How Are You Adjusting?

From Ad Age:

What if ordinary TV viewers went from watching commercials to creating them? We’re about to find out.
Sony Electronics, Toyota Motor Sales USA and L’Oreal Paris have cut deals with Al Gore’s Current TV that will usher the beleaguered 30-second spot into the age of consumer-generated content and send shivers down the spines of agency creatives. The marketers will enlist the network’s viewers to produce commercials and will pay to air the best of those spots.
“Marketers grow up being brand guardians — here’s the handbook, here’s the logo, here’s how we use it,” said Anne Zehren, president-sales and marketing for Current TV. “Marketers now have to be brand hosts.”
That reflects the view of many proponents of user-created content, who believe brands will have to learn to give up control, that creative agencies will see their role reduced and that consumers will have as much of a say as marketers in defining a brand’s image.
Whether or not marketers like it, it’s already happening.
Tyson Ibele, a 19-year-old self-taught animator in Minneapolis, created a fake Sony spot last November that he posted to his personal Web site. The clip was quickly passed around the Web and became a hit; at one point Mr. Ibele had to yank it from his site when the traffic overwhelmed his server.
Current TV got in touch shortly after the holidays, telling Mr. Ibele his spot was a great example of what the network hoped to do with advertising. “We showed it to 15 Sony executives and they were speechless,” Ms. Zehren said. The spot will be the first submission for the viewer-created ad program.

Scary stuff, right? Wrong.
The future is one of co-creation.
I love consumer empowerment and I believe it’s great for business–the client’s and our own. But, the shift is not an earthquake, where everyone’s diving for cover. It’s a change of seasons.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Carl LaFong says:

    I have to say, the “fake” Sony commercial is way cool, even if it’s more of a triumph of style over substance. (It would’ve been even better without the unncessary titles.)
    Still, I can’t help but wonder: Now that consumers are creating their own commercials, will anyone want to actually watch them once the novelty wears off? Just as with the advertising spewed forth from agencies, most of it is bound to suck.
    Even as impressive as the Sony spot itself is, would anyone give a twig if it came from Sony’s ad agency?

  2. I think we now question what a commercial is.
    In many ways, it’s become pure brand-sponsored entertainment.
    Will the consumers work in brand benefits and such? I doubt if they’ll do so on purpose. Yet, they may do so just the same. For reasons all their own.

  3. Brand-sponsored entertainment. Is there a place for it? Sure. Hallmark has done it for decades. Texaco even further back with the Texaco Star Theater.
    But to expect consumers to incorporate actual sales-producing strategies is a huge “probably not”. Brands could set up “do it yourself” sites where strategies are posted. I’m sure some will take part. In the meanwhile, companies post pieces of their marketing strategies for all their competitors to see.
    Of course, at some point consumers might want compensation for their work. How long before they realize they’re being used as a free labor force?
    I keep waiting for people to realize this is all flavor-of-the-month, gimmicry. It’s no panacea for building a brand, establishing long-term relationships or driving quarterly sales.

  4. yeah, but wait till the “consumer creatives” have to watch their concepts get shredded by corporate commitees, lawyers and network censors. they’ll abandon the efforts long before the clients do.