Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fad, my ass

Mack Simpson, fresh from his three-week hiatus of baby-birthing and commercial-birthing, points out a recent article by Marc Brownstein (of Brownstein Group, a Philadelphia agency) panning Consumer Generated Content - ads by people who aren't in advertising.

There's plenty of bile surrounding the subject of consumer-generated ads, content, etc. Mostly from nay-sayers who think creativity is best left to creatives. And as one of those, I think, yeah, leave that to me. I have a serious house payment that says I should be doing this instead of Joe Average Beer Drinker. I have a degree, dammit.

That said, I think looking at CGC as a fad is an over-simplification of what has become an ever more complicated issue. Face it, Marc. It's what consumers want: a voice. They said the internet was a fad (not Al Gore, though). Look at us now: blogging our lives away, engaging in Second Lives, e-commerce,, etc.

They said Reality TV was a fad. They said Donny Deutsch was a fad. If only.

I've heard this fad shit before. This may indeed by news to Marc, but fads are our business. If it's going on out there, we should atleast be considering it in here. (and by in here I mean my overly warm office). Ignoring it, dismissing it, poo-pooing it in AdWeek is sticking your head in the sand.

Consumers have been creating their own content for ages. It was called word-of-mouth. It's the most revered of marketing. And only with the recent conflux of do-it-yourself media (blogging, podcasting, YouTube, ) have folks truly been able to get their messages Neilsen-worthy ratings. And you know what? Some of them are kind of good. (plenty of them are friggin horrible - but they die the kind of death we could only WISH on mediocre traditional advertising) They're being done by kids and film students and disgruntled former employees who feel like there's a side to the story worth telling. And in many cases, there is. Great agencies like Butler Shine Stern and Partners have capitalized on Converse' fervent fan base and made the brand a channel. Like MTV (another fad, we were sure.)

People want to be part of brands. People "join" brands. And dammit, people are going to create content whether or not you ask them to.

Why not invite them to the discussion instead of holding them, Heisman-like, at arms length? Why are we still creating content in buckets of broadcast, print, outdoor, "guerilla" and "viral" Come ON. This is what the good agencies mean when they say "come up with a good idea. Then figure out how to best implement it."

A fad? We've seen political revolutions (see inset) that were resolved in less time. And that's what it is. A revolution in which consumers rip the voice of brands out of the ass-kissing mouths of ad agencies and turn the camera around to see the whole story. And sometimes it's a compelling one.

As surely as people are reading this blog, consumer content is alive and well.


Jetpacks said...

Advertising is one of those rare things that everyone, especially Joe Average Beer Drinker, thinks they can do. How many late-night football watching hangouts have you been a part of, where everyone is either laughing in unison or ripping some ad to shreds?

They poo-pooed banner ads in the beginning, saying they were "polluting the web" and all the purists dreamed of a free and useful Internet. The Internet is still usefull, now it's just cluttered with ads, and the agency that doesn't recognize CGC as the I need to speak the cliche? destined to the....shadow of Joe Average Beer Drinker.

We may hate it (CGC) - but we need to find a way to get it to work for us.

James-H said...

There will always be a place for traditional advertising - so long as it looks like the kind of stuff Sony Bravia is doing. Completely impossible to ignore. And impossible to produce without a budget, a director and a permit.

But with today's ever-shrinking marketing dollars and ever-increasing media costs, no wonder clients and agencies are looking for ways to leverage free media and free production.

It makes business sense. And, in some cases, brand sense.

Make the logo bigger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Make the logo bigger said...

The ONLY prob I have are the new media cheerleaders who take CGC and then anoint it as the consumer now having 100% control of the brand. In terms of CGC? Yes. Because there's no way a brand could come up with some of the fucked-up shit I‘ve seen on the YT. (That's right, Art Director Genrated Term – I coined it for YouTube bitches.)

But what they miss about CGA is that it's just one part of the overall puzzle. Their mistake is that they think it's the only one.