This is a quote I found on Open about the strength of brands:
"...brands are slowly waking from this almost slumbering sleep and recognising that they are themselves bigger networks than all of the television networks combined. Whether it is a can of Coke, whether it is a store front, the amount of people that are exposed to brands directly... is absolutely breathtaking. But more importantly brands are recognising, especially with digital new marketing that they can go directly to consumers..."
The quote is actually from an agency called Crayon.
It's true that digital media now allows brands to communicate and engage directly with consumers and by pass us lowly marketers. However, it also works the other way. AdAge named "The Consumer" as the Agency of the Year (article here). If you haven't seen the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, hit Youtube and see it. It led to a 15% increase in sales of Mentos. Top stuff, not a penny spent by Mentos or a marketing agency.
If you also look at blogging and how much consumers can influence brands just by talking about them openly and honestly - and how much consumers heap abuse on brands that try and manipulate them. If you're interested in a few of these cases, check out this article at the Guardian about the fake Wal Mart blog. Sony also did a Playstation 3 fake blog and got slated for it too.