields store in Soho, where several of the students wanted to send pictures of the merchandise back to friends at home and we were also told that pictures were not permitted. They wanted to introduce their friends to a brand that isn't in Austria yet because they thought their friends might want to shop them, and they were told no.

I get that years ago, when brand managers might shop their competitors and try to sneak in a few photos of a display or something, that retailers might've asked people not to take pictures. Of course, that was also long before cell phones with cameras were everywhere. And long before the internet and Google. Just look at the number of images of the Allsaints Soho store at all saints soho - Google Search.

But today, I don't get it. We in the ad industry talk about things like WOM and that the consumers in control and the brand isn't, yet go into your favorite store and try to take a picture. You'll find that 9 times out of 10, you're not in control.

So, we want the consumer to co-create, to help spread the word. Yet in many instances, we only want them to share things that we give them, on our terms. Why is it that when they walk into one of the key buying locations, we ask them not to share. We talk about the future of social shopping, yet stop it from practically happening today.

As C.B. said in her piece, Why not let me take photos? The Curves Contraption is talk-worthy and I would have loved to share with you a photo of myself being 'measured'. It's not as if it's a state secret; it's readily available online.

If the consumer really is in control, let them share their experience with your brand. Of course, as I've said in Stop Listening to the BS - You Do Control the Message!, in this new world, you need to create an experience worthy of positive WOM. If you're afraid you can't deliver that, well, you're clearly in the wrong business.

Original Post: http://blog.polinchock.com/2010/08/no-pictures-please.html

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