The Super Bowl is no contest for amateurs, which is why Pizza Hut’s promotion to run a user-generated commercial before the National Football League’s big game next month is a big moment for the advertising trend of crowd-sourcing video content from customers.
Pizza Hut joins PepsiCo as another major advertiser planning a user-generated commercial for the Super Bowl, but the trend of creating ad campaigns from fan-submitted videos has spread in the restaurant industry of late. Dunkin’ Donuts rang in the new year with its “Top of the WorlDD” photo and video contest, while Wingstop last month awarded $10,000 in prize money to an amateur auteur who created the chain’s newest commercial for the “No Bones About It” contest.
But while user-generated advertising holds obvious appeal for consumers, marketing experts differ in their opinions of how likely restaurants are to find great ideas for the creative, especially when the cost of broadcasting any new campaign remains expensive.
Richard Coad, creative director for Washington-based ad agency MDB Communications and leader of its QSR SWAT Team, said user-generated content has been part of the toolkit for 10 years in advertising and “is always an option, depending on the campaign and the idea.” But he called the tactic a “crapshoot,” citing what he judged to be a small success rate.
“If I had lots of funding — or no funding — and I’m trying to find something, then OK, but user-generated content is still an extreme option,” Coad said. “I wouldn’t totally dismiss it, but finding that needle in the haystack [from submitted amateur videos] is not nearly as likely as getting good creative by hiring a talented ad agency in the first place.”
But another agency head, Chicago-based Tris3ct’s president, Tim Nelson, said it makes sense for restaurants to look for marketing ideas from customers, especially social-media-savvy Millennials, because they could hit upon a message that is honest and authentic from those guests’ point of view.
“In the advent of social media … there is a lot of validity to asking this generation for their personal expressions of how they see or use a brand,” Nelson said.