With the rise of YouTube and other user-generated and user-uploaded content sites, advertisers have been trying to take advantage of them, either by posting their ads, or by leveraging users' creativity (and willingness to work for free) by asking them to create their own ads. Frito-Lay ran one of the first high-profile user-generated campaigns, in which they offered users a chance to have their ad broadcast during the Super Bowl, and plenty of other brands have followed with similar contests. These contests seek to capitalize on consumers' passion -- either for the product in question, or for creating content. The problem, of course, is that when participants feel hard done by, that passion will dictate some sort of backlash, as Malibu Caribbean Rum is now discovering. It ran a run-of-the-mill contest, asking users to submit their own video ads, with the winner receiving $25,000 or a banana grove. All was well until the winners were announced, with some users claiming the results were rigged. They're now kicking up a fuss, including (of course) posting a video, which in itself, hardly provides conclusive evidence that the fix was in. Regardless, the damage is already done, as the allegations that Malibu cheated participants circulate, and make their way into the mainstream media. Advertisers need to recognize that this sort of thing is a two-way street: while they seek to take advantage of users' passion, that passion can can quickly become anger if users feel mistreated.
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