The Non-Obvious Insights Blog. Non-Obvious Insights
The Non-Obvious Insights Blog.

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

5 Types Of Consumer Generated Marketing (CGM) Campaigns

IMB_TimeMagCover Over the past several years, consumer generated marketing campaigns have become more and more popular. After all, what brand wouldn't want tons of users to create content on their behalf and share it online with their entire social networks? And by the way, these consumers will create it all for free. For this reason, CGM was often heralded as a dream come true type of situation for brands and even a way to supplant their marketing agencies and get their advertising created for free.

As time went on, though, brands realized the downside of consumer generated media could be a lack of control and potential risk for their brand if the content isn't great. That added to the fact that while consumer generated media was the shiny new object that everyone wanted, it wasn't always the best choice in terms of a creative strategy or execution to get people involved. So when is a consumer generated marketing strategy the right choice for your brand?  To find the answer, you need to first understand that there are several different types of consumer generated media campaigns and picking the right one will have a lot to do with your future success or failure. Here are the five types that I have seen online as well as examples of each one:

1. Reinvent a branded asset. "What's Your Version Of ….?"

If your brand has been around for some time, you have likely built up some equity and recognition in the elements of your brand. One of the best ways to involve the online population of content creators in your brand is to ask them for help in reimagining something intrinsic to your brand. Folgers did this recently by asking consumers to re-record the famous theme song – "the best part of wakin up, is Folgers in your cup." The resulting finalists were great examples of talented individuals making the brand their own and also helped to remind anyone who watched any of these finalists just how much a part of their own past Folgers might have been.


2. Find your dream job. "What If You Were … ?"

All of us might imagine ourselves reinvented, but the fact of social media is that it can offer many great tools to help you think about the process of being what you want to be. There are a growing number of campaigns that fit the mold of helping you to envision yourself as doing something different, with the most popular likely being Queensland Tourism's Best Job In The World campaign which invited you to pitch yourself as the new Tourism director for a small island in Australia. Another example is MTV's search happening now for the World's First "TJ" or Twitter Jockey. Contest elements there included creating your own hashtag and publicizing it.


3. Get rewarded for your creativity. "Submit your creative idea for …"

This may be the most popular form of consumer generated media campaign, where you invite participants to submit videos or photos or stories and reward them based on their creativity. The rewards typically focus on visibility and promotion versus prizes or cash – case in point would be Doritos efforts around the Super Bowl for the last several years where they aired a consumer generated TV commercial during the Super Bowl.


4. Share your story, win a prize. "Tell us … – and you could win!"

A format that works for just about any brand, this is a combination of a promotional campaign and something that engages consumers by getting them to share something personal in return for the opportunity to win a prize. An example of this type of campaign is one that Bertolli* recently launched on Facebook to get consumers to share what inspires them.


5. Share your idea to get a grant. "Get funded to change the world."

In a nice intersection between social good and marketing, there are a growing number of sites that allow you to submit your idea for how to make an impact on the world and get funded. Some are like the Pepsi Refresh project which cross into the realm of philanthropy while others are more focused on connected those in need with those who would fund or vote for them such as the American Express Members Project or


Are there any other types of consumer generated media marketing campaigns that you have seen which fit an
other category? Share them in a comment and I will amend this list.

*Note – Bertolli is a client of Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence.

4 thoughts on “5 Types Of Consumer Generated Marketing (CGM) Campaigns”

  1. I think these types of marketing initiatives are great and I can see more and more happening in future.

    It creates a type of marketplace for ideas and creativity. Rather than a campaign focused around on theme with a few executions, these initiatives get the brand evangelists and most passionate fans to go out and flex their own creative muscles.

    It’s amazing to see the creativity that comes out of these and the fact that the community feels an ownership – combined sometimes with the voting elements – rallies target customers around the concept, all of which helps the brand with its awareness or action based goals.

    Keep them coming!

  2. My two cents on CGC:

    1. Most branded consumer generated content, particularly video and audio entries, isn’t created by typical “consumers”. CGC campaigns put forth by Folgers, Doritos, Mountain Dew etc. are cattle calls for spec work parading as consumer contests. The winners are usually semi-pros or pros interested in landing an agent, not moms or your typical teen.

    2. Most branded CGC contests serve as props for PR/earned media initiatives directed at traditional media. High participation isn’t expected or required.

    3. Most branded CGC isn’t shared via digital media any more than professionally produced branded content.

    4. Participation in branded contests is almost always pathetic relative to the dollars that go into them.
    5. The more effort/talent required of the participant, the lower participation you’ll get.

    6. Branded consumer generated content isn’t new. We only have better tools for creating and deceminating it.

    I’m not dissing all CGC initiatives and brand contests, but I think marketing pros should examine these tactics with a greater degree of sobriety. Too many agencies and brand folk get sucked into the idea that their customers are rabid, talented advocates, chomping at the bit to pay homage to their brand. This is rarely the case for most brands.

  3. Thanks Rohit…Very Nice Post

    While I generally agree with Tom’s comments…Thanks Tom… I tend to take a more optimistic approach to the value of CGC for the majority of companies.

    Yes…most CGC for Fortune 500 Brands is somewhat controlled – no big surprise there. The real value is in the ideas and strategies that can be applied and utilized by the next level of companies.

    Most great ideas do not start out as great ideas…they evolve from good ideas. CGC is a good idea for Fortune 500 Companies…I’m still waiting to see the Great Idea which can be utilized for most small to medium sized companies. Thanks again…


Leave a Comment

The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter. Non-Obvious Insights
Layer 97
The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

All Books

#1 WSJ & USA Today Bestselling Author

In addition to Non-Obvious Thinking, Rohit is the author of 10 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Contact ROHIT

Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!


About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message