April 4, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Advertisers look to grassroots marketing

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Perhaps the best Sony "ad" last year was created by a customer.

The slick video, called "Sony Transformation," features a stereo system that shape-shifts its way into different electronics devices courtesy of mind-bending "Matrix"-like special effects.

The spot was created in November by then-18-year-old, self-taught animator Tyson Ibele as a demo at MAKE, the small visual effects studio he works for in Minneapolis. The spot was viewed by executives at Current TV, an independent television network that focuses on viewer-created content and whose chairman is Al Gore. They called Ibele and asked him to submit it to the V-CAM (viewer-created ad message) campaign that Current has launched for advertisers including Sony, Toyota and L'Oreal. But first they did a little fact-checking.

"I brought (the spot) into Sony and said, 'Come on! You guys did this,'" recounts Colin Decker, creative director at Current TV. "And they said 'No.'"

In a world where blogs are as common as bumper stickers and YouTube has made viral videos as hot as Napster downloads were in their heyday, it's no wonder marketers are looking to John Q. Public for ideas. Corporations are jumping on the viral bandwagon in an attempt to appeal to a population for which disparaging advertising has become a philosophically based rallying cry.

Meanwhile, inexpensive digital cameras, more-powerful computers, easy-to-use editing and publishing software and the proliferation of broadband makes it easy for anyone with a laptop and some imagination to express himself or herself in hitherto out-of-reach ways.

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Video: Are you a marketing genius?
Big retail brands turn to customers for ads

"Traditional marketing methods have fallen short," Decker said in explaining why he expects viewer-created ads to take off in the market, particularly for the 18- to 34-year-olds who watch Current TV. "This demographic does not respond positively to something overly produced and (that is a) hard sell."

In the Current TV V-Cam campaign, viewers can enter video for any of seven campaigns and get paid $1,000 if their spot is chosen to run on the network. Toyota wants ads for its new Yaris car, L'Oreal Paris is marketing its High-Intensity-Pigments line of cosmetics and seeking a video testimonial to celebrate "Women of Worth." Sony is marketing its Handycam and Walkman, as well as looking for general ads that represent its style.

L'oreal Paris is also sponsoring a "You Make the Commercial Contest" on the teen entertainment site Varsity World.com. The grand prize winner of that contest is a video called "Juicy," made by two students at Granite Bay High School in California. In it, a young woman's lips and love life become more colorful when she puts on L'Oreal lip gloss.

Nike-owned Converse is asking amateur ad makers for original 24-second videos inspired by the Chuck Taylor AllStar Converse sports shoe. Chosen spots will be featured on the Converse Gallery Web site. "We only ask that you keep it apolitical, positive, original and inspiring," the site says.

MasterCard is opening up its "Priceless" ad campaign to the public. Participants can select one of two premade video clips and fill in the blanks that go along with the scene, naming products that cost various prices. The happiness that comes to the actor at the end of each clip is, like the campaign's name suggests, priceless.

Meanwhile, USA Networks is inviting people to upload material about themselves in videos that "could make it from the computer screen to the big screen."

"The holy grail for me as a marketer would be to have an entertaining viral video that was getting passed around and it doubled as a commercial," said Brian Monahan, who oversees online and offline ad campaigns for Microsoft at the Universal McCann ad agency. "Can we produce work like that? I don't know. But I'm counting on the kid in his bedroom who has a really funny idea."

How about a high school teacher in California's Orange County? George Masters paid homage to the iPod in a 2004 spot that at the time was widely distributed and praised as surpassing Apple Computer's own iPod commercials in originality.

See more CNET content tagged:
advertiser, spot, campaign, Toyota, Sony Corp.

8 comments

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Consumer Generated Advertising just following suit
It is a natural extension of consumer generated media that advertising agencies would start utilize the same type of resource. While the trend towards recognizing and using end user generated media in the fields of PR and journalism in the form of blogging continues to grow, it only makes sense that consumer generated advertising also be growing.

This article details well the risks and benefits of using such advertising with the exception of one huge benefit. Consider the cost savings and profit margin on a major advertising account from the view of an agency. Free creatives flowing from people who are already "fans" of a brand. Eliminate the cost of "creating" within the advertising agency and all of a sudden profits are up 1000%.

I would be wary were I the one being pitched the idea by my agency. I would also seek some sort of credit from the agency pitching a consumer generated campaign as the costs are so dramatically reduced.

But even if my agency were not forthcoming with these, I would definitely request to view the communications plan that will oversee the campaign output. I may even ask for a line item veto that enabled me to review all output before it was published or broadcast, and approved or denied it.

Of course, if my agency pitched a consumer generated media campaign to me, I may also just deny their request and produce it myself. That is just me though.
Posted by Dwight Stickler (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting
I do agree that stizers will become mainstream in the next few years. With blogs gaining such a foothold in recent years, consumers are beginning to dictate content at disconcerting speeds. Reality advertising may be something we see more often, as well as stizers [consumer generated advertising] foraying into traditional offline medias. I remember viewing a beer commercial that simply played the popular Christmas Lights YouTube content and thought it was a very innovative approach.
Posted by lordtekken (7 comments )
Link Flag
Consumer Generated Advertising just following suit
It is a natural extension of consumer generated media that advertising agencies would start utilize the same type of resource. While the trend towards recognizing and using end user generated media in the fields of PR and journalism in the form of blogging continues to grow, it only makes sense that consumer generated advertising also be growing.

This article details well the risks and benefits of using such advertising with the exception of one huge benefit. Consider the cost savings and profit margin on a major advertising account from the view of an agency. Free creatives flowing from people who are already "fans" of a brand. Eliminate the cost of "creating" within the advertising agency and all of a sudden profits are up 1000%.

I would be wary were I the one being pitched the idea by my agency. I would also seek some sort of credit from the agency pitching a consumer generated campaign as the costs are so dramatically reduced.

But even if my agency were not forthcoming with these, I would definitely request to view the communications plan that will oversee the campaign output. I may even ask for a line item veto that enabled me to review all output before it was published or broadcast, and approved or denied it.

Of course, if my agency pitched a consumer generated media campaign to me, I may also just deny their request and produce it myself. That is just me though.
Posted by Dwight Stickler (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting
I do agree that stizers will become mainstream in the next few years. With blogs gaining such a foothold in recent years, consumers are beginning to dictate content at disconcerting speeds. Reality advertising may be something we see more often, as well as stizers [consumer generated advertising] foraying into traditional offline medias. I remember viewing a beer commercial that simply played the popular Christmas Lights YouTube content and thought it was a very innovative approach.
Posted by lordtekken (7 comments )
Link Flag
Gotta love stizers [consumer generated ads]
I think stizers [consumer generated advertising] have huge market potential in coming years. Should be exciting to see it all develop.
Posted by lordtekken (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gotta love stizers [consumer generated ads]
I think stizers [consumer generated advertising] have huge market potential in coming years. Should be exciting to see it all develop.
Posted by lordtekken (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gotta love stizers [consumer generated ads]
I think stizers [consumer generated advertising] have great market potential in coming years. Should be interesting to see how it works out.
Posted by lordtekken (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gotta love stizers [consumer generated ads]
I think stizers [consumer generated advertising] have great market potential in coming years. Should be interesting to see how it works out.
Posted by lordtekken (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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