Spec Work Is Not Consumer Generated Media (It’s Expert Generated Media)

Consumer generated media is a phrase tripping off alot of tounges in newsrooms and boardrooms today. But when is CGM not CGM? Let’s run some numbers.
Firefox, the open source browser with 50 million users worldwide asked its base to offer up a broadcast quality TV spot. 280 spots came in. I’m not much good at math, but that’s significantly less than one percent—a figure social media sites can count on to drive daily participation.
According to the New York Times Magazine:

The winner was titled “Daredevil,” in which a teenage girl, who says “I love things fast,” talks about surfing (the tag is “My other browser is a surfboard”). The second-place spot — in which representations of rival browsers acted flashy and stupid (Internet Explorer kept chanting, “Wheee!” like an idiot) while Firefox quietly did its job — came out on top in a sort of people’s-choice parallel contest, getting an average five-star rating from 29,000 voters. It received an additional 23,000 or so views on the Web site YouTube, where it also inspired at least one parody.
As it happens, Pete Macomber, the creator of the winning “Daredevil” spot, is — aside from being a Firefox user — an aspiring director. The maker of “Wheee!” Jeff Gill, is a Savannah College of Art and Design junior who is studying animation and calls himself “a huge contest guy.” So as much as their ads may be examples of “co-creation,” they also may be examples of “co-promotion.”

In other words, one man’s consumer generated media is another man’s expert generated media. It’s just that the experts (aspiring or otherwise) are not under contract.



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.