Consumer-Generated Advertising: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Michele Buckley
This lesson provides an introduction to Consumer-Generated Advertising, also known as User-Generated Content, with interesting examples from well-known brands. Learn the advantages and disadvantages of brand content created by everyday people.


The TV show Mad Men illustrates the early days of advertising as an industry: a team of clever people in a swanky advertising agency plan creative campaigns for TV or magazines to build brand awareness. Today, while those agencies still exist, the ecosystem of brand messaging has changed dramatically. Brand messages are no longer controlled by the brand owner. Today's technology allows consumers to communicate their view of brands like never before… and they do so happily online.


Consumer-Generated Advertising (CGA), also known as User-Generated Content (UGC) refers to brand content created by users, also known as everyday people who are likely not professional advertising executives nor an employee of the company that owns the brand.

Anyone with a smartphone or video camera can easily create content - like a picture, video or blog post -- about a brand or product. Positive or negative, user generated content builds brand awareness with other people that see that video or blog post online, like on web sites, social media, or online forums.


Chobani, a Greek yogurt company founded in 2005, invited their customers to participate in a brand campaign that boosted brand awareness and sales. Chobani asked real customers to share their 'Chobani love story' in videos, images, and text on the Chobani website and social media.

Chobani ads read: ''Share YOUR Chobani love story. Got a story, song, recipe, painting (or whatever!) that shows your love for Chobani? Share it today! Have your friends vote on it and you could win a CUSTOM CASE OF CHOBANI!!''

As Chobani customers began sharing their content, the company then amplified the messages by crossing mediums, like placing real customer Twitter messages on billboards, or using YouTube videos on television, for example. One of the winning submissions was from customer Stephen Wright who explained how he biked 80 miles to see the Chobani plant and said, ''I'm not a paid actor I'm a real Chobani lover.'' The campaign was so effective that Chobani later reported it created a 225.9% increase in revenue from 2009 to 2010!


Why can Consumer Generated Advertising create such a positive impact on sales? Many research studies have been performed that validate what seems to be common sense--people are more likely to trust and believe the viewpoints of 'regular people' rather than a company or agency promoting a brand for commercial benefit.

In fact, according to Nielson, 83% of people trust recommendations from friends and family, while only 56% of people trust information in brand emails they signed up for. Authenticity and believability of core messages of consumer generated advertising are often more effective than traditional advertising.

CGA can also have a financial benefit, being an inexpensive method of generating awareness. Consumers generating content do not receive payment from a company, although sometimes they do win prizes, prestige, publicity, or promotional items depending on the campaign.

Tourism Queensland, for example, in 2009 used this approach to promote the Great Barrier Reef on a very small budget. By placing classifieds ads around the world, they invited people to apply for The Best Job in the World, which was a 6-month contract for AUD$150,000 as 'Island Caretaker' in the Great Barrier Reef. Anyone could apply by submitting a one-minute video… and 35,000 people did from 201 countries around the world, including the Vatican!

The campaign was so innovative that the press could not resist reporting on it. By the end of the campaign, their few classified ads and local effort earned and estimated $368 million in media coverage, 8.4 million unique website visits, and 55 million page views. In 2013, they repeated a similar campaign with six jobs available including ''Chief Funster.''


Brands cannot control and shape consumer based advertising, which means it can actually detract from a brand reputation rather than help it. In addition, once consumer momentum begins building, it is very hard to stop it, even years later.

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