Improper Use Of Packaging

Remember the guy from Arizona who built his own furniture from FedEx boxes? FedEx sued him for improper use of their packaging.
Now, we have a new case of improper use of packaging. Two MIT students built a raft made from Gatorade bottles and paddled it across the the Charles River. After getting Gatorade’s attention, they received a nice letter and some coupons—a much better repsonse than litigation. However, this man thinks they were shortchanged. He wants the brand to get on board the cluetrain and feature the students in a TV spot.
Mack Simpson of Adverb believes such a spot would be off strategy.

Anyone who’s read this blog longer than a week or two knows I have some issues with consumer-generated content. Actually, I don’t have issues with consumer-generated content, I have issues with the people who profess to be thoughtful, cutting edge marketers who don’t think through the issues surrounding CGC and how it intersects with the brand before launching a smug tirade on how they are the ones who “get it” and how every brand should jump in with both feet and launch a CGC campaign now, damn the consequences (it’s all good) and damn the rationale for why (“come on, this is hot, you should do it”—or worse, “you should do it because it validates my consultancy”).
Don’t tell me Gatorade needs to get on the cluetrain. They’re one of the few brands out there who consistently get it right when it comes to speaking to their core consumer (those athletes I mentioned earlier) in a voice that rings perfect-pitch true.

I don’t know why the students built the raft, but if it was for any other reason that to have fun, or to see if they could make it float, it cheapens the activity in my eyes. Consumers have a right to do what they please with a product, but expecting the brand to pick up their oddball antics and shower them with gratitude is unrealistic. In the ideal world it would also be beside the point.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.