This year just one Super Bowl advertiser is relying on consumer-generated creative: PepsiCo. Doritos and Pepsi Max are working together, building on Doritos’ well-established Crash the Super Bowl event.
Several years back, it looked like consumer-generated advertising was the wave of the future, especially for big, high profile events like the Super Bowl. Doritos, CareerBuilder and General Motors all embraced the idea.
The logic seemed quite compelling for several reasons. First, consumer-generated advertising is a way to engage consumers. What better way to create brand advocates than to get your consumers to create advertising for you?
Second, consumer-generated advertising feeds into social media and creates buzz. A contest with an opportunity for people to vote for their favorite spot, for example, encourages people to leverage their (social) networks to drive votes.
Third, a company doesn’t need an advertising agency with this type of advertising and, in turn, lowers the amount of ad dollars spent.
However, using consumers to create advertising, as with many things in life, is much harder than it seems.
One obvious challenge is that building awareness of the contest takes money and effort. People won’t participate in a contest if they don’t know about it. Also, the prize has to be significant and the expenses of running the contest in a fair and equitable way can be high. Creating this awareness isn’t easy or cheap.
But besides money, the bigger problem is that creating a high quality piece of advertising is difficult. It is challenging, both creatively and technically, despite all the technology improvement.
At Kellogg, we evaluate advertising using a six point framework (ADPLAN). If a piece of advertising is going to work it has to first break through the clutter (attention). It then has to be unique (distinction). It has to communicate a benefit (positioning) and this has to be connected to the brand (linkage). People have to then remember the correct message (amplification) and it has to all be consistent with the brand equity (net equity).
This is an incredibly difficult task. Advertising professionals struggle to create effective ads, even with many years of experience. Consumers struggle even more.
Worst case, consumers create ads that generate controversy and protests, as PepsiCo discovered this year when one consumer created a spot that offended some Catholics.
If you want to see just how hard it is, look at the entries Pepsi Max and Doritos received this year. While some of them are quite good, the vast majority are very weak, indeed.
Despite some compelling logic, consumer-generated creative, in my opinion, won’t be taking over the Super Bowl anytime soon.