Is User Generated Content the New Campaign Standard?

terminateyourselfTwo recent movie promotional campaigns do a great job combining the storyline, user photos and content (not to mention the ability to share that content easily on networks like Facebook).  They’re fun, easy to use and engage the user in more than just an online impression.  Has this become the new standard for interactive marketing?

First, the site Terminate Yourself (http://www.terminateyourself.com) promotes the new Terminator Salvation coming out on May 21.  The site allows you to upload a picture (or take one via webcam on the spot, which I think is the best part) and then customize the “damage” to yield a photo.  Simple, effective, and potentially viral.  What is intriguing is a lack of big corporate sponsorship, unlike the Star Trek Counterpart.

Star Trek’s marketing team partners with Cheez-It to deliver Trek Yourself (http://www.trekyourself.com).  While more feature rich, it can take time to load and process making it slightly more cumbersome.  After uploading a picture, you select a character, a soundbite (custom text allowed, which is pretty slick), and a background, and you’ve got a moving, living image you can embed anywhere.  I’d say this site is much more robust than the first example, but both are good at accomplishing promotional goals and leveraging user generated content to drive results.

As an agency, we’ve done work on these campaigns in the past (most recently for client Nationwide on the Sanjaya-ize Me site).  They can be fun, effective ways of engaging people online and can have at least a good shot of creating viral success.  I think the Simpsons site is still the best example out there though.  What do you think?  Have any other good examples that get the concept right? (For those reading via feed, please click through to see the example).

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  • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

    Mr. Potato Head was always more fun to play with than stuffed animals. Or, in digital land, The Sims vs Myst. Give a person the ability to create rather than go along with a pre-configured standard and you get more smiles and bouncy eyeballs.

    I am not a fan of these new widgets, like your cheesy one above, that start speaking by default. I had music playing in another window, and had to pause that when your cheeseball started to speak. Or was it the Terminator? Something started speaking without my giving it permission! That’s bad.

  • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

    Mr. Potato Head was always more fun to play with than stuffed animals. Or, in digital land, The Sims vs Myst. Give a person the ability to create rather than go along with a pre-configured standard and you get more smiles and bouncy eyeballs.

    I am not a fan of these new widgets, like your cheesy one above, that start speaking by default. I had music playing in another window, and had to pause that when your cheeseball started to speak. Or was it the Terminator? Something started speaking without my giving it permission! That’s bad.

  • http://www.jonbishop.org/ Jon Bishop

    Personalization and interactivity are definitely great ways to help content go viral. Basically, any unique form of engagement that can keep people busy for a couple minutes is usually worth passing on to their friends.

    It seems the “elf yourself” model is getting quite popular. I think this and “variable video” will be key methods of engaging users in marketing campaigns for awhile until something more engaging and personalized comes along.

  • http://www.jonbishop.org Jon Bishop

    Personalization and interactivity are definitely great ways to help content go viral. Basically, any unique form of engagement that can keep people busy for a couple minutes is usually worth passing on to their friends.

    It seems the “elf yourself” model is getting quite popular. I think this and “variable video” will be key methods of engaging users in marketing campaigns for awhile until something more engaging and personalized comes along.

  • Pingback: They need YOU. Great brands personalize. | GR8BR&: Holistic Branding

  • http://adamhcohen.com adamcohen

    Ari – I hear you, I wish there was an option to turn off autoplay on this one. I need to check my template and perhaps but that content in an extended body section of the post, at least.

    Jon – I agree, the “elf yourself” model seems to be picking up steam – I think this type of campaign is no longer considered as risky/innovative as it once was. The “engage for a few minutes” for fun or something valuable is better than a display ad still.

  • adam

    Ari – I hear you, I wish there was an option to turn off autoplay on this one. I need to check my template and perhaps but that content in an extended body section of the post, at least.

    Jon – I agree, the “elf yourself” model seems to be picking up steam – I think this type of campaign is no longer considered as risky/innovative as it once was. The “engage for a few minutes” for fun or something valuable is better than a display ad still.