I know that I've been in the "what brands do" rather than "what brands say" school of thinking for some years now and, for the benefit of my German friends, I thought I'd write about the best example of a Brand Action that I've seen for a while.
Walkers Crisps in the UK got all their agencies together and came up with the idea of the public thinking up a new flavour of crisps. The inventor of the winning flavour will get not only a 50,000 GBP prize, but also 1% of future revenue from sales of the new flavour. That's really putting your money where your mouth is.
The campaign generated 1.2 million flavour ideas and Walkers are now down to the last few, which you can see here. While thirteen years in Germany have rather dulled my taste for Pickled Onion flavour crisps and the like, I find this action so right on so many levels: public engagement on a huge scale, use of many different forms of media, a central uniting idea, "fit" with brand voice and long-term brand spokesman Gary Linekar, synthesis of marketing with the real world out there, current Zeitgeist for Reality Show-style voting and, and, and...
Finally, while this idea would have been feasible a few years back (TV ads, competition on packet, phone lines), the new media such as Facebook and Yahoo! have really brought it to life, but the idea itself is not dependent on these media.
Which is how it should be. May the best flavour win!