If you read my Nike post you might have thought "Dave, you're a nut. No brand is going to go all in and let someone create their ad". This is where you're wrong and, taking it a step further, so are ad agencies for trying to pretend the "get it".
See, Heinz is running a CGM contest where people can create a commercial and get paid $57k. Not bad for screwing around with a product on camera to let the ad agency collect their fat paycheck minus $57,000 in out of pocket "expenses". The NY Times sites the number of hours involved in screening the videos and "work" that's involved in selecting the right videos that make the cut. So you have to work to earn your pay? Damn, someone needs me to call them a wah-mbulance (credit goes to my cousin Brian for that one, circa 10 years ago).
Here's where they're wrong: It's not the fault of the people that you created a stupid campaign. And I mean stupid as in "lacking or marked by lack of intellectual acuity", not "stupid, I mean outrageous, stay away from me, if you're contagious.".
Any time we're asked to pitch, are coming up with ideas or are working with clients on new campaigns it all starts with how their brands are being talked about. That's what research can do for you - create real strategies based on research and insights from that research. It's not about "let's jump on the bandwagon with the hope of capitalizing on a hot trend to try and stay relevant within a demographic", which is what the ketchup campaign is about. Let's look at how people talk about Heinz ketchup (or catsup if you're buying the generic brand) on a few sites. Huh, that's funny -- I don't see anything that would lead me to believe that people are just raving about condiments and that they'd have the passion involved in creating a video about a product or service that has changed their lives or they'd tell a friend about. But I digress...
Don't get me wrong -- there are products out there that get people jacked up (disclosure: P&G's a client, and I worked on the launch of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser). And there there are those brands that people don't talk about. The last discussion about ketchup that I had included the words "high fructose corn syrup" and that I'll spend the extra 60 cents on an organic version that doesn't include it. Selling your brand that they should ask users to create a video around it is just misguided and wrong. So I guess it's back to the drawing board for ad agencies to "get" CGM.
Here's an easy rule to follow: If your brand is a commodity and people don't really care about it then chances are you're going to get sub-par enthusiasm around it (and even worse CGM).