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.