advertising, branding, engaging, internet, user-generating

Making Up Your Own Foreign Melodrama

Bb_virgin_subtitle_superstar_2 one of the highlights in what has been a pretty gloomy year for Virgin Media has surely to be their sponsorship of BB, which has consistently outdone the programme it sponsors in terms of entertaining content.

but those clever people at GoodStuff communications haven’t let Virgin stop there.  they’ve persuaded the sponsor (and the creative agency) to let consumers subtitle their own bumpers – the best ones will be played out in the BB final.

to take part you simply go to the Subtitle Superstar website where you can choose a clip and subtitle to your hearts content.

getting consumers to create their content is nothing new, but this has the double winner of 1. demanding creativity within the context of (in BB) a very highly-valued piece of scheduling real-estate, and 2. rewarding the best creations by showing it to an audience of millions during one of the few truly event TV occasions remaining in the TV calendar.

what makes this stand out isn’t that it’s asking consumers to create content; the sorely-missed Tony Hart’s Gallery did that a long time ago, and the age of the internet has made this a staple of the comms planner’s tool-kit.  what makes it stand out is the access it gives consumers to a highly-valued media brand.  like it or loathe it, BB retains a very high stock with 16-34s, and this kind of access isn’t easily come by.  the fact that the access comes courtesy of Virgin Media can only do good stuff for the brand.

as an aside, it’s worth noting that it comes in the wake of a pretty bad week for the BBC, GMTV and their bedfellows who were less than honest with viewings during TV competitions.  failing standards, plummeting levels of trust, a fundamental betrayal (if reports are to be believed) of the nation – and that’s just page 2 of a full-colour supplement on the issue courtesy of the Mail!

…despite the fact that it’s been massively over reported, the fact remains that the TV stations have genuinely been caught with the pants down.  why?  because they were so keen to give viewers the perception that they were involved in the programme, they forgot to make sure they were actually genuinely involved in the programme.  could they really have been surprised when viewers reacted not too happily about it not all being as it seemed.

and herein lies the rub…  the reaction of viewers and the media told us not about the lack of trust between consumers and brands, but about the absolute existence of trust between consumers and brands.  the extent of the reaction bears testimony to the high levels of trust that brands (the BBC it must be said in particular) have engendered.

because engaging with consumers and co-creating content with them has become such a staple of many brands’ activities, consumers are spending more time than ever before engaging with them.  and when any brand asks consumers to engage with them, to spend precious time with them, to commit energy and creativity to them, they can’t be surprised if – when this relationship is undermined – consumers get more pissed off than they would if they didn’t particularly  like a 25×4 colour.

engaging with consumers is two-way relationship.  and if the comms planning and marketing community wants to continue to evolve the nature of brand communications, they better make sure that they live up to their end of the bargain.


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