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POV: Are UGC Contests less creative?

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | October 05, 2010
Most advertisers are running plain vanilla user-generated-content (UGC) contests - in the name of engagement

Most advertisers are running plain vanilla user-generated-content (UGC) contests - in the name of engagement. Do advertisers and digital agencies lack the skill or intent to create interesting contests?

Girish Mahajan, Co-founder & Director, Webitude

The important point is that picture and video uploads or content submissions involving sharing and voting are basically processes that are used in any UGC activity execution. They are just a means to an end and not the end itself. UGC contests involving upload or voting are popular with advertisers, consumers and social media agencies as they are easy to execute and help brands to build recognition and visibility faster.

In case of UGC, a brand might need to go the extra mile to create an environment to facilitate users' creativity by providing examples, reference content or simple, do-it-yourself tools for them to exercise their creativity. Therefore, it is not the lack of skill or intention, but rather the 'nascent' nature of the medium that is resulting in low-on-creativity programmes.

Ashok Lalla, President, Digital, Euro RSCG

What has to be considered is not whether UGC contests are creative for the sake of being creative, but whether they are effective for the brand.

Many marketers and digital agencies are guilty of mistaking the medium as the idea. They feel that 'YouTube is an idea'. It isn't - it's just a means to an end. If everyone includes YouTube in the interaction plan, it is the idea that will make one brand's message stand out from the other.

The problem occurs when marketers and their digital agency partners mistake the Upload, share, video, comment tools and related apps to be their big idea. These are common tools that will apply to all interactivity. What turns the interactive from mere action to real engagement and involvement is the quality of the idea backing is.

Start with an idea that addresses a real consumer need or problem, wrap your brand around it appropriately and you may well have a successful campaign or contest.

Shubho Sengupta, Creative Head, Digital, Rediffusion Y&R

Everyone's playing safe because The Big 'O' hasn't happened yet. If you compare social advertising with TV, there's no uniquely Indian idiom. Till that happens, it'll be the tried-and-tested. Fortunately, the online audience is jaded with the tried-and-tested, and is desperate for the strange and new. And I can see that happening, though in small little islands like the Pink Chaddi campaign.

I feel sheer numbers - can only happen on mobile. Unless the stakeholders in digitally-driven agencies see the value of creative and get out of lip-service mode, I don't see much changing. The great thing is there's a bunch of kids out there who are furiously working on mobile apps for overseas clients. They will drive the change and Indian advertisers will sit up and take notice.

RP Singh, Business Director, Digital, GroupM

Consider the UGC-video called 'A hunter shoots a bear' floated by Tipp-Ex, a brand of correcting fluid. It shows a hunter who is surprised to see a bear appearing at his camp. As he gets ready to shoot, the video pauses and ask users to select if he should shoot it or not. The hunter picks up a can of Tipp-ex, blanks out the word 'Shoots' and asks the viewer to put in a word to choose the ending.

I am sure this video campaign is a result of deeper coordination of will and skill. In India, advertisers are using tried and tested models only to play safe. It is a result of a lack of "will and skill", but both can complement each other in driving innovative ideas. A client might drive his digital or social media agency up the wall to deliver a path-breaking UGC execution while the skill of an agency can motivate the advertiser to create will.

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