Is the “Exclusivity of Creativity” coming to an end?

Doritos Consumer Generated Media

For the past century, there has been an “exclusivity of creativity” in the world of marketing.  For great advertising, Brand Managers only had one place to turn – Madison Avenue.

But something remarkable happened over the Super Bowl this year that put the “exclusivity of creativity” at risk.  For the third year in a row, Doritos ran a Consumer Generated Media contest for fans to make their ad.  Interesting idea but nothing breakthrough.

But then they added a twist.

If the winning ad was also #1 in the USA Today Ad Meter, then the person would win $1 million.  This would mean that the ad would have to beat ads from Coca-Cola, Budweiser and a host of other top brands.  It would have to beat ads that were the best Madison Avenue had to offer…ads that literally cost millions of dollars to create.

And you know what happened?  It did just that.  An “amateur” from Muncie, Indiana beat out the professionals.  If we look back 10 years from now, I think that is going to mean something.

I think it just might mean the end of the “Exclusivity of Creativity” that has dominated the brand marketing landscape for all these years.

Comments

  1. says

    Its a great story, and should be cause for discussion. But I think that the contest worked precisely because Doritos IS such a strong brand, built carefully over the years, and this was such a departure for them. Creatives are also competing with sites like Crowdspring, where you can get a logo and corporate id for under $500. Without a brand identity, is it just a pretty picture? I suppose the answer is " it depends." For instance, many of my clients are small start-ups, in order to have staying power, they are going to need to build a brand identity that is consistent. Otherwise people will just be confused about who they are and what they offer. Your thoughts?

    • says

      Nancy – I'd agree completely that it worked because of the brand identity of Doritos. The flaw of consumer generated advertising is that it can be completely off-equity and not in line with what the brand wants to stand for. For Doritos, I think they stand for fun and slight rebellion. Thus, the spot worked because it was on equity. So agree completely. You cant just throw a brand out there and hope for good work. It takes direction, guidance and thought. Its about having a Brand Leader instead of a Brand Manager…

  2. says

    C'mon, Dave. Madison Avenue is the only place to get great ad work? Unfortunately, that mentality has held big brands back for a long time and kept some very talented agencies from helping them. Sure, your chances of working with big-brand experienced firms are better there, but that's like saying, "If your lawyer isn't a Harvard Law grad, you may as well settle out of court or turn yourself in."

    With no regard or reference to my own agency (I'll defend all the others as well), I think it would be good for big brand managers who might read your post to note that 95% of the country doesn't live on either coast. If you want to sell to middle America, you might want to consider an agency that knows your target. Not to demean or diminish the work of great ad agencies on Madison Avenue, but if that's the only place brand managers feel they have to turn for creativity, then brand managers are doing a very good job of knowing what's out there.

    Two cents from an admitted non-Madison Avenue firm employee. Heh.

    • says

      Jason – So I think me using the Madison Ave caused you to miss my point so apologies on that. I'm a firm believer that some of the best work in advertising isn't coming from Madison Ave. It's coming from Portland with W&K, Miami/Colorado with Crispin, Louisville with you guys and even Muncie, Indiana with this consumer. Using the words Madison Ave were not meant to imply a Harvard Law Degree. It was meant to imply the old world of advertising where great marketing meant spending millions of dollars on a retainer, hundreds of thousands of dollars on producing a spot, and millions of dollars on blasting that TV ad across the airwaves. That is the “Exclusivity of Creativity.” My point is that brands today need to tap into the creativity, wisdom and enthusiasm of the masses. Its just like what you are helping Maker's do with the ambassador program. Instead of spending all that money producing a “pretty TV spot”, you are investing in the experience around the brand. So my point was that great work can come from anywhere these days…not just from a “creative” living in Manhattan who thinks the Midwest is that thing they fly over when going to LA.

  3. says

    "If we look back 10 years from now, I think that is going to mean something." Gimme a break. So an amateur beat the pros…wow, someone call Ripley's. Look, and I am someone in advertising, I thought for the most part, all the spots sucked this year. So that needs to be factored into any equation. The Doritos spot was funny, cute but beyond that? No, nothing remarkable and certainly nothing memorable.

    And "For great advertising, Brand Managers only had one place to turn – Madison Avenue." ????

    I sincerely hope you were using the term Madison Avenue as a euphemism for ALL ad agencies and you were NOT being literal. There are hundreds upon hundreds of indy agencies who despise Madison Avenue that can creative circles around their espresso-maker in every office, 3-hour power lunch-taking brethren.

    If you were going for the shock value, congratulations, You succeeded. Unfortunately it's the only thing you succeeded at.

  4. says

    Good clarification, and I figured that might be what you were doing. I guess from the non-NYC agency perspective, there has always existed a bias from big brands (P&G not excluded) for the Ogilvy's and Sacchi's of the world. Not that those guys don't deserve it … they're good. But as you allude, great ideas can come from anywhere and fresh thinking in Milwaukee, Cheyenne, Birmingham or wherever is fresh thinking. I guess we're just sensitive to it since we've seen our work deliver for clients, big and small, then wonder why the same five firms get the RFPs.

    I realize I'm preaching to the choir a bit. I just think the allusion might twist a few noses because the big brand bias is real.

  5. says

    Steve – First off, yes I was using the term Madison Ave as an euphemism for all traditional ad agencies. And thank you for reinforcing my point that there are hundreds of indy agencies out there doing great work that dont require huge retainers or production budgets. Now, I have to say that I think you are completely off base when you say its no big deal that an amateur beat the “pros.” Last I checked, the definition of a professional is someone “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain.” This amateur just made $1 million for his work. That's more than I have ever made in my occupation/career as a marketer. In today's open world, brilliant work can come from anywhere in the country. A so-called amateur can become a professional with one piece of work. Frankly I think I succeeded at what I wanted. To get people talking about the fact that creativity can come from anywhere. If you disagree with that point, feel free to add to the debate.

  6. says

    Do advertising agencies have a monopoly on creativity? No. Can the great unheralded masses of creatives working outside the agency system take full credit for the success of this campaign? Also, NO.

    The CrashTheSuperBowl.com site has a Page Rank of 5 and a quarter million monthly unique visitors–and that cost money to get done. User-generated content is a function of audience size, and to get an audience big enough to produce not only submissions, but *enough* submitted videos that Doritos could pick a good one took lots of traditional promotions and public relations. Also, an ad agency–Goodby Silverstein–designed this campaign, and have been building up to this for over two years with the SnackStrongProductions site and community.

    My point being, this was not an overnight success, cheaply done, or separate from the agency system. This was a long, slow, smart, expensive brand play from a savvy brand agency. Yes, letting the consumer speak, and letting that speech shape your brand messaging can be wise, but I'm always leery of any analysis of this process that even slightly implies you can ditch your agency and just let your customers do all the heavy lifting. It doesn't work that way.

    • says

      Jay – Great points. A brilliant marketing branding campaign by nature cannot be an overnight success. It must be a long, slow brand play to build the message. SnackStrongProductions did just that and its what makes the campaign a success vs a one time play.The challenge is for more agencies to think about how they can enroll consumers and brand fans into the process. Can you take your branding campaign and encourage consumers to play off of it? I'd argue that is exactly what Doritos did.CGM doesnt work if you just toss it out to the masses and hope for success. Plenty of brands have flamed out trying to do that. Just look at the latest from Bob Evans (http://www.boburrito.com) for a prime example of thatDave

    • says

      Jay – Great points. A brilliant marketing branding campaign by nature cannot be an overnight success. It must be a long, slow brand play to build the message. SnackStrongProductions did just that and its what makes the campaign a success vs a one time play.The challenge is for more agencies to think about how they can enroll consumers and brand fans into the process. Can you take your branding campaign and encourage consumers to play off of it? I'd argue that is exactly what Doritos did.CGM doesnt work if you just toss it out to the masses and hope for success. Plenty of brands have flamed out trying to do that. Just look at the latest from Bob Evans (http://www.boburrito.com) for a prime example of thatDave

    • says

      Jay – Great points. A brilliant marketing branding campaign by nature cannot be an overnight success. It must be a long, slow brand play to build the message. SnackStrongProductions did just that and its what makes the campaign a success vs a one time play.The challenge is for more agencies to think about how they can enroll consumers and brand fans into the process. Can you take your branding campaign and encourage consumers to play off of it? I'd argue that is exactly what Doritos did.CGM doesnt work if you just toss it out to the masses and hope for success. Plenty of brands have flamed out trying to do that. Just look at the latest from Bob Evans (http://www.boburrito.com) for a prime example of thatDave

    • says

      Jay – Great points. A brilliant marketing branding campaign by nature cannot be an overnight success. It must be a long, slow brand play to build the message. SnackStrongProductions did just that and its what makes the campaign a success vs a one time play.The challenge is for more agencies to think about how they can enroll consumers and brand fans into the process. Can you take your branding campaign and encourage consumers to play off of it? I'd argue that is exactly what Doritos did.CGM doesnt work if you just toss it out to the masses and hope for success. Plenty of brands have flamed out trying to do that. Just look at the latest from Bob Evans (http://www.boburrito.com) for a prime example of thatDave

  7. says

    Hi Dave, well you have succeeded in starting an interesting discussion/debate so kudos for that. As for my "no big deal" comment, I should have elaborated but alas my mother (nature that is) was calling and stall #2 was calling my name. But I digress.

    The context in which I made that statement was in reference to the fact that most, if not all, of the spots were not very good, AKA, I'm not surprised an amateur won. And by no means am I making light of the fact that they won a mil… hardly. One last thing to consider: The USA Ad Meter is comprised of 288 people and what spots they liked. I dont know how they arrived at such a low number but 288 hardly seems like a valid test size now does it?

    Finally, totally agree with your assessment that "creativity can come from anywhere." I've been preaching that for years but I always speak in bigger terms meaning I think ALL of us are creative. It's just that creativity manifests itself differently in some than it does it others.

    Find a new way to work? Well guess what, that's creative. See my point?

    Thanks Dave and great post, certainly got my juices going today!
    Steve O

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