Thursday, May 11, 2006

Marketers Embrace User-Generated TV Commercials

Marketers Embrace User-Generated TV Commercials
New York Times
Ad agencies beware: major marketers are beginning to embrace user-created content in their marketing plans. The latest to join the trend is Sony Electronic, which will soon run a TV spot created by a 19-year-old from Minneapolis who won a contest the marketer sponsored on cable network Current TV. The contest, which asked viewers to create their own TV commercial for Sony, drew dozens of entries. "User-generated content is sort of the word of the day," said Anne Zehren, the president of sales and marketing for Current TV, which was started last August. "And I think smart marketers will start harnessing that." Sony is not alone. In coming weeks, user-generated ads for companies like L'Oréal and Toyota will also run on Current TV, and several other companies have experimented with it in the past, often successfully. For example, the athletic shoe marketer Converse solicited homemade videos that depicted Converse owners with their sneakers, which the company turned into ads. The videos became an Internet hit after Converse posted them on its Web site. Also, MasterCard introduced a Web site, where consumers were asked to write advertising copy for two commercials, ending with the kicker, "Priceless," from their long-running ad campaign. Mike Fasulo, CMO for Sony Electronics, said consumers were demanding that marketers allow them to define brands on their own terms. "The trick is that you have to let go," he said. "We're used to dictating our messages and we're used to being in control."

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