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KFC mines consumers’ videos for ads

NEW YORK – Fifteen minutes of Web fame is turning into 15 seconds of TV ad fame for some consumers as a couple of big advertisers, KFC and Geico, mine sharing sites such as YouTube for video to use in commercials.

On Tuesday’s “American Idol,” KFC aired an ad built from snippets of consumers’ Web videos. The ad, called “Celebration,” shows people pumping fists, flipping, jumping and generally going bonkers, ostensibly for the chain’s new menu of chicken with no trans fats. KFC evaluated 400 videos and got approval to use 35, before making the final cut to clips from 13 people, including a vegetarian.

“The idea of using consumer-generated content and putting together a bunch of unrelated videos to tell one story was so exciting we wanted to move on it,” says James O’Reilly, KFC’s vice president of national marketing.

Geico, meanwhile, pokes a little fun at the goofy video craze in four ads that began airing recently. They show consumer video silliness such as jousting with mattresses or juggling in a human-size plastic cone.

In ads by The Martin Agency, Geico suggests that if consumers are online, they could spend the time more profitably by going to Geico.com and getting a rate quote for cheaper insurance.

“We say that Geico.com is so easy to use that’s it better to do than watching that horrible content,” says Ted Ward, Geico’s vice president of marketing.

Using that content in 15-second ads, however, shaves about 75 percent off the near-$200,000 average cost for such a commercial with professional video and can be made in about a third of the time.

Making commercials the old-fashioned way – from scripts and storyboards to scouting locations to auditioning actors and then shooting and editing the ads – is not likely to disappear.

Many marketers are eager to find ways to add consumer-generated video into the mix because they think consumers identify with and enjoy real people doing real things.

The people in the video KFC spliced together for its ad, however, aren’t really reacting to the new menu. Hasan Robinson, 27, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., and is shown doing a flip, is, in fact, a vegetarian.

“I don’t care. I was so excited,” he says about being in a chicken ad.

KFC lucked out finding Ricardo Skratch Charles of London, who is a KFC fan. He’s seen in the ad’s closing shot blowing out candles placed in a KFC bucket.

“We typed in ‘KFC’ at one of the sites,” says Tom O’Keefe, chief creative officer Draftfcb in Chicago, the agency that made the ad. “That scene popped up.”

Cheap and easy-to-find consumer video may not put pro commercial actors out of work, but their union, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), is concerned.

The impact of new media on traditional advertising production is being evaluated in a study sponsored by SAG and other media and acting organizations.

“We want to make sure that in new media, professionally produced and acted commercials remain the dominant way that advertisers communicate with consumers,” says Doug Allen, national executive director of SAG.

To view KFC’s compilation, click here.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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