advertising, branding, content creating, IPA|ED:five, user-generating

The Trampling by Brands of User-Generated Creativity; why we have to do better than this

so if once is an incidence, twice is a co-incidence and three times is a theory, then I reckon we have a hypothesis on our hands.  I’ve now noticed three brands of late directly asking users to create adverts for them on the brands terms.

the first and loosest brief came from Ann Summers (above) and their viral academy.  they’re quite direct about it "we don’t retain a creative agency; instead we welcome ideas from talented creative people who contact us directly".  fair enough.  having had content independently submitted, they wanted to make sure it was more formalised.  but the brief remains loose…

"We expect most of the ideas to be for short films – like the ones you can find here  but we don’t want to limit you in any way. If you have a great idea for
a game, a song, a comic – anything at all – we’d love to hear it" [source]

much more recently I’ve come across a couple of examples that don’t show quite the same latitude in their briefs, or what they’re willing to accept.

first came ‘you make it, we play it’ from Doritos.  they’re getting a bit more specific about what they want…  it’s got to be – for example – exactly 29 secs in length.  a bit more specific then…

but any reservations that Doritos might be taking a slight advantage of consumers  was blown out of the water when I saw Armani’s brief at the weekend…

the rules – downloaded from the Armani contest website, stipulate that:

"each creation must comprise:

  • a packshot of the Emporio Armani For Him and For Her
    fragrances: either the packshot found on the Site (which under no circumstance
    may be modified) or a packshot of these fragrances created by the entrant;
  • the two logos found on the Site: Emporio Armani and Get
  • The English signature “Emporio Armani, The two fragrances:
    Get together”,to the exclusion of any other"

I’m not quite sure slave labour is what Larry Lessig had in mind when he talked about a truce in the corporate | consumer creative pact.  and I’m as sure as hell that ordering an army of consumers to use a packshot, logo and tagline as stipulated by Armani when user-generating, wasn’t approaching what Gibson or Jenkins had in mind when they described a future vision of participatory culture and collective intelligence.

brands either embrace the user-generation on their terms, with all the diversity that comes with it.  or once again miss the boat because they applied a brand-centric old model to a consumer-centric new world.  we surely have to do better than this.


3 thoughts on “The Trampling by Brands of User-Generated Creativity; why we have to do better than this

  1. Hookyboy says:

    Inherently, engaging with the active encouragement of UGC is not an incremental choice (such as ‘shall I raise my online advertising budget a little bit?’) but a discrete choice (ie I’m going to live by the sea, not in London.)
    Do you want to unleash an event in your brand’s story over which you have no control? Do you want the future of your brand to be reinvented in a sphere where connections will be formed that you could never have predicted? Or do you want it to be created in a studio, to a script, and pushed at people in a way that you can control?
    If you make the choice, you have to properly make it – and lots of brands, forms of entertainment, product should NOT be making that choice, and we should have the courage to say so, even if it doesn’t concur with our own self-image as creative, future-facing people.
    But if you have a strong brand story and the ambition of making a serious cultural impression you should have the courage to get people involved…and reap the benefits of activating a galaxy of connections in people’s minds, within their social groups and within culture that get you to levels of immersion that you would never get to otherwise.
    But there’s no such thing as a ‘little bit of UGC’ any more than you can have a ‘little bit of revolution’

  2. hey good point.
    it’s worth remembering though that brands don’t ultimately exist in studios and scripts – they exist in people’s heads…
    we have less control than we imagine over the brands in our care… consumers will make the most random of connections with or without our involvement.
    I guess our advertising is there to steer them in the right direction.

  3. Hookyboy says:

    for a much better example check out this:
    and then this:
    The Watchmen is the most respected graphic novel of all time, with a massive latent fanbase across the world. The film isn’t released for a year, but this contest gives you the chance to create and ad that will feature IN THE MOVIE
    This is any fan’s dream, and will lead to not only increase buzz around the marketing but also an enhanced entertainment product and a growing mythology around what we’re all hoping will be a great movie event…

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