With the rise of “Web 2.0” and “UGC” (User Generated Content) many brands are attempting to harness the power of UGC. But how well are they doing it? Which ones are getting right and which embarrassingly wrong?

Here are a few of my own thoughts on the winners and losers, but do suggest your own…

It seems to me that there are 3 main ways to succeed:

1. The product itself is so fantastic that it markets itself (the recent M&S food advertising success, for example; remember the chocolate cake? That flew off the shelves as a result of the advertising)

2. You have to make the advertising so fantastic that it is outstanding content in its own right. The Sony Bravia ads are good examples.

3. You have to create an idea or experience that is genuinely compelling and engaging. MINI’s “aveaword” campaign is an example.

Following are a few of the campaigns and ideas that have caught my attention – either positively or negatively.

1. MINI Cooper ‘ave a word’
The full aveaword experience is no longer live on the MINI site but you can see it on Glue London’s site as a showcase. A great interactive experience and excellent use of the medium. Deservedly multi award-winning.
Rating: 8/10

2. Sony Bravia (Balls and Paint)

The Sony Bravia ads have their own site. Whilst not strictly speaking all about UGC, the internet part of the campaign was very well executed and integrated, including good engagement with bloggers, clever timings (sneak previews on the web etc.). More on this ‘case study’ in the press release from Immediate Future.
Rating: 7/10

3. Nike Football “Chain”

I like the concept of using interactivity and user-uploaded-videos to create an ever-growing chain of football passes. So far there have been over 1,000 players in the chain from over 80 countries.
Rating: 6/10

4. Virgin Trains “Be Inspired by Time”

Do you think great thoughts on the train? Perhaps not. I still like the concept – for something that risks otherwise being a bit dull to market. Have a look through some of the ideas so far on the Be Inspired by Time site.
Rating: 5/10

5. Dr Marten’s FREEDM site

I didn’t write particularly nice things about this FREEDM site “for creating and sharing your stuff”when it first came out. I think it’s improved but I’m not clear about the link with DM and I’m still not sure why people would want to “create and share their stuff” here rather than on any of the other gazillion independent social networking sites out there?
Rating: 4/10

6. Coca-Cola’s “Coke side of life”

The design is quite impressive for the Coke side of life UK site – though barely usable across the global Coke presence, and, I suspect, totally inaccessible. But I’m just not sure why people should want to take up the various ‘challenges’ to upload oddball videos of themselves. Why would you here? Why not on YouTube? Given the global campaign and marketing clout of Coke it seems they’re getting hardly any entries. Which doesen’t entirely surprise me.
Rating: 3/10

7. Bailey’s social networking

I read in New Media Age that Bailey’s were launching an online social networking site for people to hang out in in a Baileys-like way and organise their social diaries online. This sounded to me like a truly poor idea. And, indeed, I can’t seem to find any such thing now.

However, I did find the Baileys Lounge which amused me – why anyone would want to hand over all the data they ask for (in return for a free Baileys “milk frother” whatever that is) I’m not sure. I have signed up as drinking more than 8 bottles of Baileys a year, drinking it every day, along with all of: Vodka, Malt whisky, Blended whisky, Rum, Brandy, Gin, Wine, Other liqueurs, Other spirits, Pimm’s, Guinness, Ales and lagers. After signing-up I got an e-mail titled: “Dear [Personalised]” which was a nice touch. With my made-up profile they should be referring me to alcoholics anonymous.
Rating: 1/10

So which brands do you think are “doing Web 2.0” particularly well, or badly?

Ashley Friedlein