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Content comes in so many formats, with so many silly names attached to them, it’s hard to keep up.

But thankfully user-generated content is a fairly self-explanatory one.

With the help of social media, brands are increasingly turning to the general public to come up with creative ideas and share them with the world.

In this post I’m going to cover 10 of the best campaigns I’ve seen in the hope of inspiring your own user-generated efforts. 

Three – ‘create your own pony’

In his talk at the Festival of Marketing last year, Three UK’s chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz talked about the brand’s ‘create your own pony’ campaign off the back of the infamous dancing pony advert.

1.5m ponies were created, and the original ad was viewed 11m times, with 65% of the UK exposed to the film at least once and 95% of the content re-shared.

Nintendo – Super Mario Maker

Who doesn’t love Super Mario? If the answer is you, I’m afraid we can no longer be friends. 

Super Mario Maker lets people create their own levels on the classic game, and as soon as it came out the internet was flooded with users’ creations. 

Of course various YouTube gaming stars got on board. This clip from elrubiusOMG has clocked up almost 10m views since August last year. Not bad.

Starbucks – White Cup Contest

Back in 2014, Starbucks invited people to decorate one of its cups with customised art and submit a photo of it to Twitter under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

The brand received almost 4,000 entries and the campaign generated an enormous amount of social media activity. 

Here is the winning entry, 20-year-old college student Brita Lynn Thompson. 

This is a great example of how you don’t need a huge budget to have a big impact on social media.

As a side note: I’ve said before I’m convinced Starbucks employees are told to get people’s names wrong on purpose in the hope they’ll upload the hilarious mistake to social media and Buzzfeed will write a post about it.

Or maybe I’ve just been wearing this tinfoil hat for too long...

buzzfeed article about starbucks wrong names

Three – #SingItKitty

Malleschitz also mentioned Three UK’s #SingItKitty campaign. 

The brand invited people to create their own version of the #SingItKitty advert, achieving similar success to the pony campaign.  

Tourism Queensland – ‘best job in the world’

An oldie but oh what a goodie. Tourism Queensland put out an ad inviting people to apply for ‘the best job in the world’: to be caretaker of a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef.

Here’s a case study video explaining it and showing some of the entries:

Tourism Queensland didn’t have a massive budget to spend trying to attract people to the island, but by putting this spin on it the campaign went viral across the world and 35,000 people created video applications.   

The public then voted for the winner so people’s engagement levels with the campaign remained high throughout the process. 

By the end of it the brand had achieved:

  • Estimated $368m in media coverage.
  • 8.4m unique website visits.
  • 55m pageviews. 

Take a bow, Tourism Queensland. 

Coca-Cola – Share a Coke

Such a simple idea, yet so ridiculously effective. Just by putting names on its bottles, Coca-Cola was able to prompt an enormous amount of user-generated content. 

People just seem to love sharing pictures of Cokes with names on. Go figure. 

One American couple even used them to announce their pregnancy, which, incidentally, is extreme levels of sad.

All ‘quirky’ engagement and/or pregnancy announcements should be banned from the internet, and indeed the world, forever.

Walkers – Do Us a Flavour

Walkers invited people to invent their own flavour for a chance to win £1m and potentially eternal glory. 

1.2m people entered the competition, with the shortlisted entries including hot dog with tomato ketchup and chip shop chicken curry. 

The winner, Paul Rothwell’s pulled pork in sticky BBQ sauce, was picked by judges David Walliams and Marco Pierre White. 

Paul Rothwell winner of do us a flavour

Lowe’s – #FanFixInSix

After running an extremely successful Vine campaign where it produced six-second DIY how-to clips, Lowe’s outsourced the idea to the general public and asked people to come up with their own. 

Some really creative ideas came in.

Doritos – #BurnSelfie

Doritos in Canada launced a campaign to promote its new Roulette product, asking people to post pictures of their ‘burn selfies’ after they ate one of the spicy tortilla chips.

Needless to say, there were some amusing entries.

SalesForce – IdeaExchange

This one is a bit less ‘whacky’ than some of the other examples here, but no less effective. 

SalesForce created a site called IdeaExchange to let people suggest new features for the product. 

It then works in a similar way to Reddit, where users can vote and comment on their favourite ideas and the ones with the most likes/comments will appear at the top. 

ideaexchange salesforce

This is a fantastic move on SalesForce’s part. By creating this simple site it not only receives regular new ideas for its product, but also gets real-time feedback on all of those ideas from other users. 

Have you got any other examples?

Personally I’m a massive fan of user-generated content. It’s great for making a massive impact on social without the biggest budget in the world, but it also encourages people to engage with a brand in a more meaningful way than something like watching an ad.  

What do you think? Have you seen any user-generated campaigns you think are worth mentioning?

Jack Simpson

Published 22 February, 2016 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

252 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Liam Shannon, Executive Creative Director at Vistaprint

By creating a high-quality original piece of music we were able to then do a "cover" contest that generated a ton of great user created content that we were able to share across Facebook and other platforms. here are a couple of examples of the level of quality we got which was excellent...

8 months ago


Marsha Tunkel, Planner at Creston GroupEnterprise

8 months ago

Jenna Ochoa

Jenna Ochoa, Director of Marketing at Blue Stout

These are GREAT examples of using UGC to engage with customers. What many ecommerce brands don't realize is they can leverage UGC on their own website (where they have a little more "control").

Here's a few examples of fast-growing brands putting that in action: http://bluestout.com/blog/user-generated-content-ecommerce/

Would love your feedback on these examples / thoughts about brands using UGC on their own site!

2 months ago

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