Ads Get Consumer Production Value

Discussion
Jan 24, 2007

By George Anderson

Consumer marketers are looking to the YouTube and Ziddio generation to help brands make a splash – not just online, but on television screens.

This year, Doritos, Chevrolet and the National Football League held contests for consumers to submit ideas for ads to run during the Super Bowl.

Doritos’ approach is unique in that, unlike Chevrolet and the NFL, the Frito-Lay brand is airing a spot made entirely by the amateur contestant. Chevy and the league have brought in professional talent to bring the award winner’s ideas to life.

Ann Mukherjee, vice president for marketing at the Frito-Lay unit, said the company would not change the winning ad “one iota.”

“Any big gain is going to take a lot of risk, and we went in with our eyes wide open,” she told The Associated Press. “It was really an effort to give our consumers control over their brand in an age where consumers really want a voice over what they love.”

Discussion Questions: What are your thoughts on the current practice of marketers running ads created by consumers of their products? Are marketers taking a big chance, considering the audience and dollars involved, to run ads created by amateurs during the Super Bowl?

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11 Comments on "Ads Get Consumer Production Value"


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Brian Numainville
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Don hit it right on the head. This is a short term fad that won’t be around once the next big thing hits. Right now it is a novel approach, and indeed will be cool because of the free market research, at least in terms of how groups of people perceive the various brands. Should be fun to watch!

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Well you’d better wash my mouth out with soap (or spray my keyboard with disinfectant)–NOT ALL PROFESSIONALLY PRODUCED ADS ARE ANY GOOD. There are obviously so many bad ads allegedly featuring real people that there are now spoof ads featuring real people (saw several during my recent trip across the US). Real ads featuring real people cannot be worse than some of the worst professionally produced ads. Grab the soap again–some of them may be better. As has already been pointed out, the selection criteria will have something to do with that. One more thought, though–if this fad (and I do believe that that is what it is) proves unsatisfactory to marketers (as opposed to consumers) then they’d better watch out for the backlash from consumers who may just begin to think that their point of view is not really valued as highly as the marketers want them to think.

Phillip T. Straniero
Guest
Phillip T. Straniero
15 years 3 months ago

Interestingly enough we recently had an intense conversation in my Food & CPG Marketing Strategies class at Western Michigan University on this very topic! The students really like the alternative product messages that are found on YouTube and other similar sites and were especially enthusiastic about several spots for major brands that appeared on these sites. However, there is one caveat that came through loud and clear–if the content was produced by a consumer it was believable; if they suspected it was produced by the brand owner they had little or no interest. If the Super bowl spots can be positioned as 100% consumer-generated content they will have a chance to succeed; if not they will be viewed only for their entertainment value but will not be effective in creating a following for the brand!

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
15 years 3 months ago

This idea is long overdue. Consumers like the idea of being involved with a product they use and enjoy. This practice can result in more insightful ads with a greater dose of reality than what is often seen today. And because the idea is still unusual, it can create favorable publicity and goodwill for the company and product involved. Can’t wait for the Super Bowl!

Santiago Vega
Guest
Santiago Vega
15 years 3 months ago

If you read a recent study by Leo Burnett Worldwide, you’ll find that Madison Avenue has misrepresented and failed to connect with an astounding 79% of the American male population. So giving your customers the opportunity to express their relationship with their favorite brands doesn’t sound like a crazy idea, especially if marketers still have the final say regarding what airs and what doesn’t.

I don’t think this practice will be permanent. Marketers are using it in order to generate loads of word of mouth, keep in tune with consumers, see how they view different brands and determine what resonates with them.

When this consumer-generated-ads practice gets tired or proliferates, marketers will continue to call all the shots.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

This is a little like selling your own house without a realtor. A lot will depend on how market-savvy you are, and how much effort you put into the job. You’ll probably come out ahead, but you could also shoot yourself in the foot. As for using the ads by amateurs, much will depend on how smart the people are at headquarters–the ones screening the ads, that is. If the chairman wants to screen them, and insists that the potential winners all show a photo of the factory and have puffery about how wonderful the product is, you have some very bad ads. If the company has a smart, skilled marketer with an edge, who can understand what will work and what won’t, and how it fits into the long-term communications, you may well come out ahead.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

I’m thinking it’s a lot cheaper than hiring an ad agency

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

Generally, a single ad does not stand alone. An ad campaign should support the brand’s market positioning. That doesn’t mean an ad shouldn’t be memorable. It simply needs to support the positioning. If the amateur-created ad fulfills that mission, and it’s memorable, it’s a home run. If it’s an unaligned distraction, the value is minimal.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 3 months ago

I agree with Santiago’s observation that this trend is probably not permanent. Consumers talking to consumers has been around forever. It’s called word of mouth. Technology is now making it possible to expand word of mouth through internet posted videos. That part will probably not go away, although it will lose some of the novelty it currently generates. For all the reasons those with ad backgrounds noted above, it’s unlikely that consumer generated ads will become a staple.

However, the cool side benefit of all this is that marketers get to see how a group of consumers view their brand. By no means is this view indicative of anything other than that group, but it’s free market research!

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

This is really more about consumer involvement in a brand than giving them “control,” I’d say. I would suspect Frito-Lay management retained some considerable control over the selection criteria. But the bottom line is that the idea has worked to garner considerable free publicity for the Dorito’s brand and the company. A lot depends on placement in show, etc., but I’d also wager this ad will be one of the most watched in the Superbowl slot. Consumers who are aware of it will look for it, and (hopefully) adopt it as created by “one of us!”

Perhaps the true test that will separate the effectiveness of these ads from those of the pro’s would be to run it without telling anyone what it is or who created it. Then see if it gets a “Wow!” or a “huh???”

Dick Seesel
Guest
15 years 3 months ago

These will probably be among the most-watched spots on the Super Bowl, as pointed out above, and it’s also a way to get consumers more engaged in your brand in the first place. Think of this as a variation on the YouTube phenomenon or as a 60-second version of a reality show. Part of the fascination with a show like American Idol is discovering the train wrecks, not just the talent–and what viewer won’t want to talk back to the TV, “I can make a better commercial than that”?

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