User content offers a new perspective

Including consumer generated media in campaigns not only helps brands generate buzz, but also gain insight into their target demographic.

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren't the only winners on Super Bowl Sunday this year. Two brothers from Indiana, Joe and Dave Herbert, won Doritos' “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, and their “Free Doritos” commercial aired during the game. But that wasn't all they won. When their ad hit number one in USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter, the brothers scored again, pocketing a $1 million bonus. A media frenzy ensued. Within 48 hours, the brothers had done more than 50 interviews for outlets including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Today, CNN, and USA Today.

“It's easily the best million dollars we ever spent,” says Chris Kuechenmeister, director of PR at Frito-Lay. “[CGM] is about... allowing consumers to have a say in how the brand is developed and expressed. It's a two-way dialogue – from the interaction, we get insights into what we're going to do next. It's fueling our direction for the brand.”

This was the third year for “Crash the Super Bowl,” and Doritos' AOR Ketchum helped with the campaign. Frito-Lay uses feedback forms with all CGM efforts, and Kuechenmeister says the company pays close attention to what consumers want. In fact, “Crash the Super Bowl” became an annual program because consumers liked it and asked that it continue (there were 2,000 entries this year, compared with 1,000 in 2007). The company also learns more about customers' interests by what they create and what they like best. Kuechenmeister notes that the first year revealed a passion for music, so last year's program had a music focus.

To spread the word about this year's contest, the team used a combination of traditional media relations, blogger outreach, and ads on social media sites. Everyone who submitted videos got a thank-you package that included T-shirts, hats, and coupons.

“We'll stay in touch by e-mail, social networking, phone calls,” Kuechenmeister says. “Any communication that takes place is about continuing to engage them with the brand and put the brand in their hands – it's not about selling a product.”
Unchartered territory
When “Crash the Super Bowl” started, big CGM campaigns were uncharted territory for Frito-Lay. Kuechenmeister says leadership was cautious, but excited about the opportunities CGM presented.

Jim Daniels, VP of marketing and sexual health at Church & Dwight Co., notes that executives at his companies were also excited but cautious about using CGM. Last fall, the company's Trojan brand launched “Evolve One, Evolve All,” an ex-tension of its ongoing sexual-health awareness effort “Evolve.” The program, created in partnership with MTV Networks Digital Fusion and AOR Edelman, calls for celebrities, musicians, filmmakers, artists, and consumers to create videos about sexual health that are posted on and pushed to other sites, like Comedy Central and MTV.

“It's very different to share your brand because you're used to controlling it and [having] one-way dialogue,” Daniels says.

He explains that CGM was a great choice for Trojan for several reasons. First, media restrictions on condom ads make it difficult for Trojan to reach more than half of its target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds. And, Daniels adds, many people are still unaware of the seriousness of disease and teen pregnancy issues, and have negative perceptions of condoms.

“When trying to change behavior, particularly in young adults, you want to empower people to deliver the message within their peer construct,” Daniels says. “We wanted to give [consumers] information [about sexual health] and allow them to talk about it.”

Daniels notes that Trojan recognizes that consumers can deliver “brilliant insights,” in addition to a level of authenticity that just can't come from a company.

The company spread word of the campaign through social media, “extensive” online advertising, blogger outreach, traditional media relations, and MTV pro-ducers conducted celebrity interviews at the Democratic National Convention and posted them on the campaign's Web site.

The team started by targeting artists to submit videos because they wanted a lot of high-quality content that could take off virally. Daniels adds that it also helps to give incentive to participate. For example, for every click on, Trojan donates condoms to people at risk for STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

There are certainly risks involved with using CGM. Daniels says it requires losing “a little control of your brand” and it's a lot of work to process the content. He adds that mistakes are sometimes made in deciding what content to push out where, but notes that it's easy to see when something isn't working and to correct it.
Seeing success
Overall, the campaign has been so successful that Trojan extended it through 2009. Daniels says research by Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic shows an increase in both brand favorability and positive perception of condom use since “Evolve One, Evolve All” launched.

“We measure everything and have a good sense of who's viewing what, where, what they like and don't like,” Daniels adds. “[Insights] inform content and media buys and help us tailor messages [by gender and race].”

Brad McCormick, EVP of US Digital at Porter Novelli, thinks CGM is a great way to create brand loyalists. He adds that allowing consumers to help define a brand indicates a brand's strength and confidence.

“It's a more sophisticated relationship between a brand and its audience,” McCormick says.
 As CGM matures, he sees opportunity in letting consumers “co-create” products or services. McCormick cites Dell's Ideastorm (not his client), which allows people to submit ideas to Dell on new products.

“CGM is blurring the lines between product and consumer... and marketer,” he adds.

Doritos partnered with Xbox 360 in 2007 on “Unlock Xbox,” a program that allowed consumers to submit game ideas. The winning game concept, “Doritos Dash of Destruction,” launched in December 2008, and Kuechenmeister says it's become the most downloaded Xbox LIVE game in history.

“We want to listen to the consumer and find out... what their passions are,” he adds. “Then we can find a way to help them achieve what's important in their life.”

Making CGM work for your brand

  • Listen to customers and develop programs tailored to their interests
  • Be flexible and open to possibilities and ways to expand programs
  • Include a value exchange, such as tying product donation to consumer
  • Be transparent when building programs and promoting them
  • Try and develop programs that are co-creative and increase the level of interaction with consumers

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in