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People are sharing their ads

October 29, 2007

An 18-year old Leeds University student named Nick Haley puts up an ad he did for Apple on YouTube four weeks ago. The first comment tells Nick that he should send it to Apple to make money.

On Sunday night, a professionally produced version by TBWA Chiat/Day run in the US during Desperate Housewives, Football and the World Series. I heard about the ad here, on a blog I like to read. John wonders if we should still think users generating content (or CGC — meaning consumers) or whatever you want to call it is a joke.

If your first thought is holy crap Apple found this ad, asked Chiat to freshen it up (imagine that meeting) and asks them to buy a couple of big-time shows, then you’re right to be worried. The initial thought is that the Agency Client dynamic has more or less been thrown on its head. The talk will be about Consumers Generating Content.

Except, maybe that isn’t the take from this.

Imagine you’re the agency for Apple. And further image that someone in the agency is monitoring everything they possibly can (including YouTube videos with iPod, Apple, iPhone, etc). Now imagine that the AE finds this nice little movie by a guy from Leeds. After checking on a map to see where Leeds is, they pay him like a freelancer. But they use the story.

Because the back-story is the only reason this ad is getting play. Without the back-story on the first two paragraphs, this ad falls into the advertising ether.

It’s not special or memorable. It’s got a nice tune, and some decent effects, but after seeing it, you’re not thinking this guy is the second coming of Alex Bogusky.

And that’s the point. We’re still working out this whole CGC thing. When a consumer shares their ad with the world on YouTube, we, the agency, have two options:

1. Run away screaming the sky is falling.

2. Pounce. Get a head of it by telling your client about it. According to the New York Times, this isn’t the way it went down at Chiat/Day. And that probably doesn’t leave a good impression in the minds of the Apple Brand Manager.

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