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Friday, September 14, 2007

Duke it out: UGC v Creative Industry

Murray and I visited the MN Executive Program yesterday to give a Fallon perspective on creativity. One of the attendees asked about how we are reacting to the changing media environment, and I caught Murray's response on tape. He said that he sees an imbalance in the marketplace today between user generated content and content produced by people who are paid to be creative. And he predicted an imminent leveling of those two.

What does everyone else think? Have a look at the clip (under a minute!) and hit us up with your take.


Charles Frith said...

Generalisms aside there are a billion different contextual arguments for both participatory media and professionally generated content. Its not quite a soundbite topic.

..well, you did ask.

salina said...

fair enough. but the point of this post is simply to stimulate conversation, so I encourage you to pick one of the arguments and give your thoughts.

avin said...

Also worth noting that UGC is in it's very early stages. So, as people watch what's out there- the good and the bad- I think we'll see the quality and creativity in it steadily increase. Agreed that most of it is not that great (now), but over time the quality stuff will start coming through more as people's expectations rise.

So the big challenge then for us as the so-called experts is to continually prove we're better- and worth the extra expense...which means the need to move beyond simply being "the guys who make ads" to true business partners who also bring a sound understanding of business issues is more urgent than ever.

maDe said...

Here's another are where agencies are missing the point. UGC shouldn't really be about actual creative, nor do I believe it should be looked at as something to put on TV, online, etc -- it really should be looked at as the best form of research ever.

As a planner, UGC is one of the tools I use most often. You can't pay for the type of insight that YouTube can offer in any other research methodology. It's 100% digital ethnography.

You can profile the types of people who are engaged in your brand, learn what areas are sticking to them, as well as identify areas that need help.

Planners should be using UGC as an input to the creative process. I think there is a huge opportunity to even use places like YouTube to test roughs and concepts. That medium doesn't demand video quality at all so it seems like an interesting place to do so.

Create something, see what happens. Take the insight and create something better. Repeat step 1.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

Users generate content. With or without our contest to make an ad, they create, they comment, they generate content.

The world is increasingly networked, and their participation and "UGC" is the engine that drives the network. Participation is the new reality, and certainly a new mandatory.

Unfortunately, all us ad types can only imagine "participation" as this tactic of holding another contest where we invite some kids to make a commercial interruption about our sandwich.

I think this shows a lack of imagination on our part.

What do agencies care to learn from people who are making a comment, a movie, a passalong, a blog post, a review, a recommendation about our brands? How do we care to participate with all this "ugc"? How may we harness all that "ugc"? How may we add value to this "ugc"?

People add vast amounts of value for us to learn from. Brands, too, must add value. And we must imagine another value to add besides variations on the commercial interruption.

And as with prior versions of our commercial interruptions thru the ages, we are proliferating our "ugc" ads to the point where it is becoming uninvited off the network. Because it doesn't add value. And on the network, users add value.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

Anothr thought that comes to mind is the recurring (5-year cycle) agency uproar over who is the rightful creator of the commercials. When I started in this biz, agencies were all in a tizzy about music video directors creating commercials, then celebrity movie directors creating the commercials, then clients directly creating commercials, then consultants and boutiques creating the commercials. Now we cry and whine about these untrained regular people creating our commercials. Next it'll follow the path of other forms of dying production and we'll complain about foreigners creating our commercials. The craft of commercial making a)is compacting and speeding up (just like all other forms of production-noone needs a million dollar handmade chair, they want a fast-produced, economical Ikea), and b)should be more about value added than means/method of production.

What agencies have failed to recongnize throughout each debate about who is the rightful owner of commercial creation is that people don't care about our commercial interruptions. They don't invite the commercials in, but rather, endure their intrusion like your in-laws over for a week - it's a system of polite acceptance because they had no control in the situation. That soon changes as the control shifts.

People plain don't care enough to ordain a rightful creator of the commercials, its all interruption to them..."ugc" was at least a temporary trojan horse that got invited in by the few who made it sorta relevant, but now that every trojan horse is being left at the door to come in, they're just leaving them there scattered over the lawn. While we fight about who should be making the commercials, the professional or the amateur? And the trojan horse commercials still proliferate on the lawn both shiny and roughhewn alike.

People seek added value to their experiences. Agency creatives need to add broader value beyond the trojan horse of commercials. People don't care who made them...they don't want them. Come bearing value. Not just gifts (whether shiny or roughhewn).

Herb said...

He's right...consumers are horrible at making 30 sec spots. Problem is, brand communication is no longer about the 30 sec spot.

Andy said...

a few top line thoughts:

1. The current landscape (the wiki-twitter-sphere, if you will) is now largely about experimentation, not finished things. An agency can't guarantee something going viral. It should be able to promise great entertainment, almost certainly more sophisticated than most ugc, but not necessarily more of a hit than a guy accidentally filming himself having an epileptic fit in time to the Polish national anthem.

2. We tend to focus on the output of UGC, whereas one of the most powerful things about it is not what is produced but the act of doing it and what that means to the individual. Reminds me of that idea that the most rewarding thing about drawing is not producing an accurate rendering but the effect it has on how we look.

3. I'm sure I had a 3, but it's gone.