A corny UGC campaign

Doritos is running a series of TVCs in Australia to induce some User-Generated Content (UGC):

The others in the series are here, here and here.
I suggest that there are two types of UGC – Natural & Induced. Natural UGC is the spontaneous user response to a product or service that they love. This is the best form of UGC because:

Passionate users do what they do for the sheer joy of being associated with the brand, particularly if the brand publicly acknowledges them – consider the iPod touch or Star Wars.

Creators of Natural UGC are users who selflessly share their love for a product are entirely credible while advertisers are not.

.

By comparison, Induced UGC is what’s generated when companies seek UGC by offering inducements – prizes or offers of recognition. Given the benefits of Natural UGC, it’s clear to see why Induced UGC’s of interest to a corporation – it also allows for a sense of involvement, connection and collaboration between brand and user. There are problems, however with Induced UGC:

Credibility is lost the instant you offer a reward – love and money don’t mix well.

“Sheer joy” simply doesn’t apply to most products, in which case an Induced UGC campaign is probably a meatball sundae. (The solution isn’t to reverse engineer passion for your existing brand and products, it’s to make your brand and products worth being passionate about.)

Most Induced UGC campaigns attempt to have two bites of the cherry:

1) kudos from everyone (users and non-users) for running the campaign/competition, and?

2) kudos from the UGC generated.

I suspect that many campaigns would have more impact if the campaign was run privately with their tribe of customers and non-customers saw only the end result, the UGC?that invites them to join the tribe as well.

As for this Australian Doritos UGC campaign, I’m concerned that it’s likely to detract from the brand:

If marketers sell stories, selling the story of “we can’t think of a reason to buy Doritos – can you help us?” is dangerously poor. If Doritos marketers have identified that their 16-24 year old demographic wants ‘belongingness’, this is a call to belong to … nothing.

The all-too-common ad storyline of ‘ad people making an ad’ is self-indulgent – advertising creatives need to create stories that prospective customers relate to, not ones that remind them of bad days at the office. At the very least they could have made a TVC about teenagers making their own Doritos ad, selling both the competition and the bigger Doritos story in one hit.

Together this might explain why the Doritos UGC campaign is on TV -?you can buy TV time whereas on the internet (where 16-24 year olds are) you need to earn it (and you have to do a lot better than this).
No doubt this campaign is an attempt to replicate the response to the US Crash the Super Bowl Doritos campaign which this year promised “win $1 Million by taking down the ad pros with a Super Bowl commercial written, directed, and made by you”. It’s an audacious competition, aspirational prize and accordingly in 2007 it resulted in 2 million visitors to the Dorito website. The only problem is that even in 2007 the Super Bowl spot cost USD2.6M – the whole campaign probably cost $1.50 per website visit. Now in 2009 they’ve added a $1M prize – if your strategy is to pay people to turn up, you’ll need to increase the payments to sustain novelty until it’s no longer economically viable.
Buying yourself a tribe by Induced UGC or any other means is a short-term and unsustainable approach. Businesses need to take a much longer term view – cultivating a brand worth following, a tribe that follows it and ways for individuals in that tribe to share their love.