A Finished Ad? A Few Thousand Dollars. A Big Idea? Priceless.

For "Listen" Chapter 4 -- "Spot On"

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Well, why not try to make a buck over CGA?

It's certainly the trend de jour, having been so widely talked about at nothing less than the 2007 Super Bowl. There, in the midst of the highest-profile advertising event of the year, were three commercials either inspired by (the NFL), written by (Chevrolet) or wholly produced by (Doritos) consumers.

Sure, it was gimmicky. But except for the Chevy one – which, you know, sucked -- the stuff wasn't too bad. And many an advertiser has, to varying degrees, jumped on the CGA bandwagon. MasterCard, JetBlue, Converse, General Electric and others seem to have concluded that if you put a million monkeys at a million computers, your chances of getting a good idea may be better than putting two expensive "creatives" in an office on Madison Avenue..

"What's the harm?" asks Neil Perry, a veteran of McDonald's brand management who left consulting to take this gig with XLNTads.com. "And what if going through the exercise you come up with a great idea?"

The answer to that, obviously, is there is hardly any exercise not worth going through if the reward is a great idea. But Perry isn't necessarily posing the right question. In an upcoming post, I'll suggest a better one. In fact, I'll suggest a better three.

For the moment, though, it's easy to see why CGA is beginning to look so attractive.

For starters, it's genuinely a zeitgeist enterprise. Bloggers, vloggers, and short-form video artists are changing the world of content by stuffing the digital pipeline with work of their own creation. As media guru Rishad Tobaccowala once put it to me, "If you aren't posting, you don't exist. People say, 'I post, therefore I am.'"

Constituo, ergo sum. Descartes is surely seething from beyond. But Rishad is not wrong. Increasingly e-citizens are taking YouTube at its word. "Broadcast yourself" is one slogan the online world has taken to heart and, in YouTube's short-form universe, the 30-second spot is an inviting genre.
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