UGC Campaigns – Profits, Prizes and Pitfalls
Like a Lothario at a bar re-using his best pick-up lines, digital strategists continually fall back on the social media marketing campaign inviting consumer contributions as a YouTube video. In the past 6 months we’ve seen two massive Australian based UGC marketing campaigns; Doritos ‘You make it, we play it’ invitation for UGC commercials and Queensland Tourism’s ‘Best Job in the World’.
B&T reported backlash against the Doritos competition by applicants unable to submit their entries. The disgruntled vented upon their YouTube channel DoritosYouMakeIt, commenting like it was Britney Spears’ latest muffin top poppin escapade. The Gruen Transfer online forum was similarly inundated.
Community Girl questioned whether Doritos could have handled the situation better. I’m a firm believer in prevention over the cure. Like JetStar’s 5c sale-fail, you cannot cultivate demand and then fail to meet it. Its like prick-teasing, except in this case the virgin’s parents fitted her with a chastity belt. Doritos is bearing the brunt of their digital producers’ failure to meet demand. But the uproar does subtly indicate that the competition was wildly popular and increases Doritos’ exposure. Certainly can’t see it being any more harmful to a corn chip than the mono sodium glutamate its dusted with.
As a filmmaker, I’m naturally skeptical of these UGC campaigns taking advantage of upstarts desperate for a break. But I also love seeing unseen talent uncovered and nurtured. Its a mutually beneficial symbiosis, companies build a community and get content for next to nothing, users get the chance to showcase their skills.
We produced a short pilot that made it to the finals for Comedy Gold, Austar’s The Comedy Channel. As one of five finalists, we were invited to pitch our comedy series at the Screen Producer’s Association of Australia (SPAA) annual conference, paneled by Austar execs and HG Nelson. We didn’t win, but it was a helluva party, the contacts I made in 10 crazy hours alone were worth it.
I recently caught up with Darren Chau, Group Programming Manager for the Comedy Channel, to ask him what their objectives were for Comedy Gold. While most UGC campaigns are community building marketing exercises, Comedy Gold primarily aims to add new talent to The Comedy Channel’s stable. They have the option to produce the winner’s pitch and pilot into a series, although after two years of Comedy Gold, they’ve yet to produce a winning comedy. However, this is indicative of the mind-bendingly arduous development process more than their commitment to the winner’s series treatment.
Comedy Gold doesn’t attempt to build an online community or overtly market Austar or the channel. Twelve semi-finalists are picked out of the submissions by the judges, which are then available for users to view on the website. Votes determine the five finalists invited to pitch in front of an audience of producers at SPAA. You cannot comment on the videos or even see how many votes each has. It would seem obvious to use this competition as a marketing opportunity for Austar, but Darren told me that might taint the primary objective of Comedy Gold, to find untapped talent.
Does anyone think this is a noble idea or an idealistically short-sighted missed marketing opportunity? Sometimes underwhelming with a brand is the best branding exercise. Can anyone suggest how Comedy Gold could improve the competition and online component?