User-Generated Ads Hit the Super Bowl

During this Sunday's Super Bowl, several major advertisers have turned to consumers to help create spots that will run during the game. These ads, made by regular folks, are just the latest permutation of a media craze known as "user-generated content."

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

On Sunday, advertisers like GM and Pepsi will pay $5 million a minute for commercials on the Super Bowl. So how to cut costs? Try hiring amateur filmmakers.

As DAY TO DAY's Steve Proffitt reports, this is the latest in the craze called user-generated content.

STEVE PROFFITT: Yes, user-generated content, or UGC between you and me. It's the DNA of YouTube, reality TV and the blogosphere. So it was perhaps inevitable that advertisers would pick up on the trend.

(Soundbite Doritos commercial)

(Soundbite of someone knocking on a door)

Unidentified Man #1: Dude, you ready to go?

(Soundbite of ripping sound)

PROFFITT: For its Super Bowl ads, PepsiCo-owned Doritos held a contest and invited consumers to produce their own full-fledged spots for the popular snack. In this one, chosen as one of the five finalists, a guy is shown wrapping his bag of Doritos in layers and layers of duct tape.

(Soundbite Doritos commercial)

(Soundbite of crackling sound)

Unidentified Man #2: Man, what's up with the tape?

Unidentified Man #3: Got to keep the roommate off my Doritos.

PROFFITT: As he walks out of his apartment, we see that roommate - duct taped to the back of the door.

(Soundbite Doritos commercial)

(Soundbite of banging sound)

Unidentified Man #3: Lawrence? (unintelligible)

PROFFITT: This spot and the other four Doritos finalists look great. They're well shot, well cast, excellently produced. Contrast that with something you might see on YouTube.

(Soundbite of YouTube Video)

Unidentified Woman #1: Oh, my God.

Unidentified Woman #2: Okay. Her hair's in toilet.

PROFFITT: In fact, they look just like something an ad agency might deliver, notes Rick Mathieson, author of "Branding Unbound."

Mr. RICK MATHIESON (Author, "Branding Unbound"): It's ironic because the people who actually end up winning these things are the people who would probably could build careers on advertising if they aren't already.

PROFFITT: And when the NFL invited fans to submit pitches for an ad the football league will run during the game, they picked one from this guy.

(Soundbite of amateur ad submitted to NFL)

Mr. GINO BONA: (Singing) How do I say goodbye?

PROFFITT: Gino Bona is a football fan from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Mr. BONA: Then you see a slow-mo montage of that music's going to the whole bench.

PROFFITT: Mr. Bona's idea is intriguing, and his pitch was great. It should be since he is, by profession, a marketing specialist. Choosing user-generated ads that don't look too user-generated probably is smart, says public relations executive Frank Shaw.

Mr. FRANK SHAW (Public Relations Executive): You want people to remember the ad and the product that it's representing. Or do you want people to remember that it was user-generated?

PROFFITT: There's no doubt that the made-by-a-regular person label provides marketers with a way to build interest in their ads that will exist outside the 30 seconds that the spots run.

But some advertisers admit the whole idea of this new, cool era of user-generated advertising is - like much of traditional advertising - just a bunch of hype.

Mr. NORMAN HAYSHAR(ph) (Executive, Young and Rubicam): This label - user-generated content - is new. But the concept dates back to the origins of advertising in general. It's as old as advertising in itself.

PROFFITT: Norman Hayshar is an executive at the ad agency Young and Rubicam. He says things like testimonials are very familiar forms of user-generated advertising. Jingle contests, he notes, were mainstays of the 1940s and '50s ad campaigns. And in fact, for this year's Super Bowl…

(Soundbite of Alka-Seltzer commercial)

Unidentified Woman #3: (Singing) Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…

PROFFITT: Alka-Seltzer held a jingle contest. Here's the winning entry.

(Soundbite of Alka-Seltzer commercial)

Unidentified Man #5: (Singing) Didn't need two angels to fall into this cup. The hot wings that I had today just want to come back up. We're not…

PROFFITT: Young and Rubicam's Norman Hayshar says the current mania for user-generated ads is the result of two very popular things: the Web site YouTube and the TV show, "American Idol."

Mr. HAYSHAR: Mix these two things together, and what you've really got is a sort of the creative power to the people movement that is reflected as it always is in the culture by advertising.

PROFFITT: And while regular Janes and Joes making ads may be the hot thing this Super Bowl Sunday, the culture moves quickly. Most ad industry insiders think that by the time Super Bowl XLII rolls around, the idea of user-generated content will just seem so…

(Soundbite of Alka-Seltzer commercial)

Unidentified Woman #3: (Singing) Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is.

PROFFITT: Steve Proffitt, NPR News.

Unidentified Woman #3: (Singing) …relief it is. What a relief.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: