Consumer-Generated Ads vs Mad Men

Web 2.0 has not only ushered in social media, it fostered a movement of consumer-generated content and crowdsourcing. We can believe and trust in things we read and view if its endorsed by one of our friends, business associates or social networks chums. Traditional advertising? ... not so much! Consumer-generated content as a sea-change has gained so much traction that even advertising in a lot of respects is now controlled by the public.

So is the era of Mad Men and big-time advertising agencies coming to a close? Does today's consumer want even their ads produced by a fellow consumer? Yes, the relationship between advertiser and consumer has become strained, and I think both parties are re-thinking their original bed-partner arrangement.

As an AdAge report suggested, "we recommend marketers to embrace Consumer Generated Advertising (CGA) no so much for the ads it may yield, but for the experience in crowdsourcing , and for the corporate-culture change inherent in re-imagining the relationship between the marketer and group formerly known as The Customer."

It's how Time Magazine determined their 2006 person of the year ... From MySpace to YouTube to Tivo, we're now a nation of mini-media moguls -- writing our own stories. So as the Super Bowl approaches every year since 2007, several intrepid advertisers have sought out "your" creativity to help tell "your" stories.

"Consumer-generated" production fueled  Super Bowl commercials for Doritos chips and the NFL itself. Finalists from Chevrolet's Super Bowl ad challenge were brought to Detroit to test drive the vehicles they were to promote -- and refine their stories with Chevy's advertising team.

The key is to have a commercial that is solid and funny. Super Bowl advertisers will pay as much as two-and-a-half million dollars for just 30 seconds. In 2010, Doritos is upping the ante. Instead of one commercial and a one million dollar prize, they are offering three "consumer" individuals or groups to develop (3) 30-second commercial spots. The top-prize winner will walk away with $ 1 million - second place will garner $600,00 - and third, $400,000. Then if the spots finish 1-2-3 in USA Today's Ad Meter polling, each will get a $1 million bonus.

Proximus Generation Movie Project was a crowd-sourced endeavor that some have called "Garage TV" in the ilk of the famous SNL "Wayne's World." It was a youth-oriented project that encouraged young consumers to become part of their TV ad that experienced a lot of airtime earlier this year. Their 'pitch' commercial was as follows...

And the finalized version accepted the work of 235 Belgium youngsters to play a role in this commercial.

So, is this downfall of Madison Avenue? Highly unlikely, as some agencies are joining the fold and actually leaning on consumers to add authenticity to some of their branded messages. However, this paradigm shift will continue to move forward toward more and more CGA as consumers gain additional control over the types of messaging they want broadcasted. In which case, Don Draper might want to take a few notes.