Marketers are constantly trying to measure the impact of using social media such as Facebook to promote products.
Beyond “likes”, a unique approach has been used over the last few years to encourage consumers to create their own commercials.
The specs are easy: there’s a specific brand, the thirty second spot has to be filmed and downloaded to a specific site and either consumers vote for it (a la American Idol) or company executives pick the best ones.
This phenomenon is known as “user generated content” and marketers not only generate publicity for the contests but also get full ownership of all the ideas developed – with mixed results.
One of the most famous of these efforts has been “Doritos — Crash the Super Bowl Ad Contest with official rules that read like a creative brief (the form that describes what type of creative requirements an ad agency must deliver):
Review the assets provided in the Toolkit on the Web Site.
Get together your idea for a DORITOS® brand Super Bowl XLVI commercial. Make it action-packed. Make it funny. Make it something you’ve never seen before. It’s up to you. Just make it awesome.
Create and submit a 30-second spot featuring DORITOS® brand tortilla chips.
Judging Criteria ("Judging Criteria") is as follows:
Originality and Creativity - 40%
Adherence to Creative Assignment - 30%
Overall Appeal - 30%
Five commercials are selected, we get to vote for a month, and then the top spot runs on the Super Bowl with enormous perks and opportunities for the winner.
To date, this has worked amazingly well for Doritos: lots of entries, lots of excitement leading up to the big game, except for the controversial “Doritos as a new addition to Holy Communion” ad mentioned here in last week’s blog.
Other companies who have tried this route successfully included Dove’s Cream Oil Body Wash (see YouTube for examples) with the winning commercial aired at the 79th annual Academy Awards. (TV’s second most important show for airing new commercials) as well as mentions on the Oscar.com site.
And one of the savviest marketers of all -- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts -- asked for consumer pictures and videos to star in their “Let the Memories Begin” campaign.
Years ago, and I’m not so sure that it has changed much; marketers and advertising agencies would never consider unsolicited ad ideas from the public. Now, user generated content is not only a way to get fresh ideas (finally a correct use of the phrase “free advertising”) but it’s getting it from the consumers who are passionate enough about your product to create the commercial in the first place.
And they have the technology to place it on the web – viral media exposure for a generation that’s receptive to the Internet because they are worn out from traditional media like television and radio.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that you can give this community a chance to love you and the results can be disastrous.
Chevy tried this technique a few years ago with a contest regarding adding words to existing video and music clips for the Chevrolet Tahoe. Published reports suggested that the negative responses outweighed positive ones and that satire ruled the day. Issues about dwindling oil reserves and expensive fill-ups -- well you can imagine the rest.
So when advertisers constantly look for ways to make brands seem more real, extend an ad campaign’s life or use lots of media choices to promote, be ready for more advertisements that focus on you and your engagement with the communication.
After all, you just might be the one who prepares the message in the first place.