The Truth Behind Consumer Created Ads.

In a recent New York Times article, “Do-It-Yourself Super Ads” the Times writes about the effectiveness of so-called home-brewed, or consumer created  Super Bowl ads:

“Be afraid, Madison Avenue. Be very afraid. That seems to be the message in the aftermath of the crowded, frenetic advertising bowl that took place inside Super Bowl XLIV a couple of Sunday’s ago. Among those commercials consistently deemed most effective, memorable and talked-about, many were created or suggested by consumers — or produced internally by the sponsors — rather than the work of agency professionals.”

Some of what the New York Times is talking about are: Doritos’ “House Rules“. and, Doritos’ “Underdog” commercials. According to the New York Times, both spots tested very well in a variety of surveys and polls after airing. The conclusion being that: “Consumers seem to know best what other consumers will like to watch in the “unique” ad environment of the Super Bowl.”

OK I’ll give them that. They probably do. What the New York Times fails to mention is, Joshua Svoboda, the 24-year-old  who reportedly created the Dorritos’ “Underdog” commercial for or $200.00 and ended up with the grand prize of $600K  works as a creative director. A guy who works with him at 5 Point Productions  won another Doritos’ contest in 2007.  Which is not to say that these two gentlemen didn’t do  a great job, they did, but you know, the story would’ve been a whole lot stronger  if they were made by  the other Joshua Svoboda, the guy who is a plumber by day, Don Draper by night.

The guy who created Doritos’ “House Rules” is a “writer, director, producer & editor” in Hollywood. As for the two Herbert brothers who won Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” contest in 2008 they had been “building their Transit Films business“.

The five finalists in 2007 were a short-film director, a musician, the same Herbert brothers, the same 5 Point Productions teams, and an aspiring filmmaker Billy Federighi who also had won a similar contest by Converse that ran the year before and who was subsequently contracted by Leo Burnett after it aired.  (In 2008, the contest ran in a different format with Doritos looking for a music performer.)

The winner of Heinz’s 2008 “UGC” contest – Matt Cozza, a director, producer, photographer and editor.  Amazon’s 2009 contest winner – a pro photographer Angela Kohler who does really awesome work, by the way. This list goes on and on.

After reading the Times article I have to say the last thing agencies need to worry about is the average Joe stealing their collective thunder. They need to worry more about the client that read the article and thinks they can get the same results for $200.00 a DSLR, and a cast from the mail room.

After reading the article and doing some digging, my real gripe here is that these companies are spinning the ads as something genuine, when in fact they are really being created by industry professionals like me. I think I would have more respect for them if they were either upfront about the creators backgrounds, or if they restricted contest submissions to amateurs.

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