Teachable News Story


When Chevy invited consumers to create their own commercials for the Tahoe SUV, things did not go smoothly. Should co-production include marketing activities?

ARC: ARCalendar: 17 Apr 2006: Teachable News Story 

Chevy Tahoe

This Teachable News Story was inspired by an article in the April 4, 2006 New York Times, "Chevy Tries a Write-Your-Own-Ad Approach, and the Potshots Fly."

It seems that a number of companies are taking co-production seriously enough that they are allowing consumers to produce advertisements.  The American auto manufacturer Chevrolet gave this a try. A TV commercial on the show "The Apprentice" sent visitors to the site


where they were invited to create their own ads for the Chevy Tahoe, a popular SUV. This sounds like a pretty with-it idea, right? Some of the results were perhaps not what Chevy was hoping for as some visitors created anti-SUV ads. Some of the not-so-favorable ads are still visible on the Chevy site and also by going to http://www.youtube.com/ and searching on "Chevy Tahoe". NOTE: First preview for suitability any video from youtube.com that you plan to show in class!

Other companies that have tried this include Converse and MasterCard.

Some Marketing Bloggers Weigh In:


Trade Press: "User-generated content is what the young want, New Media Age, 2 Feb 2006, p. 7.

Academic: Pitt et al. argue in the Spring 2006 JAMS that branding exists on a continuum between closed source (meaning, experience, text and physical aspects completely controlled by the firm) and open source (created by individuals). Their terminology is based on the Open-Source movement which originated in software.

Potential Class Questions

  1. User generated commercials would seem to be part of a broader trend towards user generated content of all sorts. Examples might include myspace in particular, blogging in general, and video sharing sites.
    • Do students think this is a fad, an important trend, or simply not true?
    • Assuming they believe it, what is behind it? What has brought it about?
  2. What are the potential benefits to a firm that allows consumers to produce ads? Here perhaps we can think in terms of involvement but also their attribution (Bendapudi and Leone 2003).
  3. Does it make sense to allow the users to define the brand? Are there circumstances (product categories) where it makes more or less sense? 
  4. In general, was this a good move by Chevy or a bad one?


Bendapudi, Neeli and Robert P. Leone (2003), "Psychological Implications of Customer Participation in Co-Production," Journal of Marketing, 67 (1), 14-28.

Pitt, Leyland F., Richard T. Watson, Pierre Berthon, Donald Wynn, and George M. Zinkhan (2006), "The Penguin’s Widow: Corporate Brands from an Open-Source Perspective," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34 (2), 115-127.