UGC, CGC, and UPCs – Part IV

July 15, 2007

George MastersIt might be easier to wrap our brains around the commercial potential of UGC/CGC if we put producer-types into groups. Thus far we’ve discussed amateurs and professionals, but there are two additional producer-types that are making the most notable consumer generated content: skilled amateurs and semi-pros.

Skilled amateurs excel in using one or more content creation tools and often have some degree of creative talent. They aren’t pursuing a career directly related to their talent but may want to monitize it through channels like contests. Skilled amateurs are few, but exactly who CGC proponents and brand marketers want to catalyze.

Semi-pros fall into several camps. Some are sporatically employed actors, writers, directors, and artists trying to break into the big time. Others are students in art, film, or journalism schools trying to get noticed. Often semi-pros are already commercial artists or media professionals who have a personal interest or excel in an area outside of their current jobs.

Many ballyhooed examples of CGC content come from folks in these two groups. George Masters, who created the iPod Tiny Machine animation is the epitome of a “skilled amateur”. Examples from semi-pros, including the creators of Dorito’s Superbowl ads are far more numerous.

Pop Secret spec adThe allure of cheap but potentially breakthrough advertising has spawned Internet services like CurrentTV’s VCAM, letting marketer’s solicit spec work from both semi-pros and skilled amateurs. These so-called “consumers” are unlikely to have a deep affinity for the brands they create content for, but the Koolaid drinking proponents of CGC aren’t very interested in discussing this point. The illusion of loyal consumers toiling away to produce branded creative is far too sexy to distroy.

Part of the illusion is a perception of authenticity. This is often more a result of less-than-professional production quality than the heartfelt affinity of the creator. Even though the illusion may be more hype than reality, marketer’s should take interest leveraging CGC created by semi-pros and skilled amateurs.


  1. Yes, yes, and yes.

    This is what I’ve been talking about all along: CGC is NOT generated by “Cs” (consumers). It’s generated by people who want an agent.

    The actual “Cs” quickly see through this and no amount of PR spin can make a wannabe actor back into a bartender. So whatever benefits a brand might get from CGC are lost and then some: clearly no one loves the brand enough to create a commercial for them out of selfless passion.

  2. Here’s a story in the NYT (hattip Andy Beal at Marketing Pilgrim) announces Sony’s latest vehicle to solicit content from aspiring filmmakers.


    There is a growing trend of big media and marketers to cultivate “content” from skilled amateurs and semi-pros. You’re right Toad, these aren’t your typical consumers.

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