Recently, I was given the chance to sit in with, what must be, the world’s who’s who of advertising and marketing as they decide on which co-created entry from our recent Coke contest should be showcased at Spikes Asia and eventually sent to Cannes.
The panel of judges was asked to look at the best entries that we have shortlisted from the Coke contest and agree on the best work in each category (Video/Animation, Photography and Illustration). The judging criteria for these works were opened for discussion, as they were not the conventional advertisements submitted by advertising agencies. The question up for debate was whether the judging criteria for professional entries apply to consumer created content?
The crux of the issue is whether the quality of execution should matter as much as the idea. To be sure, the quality of the entries was excellent and really took our breath away, but at the same time there were entries with brilliant ideas but the execution was slightly lacking.
This triggered an interesting debate: For whom are advertisements made for? If it was made for the consumer, then should we not ask the consumer to be the judge, because after-all, as a judge quipped, “advertisements are not created to make creative directors fall off their chairs”. Today consumers willingly express their love for brands by creating branded content by themselves. They might design a new product they feel a brand should have, complete with new packaging and advertisements to boot.
Apple fans as we know are the most typical example, as we can see from this old ad for the iPod Touch that a fan made himself on his MacBook when the iPod Touch was announced.
This ad was so well received online that Apple took notice and ran it as its official advertisement after retouching it with the help of the original creator.
We can see that the role of consumers has indeed evolved over time, from passive receiver of information and content created by brands and their agencies, to become an increasingly important part of the creative process. For example, if a brand wants to portray itself as a brand for mature audiences, but a younger audience appears to love it and even create hypothetical branded products that better appeal to them, instead of seeing this as “damaging to the brand image”, brands could see an untapped opportunity to capture a new target audience and embrace it.
Throughout the judging panel, I had the feeling that agencies could become curators and directors, to harness consumer ideas (from all over the world) and transform them into campaign ideas. The role of the agency would then be to ensure that there is a strong idea, no matter where it comes from and to create campaigns that allow the consumer to play a bigger creative role.
The parting thought from this eventful day questions the evolving relationship between brands, agencies and consumers and how they will now work together in this new environment.