Early in 2012, we did a three-part series on the infatuation marketers have with the specious “engagement” vehicle known as user-generated content (UGC). Our main critique was the derivative nature of all the “send in your photo or video of whatever” contests.
Yet even those who went out on a little limb made us scratch our collective head. For example, here is an excerpt from the winner of Nissan’s “Innovation” UGC contest:
“If we created a mechanism that worked on a gear and crank method and was easily recreated by local craftsman in developing world countries we could prevent bedsores and provide jobs.”
But you probably won’t sell any Nissans with it.
Anyway, this topic qualified for “best of 2012” because UGC went derivative to the exponential. In a manner of speaking, UGC went to the dogs.
Perhaps noting that nearly 75 million U.S. households have a (non-human) pet of some sort and spend around $50 billion a year on said critters, brands defaulted to a near-Mardi Gras cry: “Show Us Your Pets!”
Honeywell held a Twitter-based contest in which entrants were asked to take and Tweet a picture of their pet using its favorite “gadget.” Because Honeywell makes “gadgets.” Namely, fans and air purifiers, gadgets that pets play with all day long.
Grand prize? A $500 Target gift card. Big woof.
We won't hold our breath waiting for mention of the impact on Honeywell’s revenues during its next quarterly earnings call. Because there is no record of any winner any place on the Web.
In May, Kimpton Hotels held its SECOND ANNUAL pet photo contest. We have no idea why.
All you had to do was, um, submit a photo of your pet. We’d tell you who won, but here we are six months later, and the contest page only tells you that the contest is over.
Who cares who won? Apparently, Kimpton isn’t letting the dogs out.
These tired, lame attempts crowd out decent efforts like that of Morton Salt, which is running a contest that is relevant and valuable.
Relevant because Morton makes “Safe-T-Pet” ice melt that pets actually use, “safe” for their paws. Relevant also because Morton is donating money to the ASPCA for every photo submission and fan vote. Valuable because Morton is awarding various and meaningful levels of cash and prizes to the eleven top vote getters.
Morton’s only error was one we pointed out in our initial post – it is limiting the contest to Facebook access. The user experience there, as with most things on Facebook, simply blows.
Once again, we beg marketers to stop this nonsense. In 2013, go for quality, not quantity. Be original. On brand. And for God’s sake, make sure the contestants USE your product.
But, deep down, we know the annual Doritos “Crash The Super Bowl” amateur submit-your-Doritos-TV-spot contest is underway, and that five finalists will be announced at the turn of the new year. We have a sickening sense that at least one of them will be a spot that includes a dog or cat.
And just like we predicted last year, we’ll predict the winner of the 2013 Best Super Bowl Commercial here and now. The Doritos spot with the dog. UGG.