i'm with the brand

User generated content: you’re doing it wrong (kind of)
November 30, 2009, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , ,

Iggy Pop

At first it seems like kind of a cool idea: rock legend Iggy Pop teams up with 8 amateur musicians for a little recording session…over Skype! In an age when Journey can hire its new lead singer off a Youtube clip, why not?

New Zealand’s Orcon broadband company commissioned this little stunt to tout the speed and clarity of its connections, bringing Iggy Pop together with 8 Kiwi contest-winners to record his classic, “The Passenger,” in a virtual jam session remotely via the internet. While it seems like a great way to involve audiences and prove Orcon’s brand claims, something is off, and as Pitchfork puts it, the result is “something of a clusterfuck.”

It seems here, as appears to be common with the faddish user generated content phenomenon (I’m hesitant to label this user participation, which I see as subtly different, a larger and more diverse umbrella–but I concede that this isn’t really straight UGC either), that the chief pitfall is that Orcon left the quality of this effort–and its brand–completely in the hands of users, thinking of it perhaps as cheap or easy advertising. While many companies do UGC for no discernable strategic reason, at least here I have to say Orcon’s approach does makes some sense–internet, collaboration-potential, clear signal, fast connection–I get it, I get it. But when you consider just how much time, effort, and monetary value is wrapped up in brands, it seems absurd the abandon with which companies regularly and cavalierly surrender brand control in ways that they would not with other more tangible assets–especially when UGC’s track record is so notoriously spotty. In Orcon’s case, perhaps a more cautious and brand-led approach would have yielded better, less-gimmicky results?

As for me, the next time I’m looking for my awkward-funny Kiwi music fix, I think I’ll just stick to Flight of the Conchords.


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