Football, User Ads, Frito-Lay and Chevrolet

TV commercials have long ago abandoned emphasizing functions and features, uses and benefits, even cues and sensations. Desperate for finding some new means to engage prospects with their clients’ offerings, it’s no wonder that The New York Times reports today about agencies experimenting with “user-generated” ads for airing during the next Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Glory for Amateurs With Video Cameras

I suppose we can trace the origins of the whole genre of experience back to The Blair Witch Project (the film itself, and its pre-show website). Just as postmodern theorists speak of a “socially-constructed reality”, businesses today are awash in attempts to gain stature by authentically constructing brand images. Having customers (or contestants in the case of Frito-Lay and Chevrolet) create ad copy, instead of the official “cultural creatives” on Madison Avenue, certainly has this aim.

It strikes me that the significant point here is that marketers and their agencies must become less involved in generating final content and more skilled at establishing enticing platforms for customer to stage their own content-creating experiences.

It’s already happening online of course. One of my favorite examples: the fan-created films in praise of Converse shoes at

But the best of breed my not be a platform for commercials (or short films), but of packaging copy. I’m referring of course to Jones Soda labels.

At first, this may strike some as an example of mass customization, but its not so much about allowing customers to create “mine” but “ours” through participation in a collective, collaborative, or contributive process that directly affects the final manufacturing output.