In what might become a week-long series, today’s post looks at the fever-pitch topic of “content.” Almost as prevalent as articles about Facebook, Pinterest, and “The Five Reasons You Need A Social Media Strategy,” you can’t surf very far without tripping over flotsam like this, from the current issue of B2B Magazine: “Content Marketing Becoming Vital.” zzzzzzzz.
Our perspective for today’s post looks at our old friend, user-generated content, which we took to the woodshed back in January of 2010. The most ironic thing about UGC over these last three years or so is that marketers believe they’ve invented something.
As with other digital marketing “innovations,” they are wrong. Consumers have been submitting “content” to brands for a very, very long time. The fact that it can now be done digitally doesn’t delete history.
Consider this date – July 11, 1956. That’s when 25 families from across the U.S. descended on Disney’s new California theme park for a free week of fun. Among them were the Barstows, whose nutty dad recorded the whole thing on film.
They got there by entering a promotion for 3M Scotch tape (or as we would call it today, by SUBMITTING USER-GENERATED CONTENT). All contestants needed to do was submit an entry that paid off on this half sentence: “I like “SCOTCH” Brand Cellophane Tape because…”
Little four-year-old Danny Barstow won for writing the words above and those below on a big poster:
WHEN SOME THINGS TEAR THEN I CAN JUST USE IT.
Actually, he didn’t write it himself. But he did add “DANNY” in all mismatched letters at the bottom.
Hard to know why 3M selected Danny as a winner. Probably because the Barstow family of five submitted SIX entries, all in one big-ass box. (As proof of how consumers have always been more clever than marketers, the Barstows cashed in their FOUR first-class tickets for FIVE seats in coach.)
The interesting footnote, as you might know, is that Barstow the elder put together a 34-minute 31-second documentary of the whole story in 1995 (and devotes the first six minutes or so to the family’s Scotch Tape contest shenanigans – see the film here).
In 2008, the Library of Congress selected the film, titled Disneyland Dream, for special preservation. How’s that for user-generated content?
And here’s something you don’t see with today’s contests. To enter, you had to submit proof of purchase of a roll of tape. Multiply the Barstow’s SIX rolls by the alleged million entrants (0.6% of U.S. population at the time), and you’ve got some real “social media ROI.”
One wonders about little Danny now, perhaps a grandfather. And about Danny III. No doubt wailing away at his iPad all day, entering dopey contests left and right.