Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, May 26, 2021

Consumer-created advertising has been an hot meme of late, promising to harness product enthusiasts’ incidental evangelizing into more authentic — and cheaper — promotional material than traditional ad agency product.

Has it turned out that way?

Consumer brand companies have been busy introducing campaigns like Heinz’s that rely on user-generated content, an approach that combines the populist appeal of reality television with the old-fashioned gimmick of a sweepstakes to select a new advertising jingle. Pepsi, Jeep, Dove and Sprint have all staged promotions of this sort, as has Doritos, which proudly publicized in February that the consumers who made one of its Super Bowl ad did so on a $12 budget.

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.

“That’s kind of a popular misnomer that, somehow, it’s cheaper to do this,” said David Ciesinski, vice president for Heinz Ketchup. “On the contrary, it’s at least as expensive, if not more.”

While I don’t doubt the labor-intensiveness of finding the diamond in the rough, the drawing of opinion from agency execs, which is prominent here, really makes this article come off as propaganda from the established guard. Of course those who make a living at this are going to disparage competition from amateurs; that’s going to inspire skepticism, regardless of the veracity of the opinion.

It also prompts the question of whether or not in-house corporate procedure has properly adjusted to accepting creative from this new channel. Rather than treating the process as a contest, maybe it should reorganize review as if it really were a mass submission of advertising pitches? In this way, traditional ad/marketing agencies can morph into clearinghouses of publicly-solicited content (sort of what they’re doing now with these campaigns).

No, I don’t expect to see many iconic ad messages coming out of Joe-Schmo videos. But it’s an engaging process, which can only lead to stronger brand dedication.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/26/2007 03:38:59 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet
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where's the crew?
While the following isn’t intended to be a piling-on to last week’s “Horsie Game” brouhaha, it’s probably inspired by it:

Well over a year ago, when Al Michaels jumped ship from ABC to NBC to continue calling primetime National Football League action, I envisioned additional job duties for the broadcaster:

Of course, the Peacock Network also broadcasts NHL games for the next couple of years. Dare I hope that Michaels will work a few hockey games, along with the NFL gig? He should have plenty of time, since the departure from ABC means he’s also giving up NBA announcing. It should be an even workload swap for Mr. “Miracle On Ice”.

And yet, to date, Michaels hasn’t gone near a National Hockey League rink on NBC’s behalf (as far as I know).

In fact, the network hasn’t deployed any of its NBC Sports on-air personalities to NHL coverage. It uses largely the same hockey crew that Versus uses, with a couple of additions (Brett Hull being the notable figure). It seems to be a pretty segregated set-up, and further puts across the feeling that the NHL is strictly a rental property in NBC’s programming stable.

No complaints from me about Bill Clement and company and their on-air work. But you’d think NBC would want to leverage names/faces like Michaels and Bob Costas (and even John Madden, if only for general sportsworthiness) to push the NHL package. Broadcast personalities by themselves aren’t going to ramp up the ratings for any sport, but they’ll draw in a few extra eyeballs, and expose viewers who otherwise don’t take notice of the NHL. And there’s plenty of promotional value in highlighting Michaels’ “do you believe in miracles” background.

Why the lack of crossover? You’d have to conclude that the present low ratings indicate there’d be a low return on investment if NBC “spent” hockey airtime on its big-time sports personalities. That is, the contracts for Michaels and Costas likely spell out what they will and won’t do, and NHL games aren’t on the list — they’d have to be convinced (i.e., paid more) to take on the additional assignment. NBC’s probably not pushing them to do the NHL games, and the talents probably aren’t asking to get the extra work.

It’s a shame. Michaels and Madden aren’t doing anything else in the football offseason, and Costas can certainly squeeze in a pregame show or two during the Stanley Cup Finals. Instead, relative obscurity.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/26/2007 02:53:13 PM
Category: Football, Hockey, TV
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If you’re as sick of encountering that overhyped Angus beef as I am, you might be heartened by the development of an unlikely means of exorcising the brand.

The unlikely exorcist: Jack in the Box. Its unlikely cleansing weapon: A tongue-in-cheek (or maybe elsewhere) ad campaign that runs down rival fast-food restaurants’ Angus burgers, which prompted a lawsuit from Carl’s Jr. citing the conveyance of misleading public perceptions.

The funniest part is that Carl’s Jr. may have a point:

“While Defendant may find humorous the aural and phonetic similarities between the words ‘Angus’ and ‘anus,’ ” the suit says, the link is made to create “the erroneous notion that all cuts of Angus beef are derived from the anus of beef cattle.”

Customers of [Carl’s Jr. parent company] Carpenteria-based CKE have actually asked why it charges $6 for a burger made from a cow’s bottom, Chief Executive Andy Puzder said.

Funny how one little letter can change a cut of meat from high-end to, well, low-end…

If that anecdotal evidence from Puzder can be believed — and it’s just goofy enough to ring true — then it’s not out of the question to see this little wordplay gain mindshare traction. Even people who don’t seriously believe that the ultra-lean beef cuts are anally-sourced might start taking a pass. Maybe a broader backlash/fatigue over the fad meat is just waiting for this sort of catalyst to send it out of culinary style.

On the other side, Angus breeders may want to start thinking of an alternative branding name for their product. The cow breed itself will always be known as Angus, but that doesn’t mean it has to be marketed under that name — particularly if it remains the butt of jokes ;)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/26/2007 01:13:12 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food
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