The growing popularity of consumer-created ads has created a market for co-creation intermediaries. Gaurav Bhalla takes a closer look…

The exclusive use of consumer-created ads by Doritos (Frito Lay) during the recently concluded Super Bowl XLV is symptomatic of its status at most large companies today.  UGC (user-generated content, an umbrella term for all consumer created material, including ads) has crossed the chasm and is considered a core business process at most companies using it.

Two factors support this point of view.

  • First, the amount of effort – structure, rigor, and resources – to create, select, and air ads has increased significantly, at some of the more established players like Frito Lay.
  • Second, intermediaries like MOFILM have grown in recent years, to enable implementation at companies that would like to leverage UGC, but are unwilling to invest in their own proprietary structures, knowledge, or both.

Consider first the effort factor.  A brief description of the platforms and processes deployed by Doritos and Pepsi Max to create the commercials that were aired during Super Bowl XLV follows:

  • A dedicated website invited ad submissions from Doritos and Pepsi Max fans in the second half of 2010.
  • Details regarding the prize money and the airing of the commercials were explained and presented on the landing page itself.  Both Frito Lay and Pepsi recognize the power of prize money, and correctly so.  The 2011 edition promised $25,000 to the five finalists for each brand, and airing of the commercial for the top 3 for each brand (a total of six).
  • In addition, they also promised additional monetary incentives for winning the USA Today Ad Meter contest; $1 million to the winner, $600,000 for second place, $400,000 for third place, and an additional $1million to all three winners if the two sponsors swept the top 3 spots.
  • All contest rules were clearly explained, including the format of the submissions, the number of submissions per person, and the submission deadline.
  • Finally, judging criteria, selection of finalists, and voting procedures to determine which ads get aired were also painstakingly explained.

But, what if a company lacks, or is unwilling to invest in, the formal structure, resources, and/or knowledge to implement programs or contests for developing consumer-created ads?  That’s where organizations like MOFILM come in; co-creation intermediaries.

MOFILM is a platform company; a market place for co-creating video content, much as TopCoder is a market place for co-creating software design and development.  It helps large brands and social causes recruit the services of creative and passionate people from around the globe to create video and film content for a variety of applications and devices, including mobile devices.  The company usually stages its global competitions to coincide with world-renowned international film festivals, like New York, Cannes Lions, and London Film Festival.   The organization enjoys the support of heavyweights from the world of cinema; celebrities like Robert Redford and Spike Lee.

Even a cursory look at their clients – Axe, Lego, Hindustan Times, Persil, OMO, Haagen-Dazs, Nokia, Surf – suggests that UGC has crossed the chasm from being the sole preserve of a few companies tinkering at the fringes.  Consumer-created ads are a core business practice for a large number of companies.  And their numbers are growing every day.

About the author:

Gaurav Bhalla is a strategy, innovation, and marketing professional with global experience, having worked on three continents and with companies in over 20 countries. He is also owner and CEO of Knowledge Kinetics. The company focuses on the practice of customer-driven innovation and value co-creation.Gaurav previously was the Global Innovation Director, at Kantar-TNS, one of the world’s largest market information and insight companies. Additionally, he held positions in corporate strategy, brand management, sales management, and market research at companies such as Nestle, Richardson Vicks, and Burke.

Dr. Bhalla holds a BA (Hons.) degree in Economics and Mathematics from Delhi University, an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a PhD in Business from the University of Kansas. He has published research papers in leading technical journals dedicated to marketing, marketing research and statistics, and has presented before professional and academic societies in the USA and abroad. Dr. Bhalla has also served as an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He is currently associated with the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business as a member of the Department of Marketing’s Corporate Advisory Board.