It would seem that user generated content is now officially a trend as Time magazine has named you as the person of the year for the rise of user generated content. Somehow this trend has gone horribly wrong as Madison avenue is now content to turn the vision of their clients brands over to the consumers and let them do their jobs for them.
Southwest is the latest major marketer solicit clips of users’ most awkward or humiliating moments on YouTube. Southwest joins ongoing Superbowl contests from Doritos (Crash the Superbowl) and the NFL (Super Bowl Super Ad), as well as past entrants like Mastercard (Priceless.com) and Converse (Converse Gallery), not to mention the doomed direct publishing model from Chevy Tahoe.
I believe that there can be power when you let consumers become participants and not spectators when it comes to your brands but there has to be line where we as advertising professionals are the experts and guides for our clients. Maybe it is because I am a second generation creative director who grew up with the “old” agency model that believed in good ideas or maybe it is because I refuse to join the growing mass of creatives who are allowing themselves to be reduced to nothing more than the people who dig through piles of YouTube video for the funniest fart joke for their next tv spot. So to those executives who find their ad agencies telling them that their best idea is someone else’s idea I would say that if you believe that then you should follow that logic through and fire them on the spot and let a focus groups write your next campaign.