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September 3, 2015

User-generated ads not such a great idea after all

by Anna Johns, posted May 27th 2007 9:52AM
heinzHeinz ketchup is running a contest where it is asking regular folks to make a Heinz commercial for the chance of winning $57,000. Only, it's not going very well.

According to an article in The New York Times, running the contest takes about as much time and energy as it would just to come up with their own damn ad campaign. So far, Heinz has rejected more than 300 submissions because they're too long, pointless, or gross. You can see many of the horrible submissions on YouTube, including this one of a guy brushing his teeth and shaving with ketchup. Ew.

Heinz has also become the target of angry commenters who accuse the company of being "lazy" and "cheap" for asking people to do advertising for free. I have to admit that I bristled when I saw ads for the contest. Even though it turns out Heinz is still paying a lot for the advertising, I'm still annoyed that it is asking people to essentially create a viral video for them.

How do you feel about companies like Doritos, Heinz and Dodge holding this user-generated advertising contests?

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Allan Hill

I’m not at all pleased with The Heinz contest. A lot of people could be disappointed if they don’t win, and could claim the same thing. However, read on – I doubt that I’m the only one who had this happen:

Be sure to see the entry at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8uWEzfXDvI,
then read on.

Received from Heinz:

Dear Person Deemed the Entrant,

We must regretfully inform you that your commercial submission to the Heinz Top This TV Challenge has been rejected because you did one or more things that our lawyers said you couldn’t do. They’re listed in the Official Rules. But here are the no-nos we see most:

• The commercial isn’t 30 seconds, and nothing ticks off the TV network guys like an ad that’s too long or too short.

• The commercial contains “copyrighted material”—stuff like music or video that somebody else created and/or owns.

• The commercial contains inappropriate content that your mother may not like and we can’t show on TV.

• The commercial contains another company’s name, trademark or logo.

“Entrant” (me) says:

1. You can see “:30” clearly on the YouTube display;
2. Absolutely no copyrighted material is in the video – the soundtrack was performed specifically for the video, is entirely original, and I have permissions/release for it – just like the Official Rules want (how else could the soundtrack perfectly match the action?);
3. Inappropriate material?
4. Absolutely no logos, etc. appear except for Heinz’s! Look hard - there is absolutely nothing else to be seen that resembles a trademark, etc.

Now, one word comes to mind when I think Heinz: BOGUS! Someone else has suggested “lazy” as an operative word.

August 15 2007 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Consumer-generated commercials are a good thing, right? I did a spot for Heinz that explores this issue. Check it out and you'll see if we should leave commercials up to the professionals?


August 07 2007 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dove did this too, but the Dove ad came off nicely and seems like a regular one.

Dove the soap people and not the chocolate.

May 27 2007 at 11:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If it's a contest and you win not only a ketchup for life but also, say a large sum of money and/or the opportunity to work with an ad agency or be in a ketchup commercial or something, then why not?
Then again... Ugh, commercialism!

May 27 2007 at 7:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No different than jingle contests of days of yore, 50+ years ago.

I only use organic catsup because I don't care to eat high fructose corn syrup; so they can run all the ads they want and never sell to me.

May 27 2007 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We would anyone hate this idea. It's completely harmless, it saves us from horrible advertising campaigns spawned from focus groups and over priced ad firms, and it gets people to create.

Where is the problem? How could anyone rag on anyone for doing this sort of thing? This is the only possible approach at advertising in general that makes me even want to watch a commercial. I want to see what someone came up with.

May 27 2007 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

John Kerry badgered Theresa into doing this. If it works, he's going to try the same for his '08 campaign.

May 27 2007 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it's a great idea. And it always kills me when these companies are accused of being lazy or of having run out of ideas when they hold these contests. It's not like they fired their advertising agency and said "well, let's just see what anyone sitting at home can come up with". This whole ideas was concocted by their advertising agency.

You're Heinz ketchup. There's practically nothing you can do that can get you "buzz". It's not like beer where you can come up with the craziest stuff. It's ketchup. (or Doritos or whatever). So if you can do anything to liven up your product's perception in the world (such as a contest allowing viewers at home to come up with a commercial) then do it!

And just to prove my point, here we are, on a TV blog, talking about Heinz ketchup. And if a few of the already-submitted commercials were actually clever, I'm sure there would be tons of buzz about that. It apparently just so happens that they haven't gotten anything good yet (and may not.... it's ketchup after all...)

May 27 2007 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Midnight Penguin

The Doritos ad that aired during the Superbowl was pretty funny. The thing about ketchup is that it doesn't seem to have the built in audience that would really make ads. Honestly, I think people eat ketchup but aren't as dedicated to the Heinz brand of ketchup as the eaters of Doritos are. Same goes for Dodge - if you own one you're probably fanatical about them. I don't see the same for ketchup, so to me it seems cheap. I don't mind the other user ads.

May 27 2007 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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