Doritos is the current undisputed king of user generated content. For nine years now, they’ve been running an annual contest, inviting their fans from all around the world to create a funny, clever 30 second commercial about their chips. The two best ones make it onto TV during the Super Bowl, where they’ll be seen by over a hundred million viewers.
If you’ve never made a commercial, take it from us: it’s a lot of work. You have to come up with a concept, create a script, figure out how you’re going to film the whole thing, round up a bunch of people, and, if luck is with you and the stars are all aligned perfectly, it’ll all come out great on the first take. It’s far more likely that more than one take will be required, and you’re probably going to spend a few hours editing the whole thing – like we said, a ton of work.
So why are Dorito’s fans so eager to make commercials for them for free? Let’s get the most cynical interpretation out of the way first: it is true that a sizeable percentage of Doritos commercials are created by aspiring creatives who would absolutely love to attract the attention of a major agency. That being said, what explains everybody else’s efforts?
The way customers think about brands has really, really changed. Unlike previous generations, where a company’s brand was a sort of disembodied marketing asset, today’s customers want brands they can have relationships with. They want to interact and engage with the brands they like most. They want brands that can be their friends.
What do you do when you want someone to be your friend? You talk to them. You say nice things about them. And, when the occasion presents itself, you give your friend gifts. When a fan creates a commercial, a graphic, a poem, a song or any other piece of creative content for a brand they love, it’s absolutely a quid pro quo relationship – but the compensation they’re looking for isn’t necessarily financial. Instead, fans are often searching for acknowledgement, attention, and maybe even some level of affection from their favorite brands. All of these are easy to provide – and cost you nothing except some time and effort.
Look for opportunities for your brand’s fans to share their love of you, with you. Obviously Super Bowl commercial airtime is beyond most of our budgets, but you can share videos your fans create on your website or social media. Be open to inviting other types of content as well. The world is full of aspiring poets, essay writers, artists, and musicians. Give them a stage to perform on, and they’ll thank you for it. Just make sure your invitation to share includes language that makes your intentions to share and redistribute the content very clear. That way, everybody’s happy!