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Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Tom Hopkins

That's a pretty big topic! Alot of big brands going after the social networking scent probably haven't seen www.ning.com - the home of literally thousands of small social sites. No consumer needs a brand to enable their commmunity any more.

In terms of UGC (or user-generated advertising!?), this is a great quote from Alex Bogusky when he was interviewed in New Media age:

"There's the old phrase that the consumer owns the brand, and people loved to say it at a time when it was less true. Now, as it becomes more and more true, it's not necessarily even the consumer generating the advertising that's a watershed, it's the real-time ability they have to comment on the advertising, be involved in the advertising and then, whether you want them to or not, take those assets and recreate them and do things with them. With our US campaign 'The Burger King', there's a lot of consumer-created content starring this character called the Burger King. Some of the things that people did with the character would make most brand managers a little bit nervous.

"The one that made me most nervous was when someone took the Burger King and put him on the cross instead of Jesus. That was one of probably a hundred different images that were created on this website with all these different Burger King icons. What people are going to have to get used to is that the consumer plays much rougher with the brands than you'd necessarily want them to. We did some labels for Molson Beer, back labels that would say all sorts of things like 'I'm going commando', fun stuff to get conversation started in bars. We had consumers generate some and they were all so rude that we couldn't use a single one out of 5,000 entries.

"Consumers will take you to places where you don't necessarily want to go and that's going to happen to more and more brands."


Tom - that's an absolutely brilliant quote.

Amelia - I've outlined a few via Facebook. And you've got mail on the topic. Check your Gmail.


The best example of UGC content I know of (and not a commonly quoted one) is SeeMeTV by 3 mobile.

Users upload videos from their 3 phones and get paid everytime someone watches one of the clips on the dedicated SeeMeTV channel on the 3 network. Some people make four figures sums from their clips.

Google SeeMeTV to find out more.

NB: 3 are one of our clients but we don't work on SeeMeTV.


Naughty as I'm kind of involved in it. And yes, there's loads of online music competitions... but Music Nation (www.musicnation) has good level of sophistication (interface/technology wise), a theme and focus that a lot of other UGC opps don't... and revolves around social networking for bands/artists.

John Grant

When Amp'D was being trialled in the USA, they had signed hundreds of millions of dollars away in exclusive content deals with the likes of MTV. But in their quant testing the single most popular piece of video was of some students snorting vodka.

The user generated content thing makes most sense to me when it is amusing clips which people share, like passing funny notes in class. You could call it a social currency. If I was strategising about this for a brand (which I am not, but I sat through a meeting yesterday with some futurists who were eulogising about this for the banking industry, but their examples were things like that Jestream 'lesbian airplane toilet sex' - which incidentally must do fantastically on google natural search term ranking - viral which would be somewhat wildly inapprorpiate if interesting, for the Bradford & Bingley) anyway, back to the point... I would try to think of new ways to help people create, share and find interesting stuff, rather than in any way trying to get my brand into the 'stuff'. Branded utility and all that. :J

 East of Dulwich

It seems to me that marketing departments are giving up on the b-sphere. Try as I might, I've completely failed to get advertisers interested in my blog, despite its global reach. I currently have a deal with Nordqvist, the Transnational Finnish Tea Conglomorate. However, payment is solely in kind -- how much flavoured tea can one man drink? -- and I'm now reduced to shamelessly plugging myself on other people's hard-earned sites.


I know its a mouthful but participatory media is to me a much nicer term to use plus it has a Wikipedia entry. The term User smacks of old school marketing consumer jargon, and well smack.

I totally agree with John's point about getting the community into the brand and not the brand into the community. It's a bit like Persil customers tipping up at the Ivy and interrupting a nice adland get together over the Shepherds Pie. Interrupting the conversation doesn't go down well anywhere unless there's a quid pro quo such as MSM.

Amelia Torode

Tom, really liked your point about User Generated Content Vs User Generated Advertising. There's a great artice in the NY Times today about UGA.

This was the killer paragraph:

"But these companies have found that inviting consumers to create their advertising is often more stressful, costly and time-consuming than just rolling up their sleeves and doing the work themselves. Many entries are mediocre, if not downright bad, and sifting through them requires full-time attention. And even the most well-known brands often spend millions of dollars upfront to get the word out to consumers.

Some people, meanwhile, have been using the contests as an opportunity to scrawl digital graffiti on the sponsor and its brand. Rejected Heinz submissions have been showing up on YouTube anyway, and visitors to Heinz’s page on the site have written that the ketchup maker is clearly looking for “cheap labor” and that Heinz is “lazy” to ask consumers to do its marketing work."

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