There are only about 8 cable channels that I actually watch on a regular basis and one of them happens to be Current TV. The network runs some really excellent documentaries and news shows but I sort of miss the days when they used to run short, viewer-created docs all day long. But while Current has moved away from airing viewer-made “pods,” they still air a lot of viewer-created ads thanks to their “Viewer Created Ad Message” program. Here’s an especially great example of commercial that aired on Current. Oh…for some weird reason, Current makes you watch a commercial before you watch this commercial! So the VCAM ad is the second one that plays.
Official VCAM Selection. Purchased and aired by Samsung:
Since I’m a big fan of spec commercial contests/assignments and Current TV, I was psyched when I got an e-mail from the folks behind the VCAM program, Barry Penland and Nicole Smith. It sounded like 2012 was going to be a big year for VCAM so I decided to let Barry and Nicole tell you all about the program themselves…in the form of an interview!
VCN: So, tell me about the VCAM program. What is it and how does it work?
VCAM TEAM: The Viewer Created Content program (VCAM) is a unique advertising vehicle born out of the user-generated spirit of Current TV six years ago. The program brings independent producers together with national advertisers to create unique and often non-traditional ad campaign videos. Current TV was originally programmed solely by user-generated content and naturally complimented this aspect of our network. As Current transitioned into more traditional programming, we maintained the VCAM department as a way to offer opportunities to producers to continue to contribute to the content, as well as receive recognition and compensation. Current is based in several locations throughout the US, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Producers can either sign up to receive notifications, or check the assignment page at http://current.com/vcam to find out about open callouts. From there, they will be given details of the video assignment and the goals and guidelines of the brand. If they choose to participate and their finished video is selected by the brand, the producer can be compensated up to $5,000 and the video may air on Current TV and be posted on both Current’s and the brand’s web sites. If the video is chosen by the brand to air on other networks, there is the possibility for additional money.
An important distinction between VCAM and other contests is that our program is NOT a contest. Instead, VCAMs are based on client-initiated assignments or “calls for content” that we send out to our producer community all over the world. We engage with our producers directly and communicate with them during every step in the process: from the conception of their ideas, to execution of the production, through on-air delivery. We also give them vast amounts of help to create their commercials, for example: access to a license free music library and visual assets – often from the advertiser directly. Lastly, we invite our producers to speak directly with the brand on a conference call where producers can ask specific questions about the creative direction and receive honest feedback about what they are looking for in the content piece.
VCN: What kind of brands have taken part in the program?
VCAM TEAM: The brands that we work with are National Advertisers that have creative agencies that normally create their marketing/advertising for mainstream distribution. At Current, our advertisers are looking for innovative, cutting edge creative that has an authentic consumer perspective. They are not looking for the same old, same old. In our experience, brands have selected all types of VCAMs, whether unpolished and amateur, or clean and professional.
Brands have included: Toyota, HP, XM Radio, Paramount, Wachovia, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, Pop Secret, Microsoft, L’Oréal, Nikon, Canon, Mini, Lexus, T-Mobile, Nissan, McDonalds, Scion, Sun Chips, Clorox, Allstate, Mountain Dew, Gillette, Chrysler, Electronic Arts, Chrysler, eHarmony, Revlon, Geico, Hershey’s.
VCN: Why do you think companies are interested in having “viewers” create their commercials?
VCAM TEAM: Viewers bring a unique perspective that is increasingly important in our socially networked world. Our producer community has done an amazing job at capturing brand messaging in their authentic consumer voice and we believe that is what draws advertisers to Current.
VCN: Do you have some personal favorite VCAM ads?
VCAM TEAM: Definitely! Check these out:
Lexus – “Zaqistan” http://current.com/groups/lexus-vcam-results/92261698
SunChips – “Little Steps” http://current.com/groups/on-current-tv/92391223
Sony Pictures Digital – Battle L.A. “Night” youtube.com/watch?v=VKkQs82I8Ac
VCN: What do you think makes for a special viewer created ad?
VCAM TEAM: VCAMs are all pretty special because they often represent perspectives that don’t normally appear in mainstream advertising. Sincerity and simplicity make for some of the best VCAMs – even if they’re rough around the production edges.
VCN: Are any VCAM assignments currently running?
VCAM TEAM: We have a number of assignments already in progress, but there will be many new assignments throughout the rest of 2012 that producers can consider. It is a very busy year! Sign up for the VCAM newsletter at http://current.com/participate/vcam or email us at email@example.com to get involved.
VCN: Here’s the final and most important question; who gets crazier at the Current TV office party; Al Gore or Keith Olbermann?
VCAM TEAM: No comment