User-Generated Content is This Year’s Product Placement

Interesting Brandweek article with a great title. However lacking in substance, the coverage of The Next Big Idea conference in NYC netted out a few interesting quotes and perspectives.

It seems that whereas product placement and branded entertainment were the new darlings of the ad industry, this year’s debutante is user generated content, or UGC. (Personally, I prefer consumer generated content better. User sounds so…uncouth.)

Keynote speaker Karin Timpone, head of marketing at Yahoo! Media Group, pointed to the Shakira “Hips Don’t Lie” contest where consumers can send in theior clips of hip shaking to win a chance to see Shakira live in concert.

“Timpone credited the contest with vaulting the song back into the top 10, although when pressed, she was somewhat vague on specific details.”

Yeah, I can see the non-sequitor here. Why would entering a video contest lead to CD sales? Not sure.

“Timpone also mentioned how Yahoo!’s exclusive coverage of Howard Stern’s last day on terrestrial radio led to a 250,000 jump in subscribers (she said Yahoo! was able to determine that figure by tracking the paths of Web surfers…”

What’s so CGC…sorry, UGC…about this bit? How is exclusive coverage on a dominant portal a form of UGC? Not sure, but it must be a great selling quote for Karin.

Two quotes from the article did make sense:

“These days, whether you like UGC or not, you have to take part,” said panelist Helayna Minsk, director-marketing for Unilever, expressing a general sentiment among marketers present.

Though much of the focus of the conference was on UGC, Nick Law, executive creative director at agency R/GA in New York, held forth with a pox-on-both-your-houses attack on the ad industry for being irrationally attached to telling stories in the 30-second format. Law, who has worked on the Nike ID program that lets consumers design their own shoes, and a project for Purina that included Web sites aimed at pet owners with information on health issues, said the 30-second spot is “a spoke in the wheel” and the hub is interactive. He implored ad agencies to “stop selling scribbles” based on one big idea and instead present fleshed-out, 360-degree marketing plans.

Oh yeah. You better believe it. The ad is just a spoke. Maybe that should be The Next Big Idea. In fact, that is The BIG IDEA. When will Madison Avenue stop dating a new fad every two years and realize that it can only be happy by letting go of an outdated romance? The honyemoon, marriage and divorce is over, guys. Let go of the love affair for your 30 seconds. It’s time to start dating other spokes, folks.

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