What is UGC?


Are you tired of writing every single piece of content for your brand, to fill thousands of streams to meet customers always “on” demand? Well, today is your lucky day: This blog post is about UGC: USER GENERATED CONTENT – and it will set you free.

UGC is a marketing tactic that allows modern businesses to delegate some of the heavy lifting of marketing content creation to their customers and fans. The best part? In so doing, brands honor the customers even more than ever before, by turning the lens right onto them, and making them – the audience – the real star.

As we have already explored in recent posts and our conference on Influencer marketing (link to post: http://futureevents.us/influencer-marketing/), consumers are more interested in hearing the views of their peers than reading cleverly written sales messages. And before you utter the word “Millennials” – stop yourself. According to Bazaar Voice’s study last year, it’s not just 64% of millennials – but also 53% of baby boomers who demand to share their opinions about brands.

So let’s do a deep-dive. According to Wikipedia User-generated content (UGC) is defined as “any form of content (think: digital images, video, tweets) – that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites“. The term entered mainstream usage during 2005, having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles. Today, it is a force – a true example of the democratization of content production. Back in the day, traditional “gatekeepers” such as magazine and TV ads by brands were all created and approved in-house before anything was published. Today, new technologies and social media have changed the game. As we all know, the general public, regular, large numbers of amateur individuals are able to post text, digital photos and digital videos online, with little or no “gatekeepers” or filters.

Additionally, user-generated content is also the direct result of increasingly savvy audiences. As we say often here at Havas, we are marketing to marketers – an audience of people so attuned to media messages, they can smell inauthenticity a mile away. The solution? Turn the lens on them. Make THEM the star. Let them produce the content with your marketing “hook”. To bring the point home, here are a few excellent examples of great UGC Campaigns.

Of course, we have to start with Burberry. In a first foray into UGC, the company launched The Art of the Trench website in 2009, where users could upload and comment on pictures of people wearing Burberry products. Burberry’s ecommerce sales surged 50% year-over-year following the launch of the site. Since then, Burberry has become famous for employing UGC – particularly with the launch and promotion of fragrance. But we still remember this awesome doorbuster particularly.


Another great example of user generated content, Starbucks’ White Cup Contest launched in April 2014. Customers across the country were asked to doodle on their Starbucks cups and submit pictures as entries. The winning entry would be the template for a new limited edition Starbucks cup. Nearly 4,000 customers submitted entries in a 3-week span. The contest was a great way for Starbucks to get publicity and prove that it strongly valued customer feedback.


But here’s the think – you don’t need to be a billion dollar love brand to launch into UGC. Luxury purveyors – naturally smaller, and commanding higher prices – are venturing just as much. For example, LVMH-owned footwear label Nicholas Kirkwood is putting the spotlight on its fans for its fall/winter 2016 campaign – as we speak.

The brand’s designer is doing this by looking through his own favorite posts tagged #MyKirkwoods, and asking the consumer photographers to shoot themselves in his latest collection. The brand is already tracking well over 1,000 posts featuring this hashtag. So far, so good.

As you can see, user-generated content is becoming more popularly tapped by brands looking to showcase an authentic, personal view of their products. At Havas, we pride ourselves into building a UGC component into any activation – and look forward to pitching you a custom example soon.



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