–Dan Kelly, Attorney

I have a good friend who, on point of principle, eschews endorsing large corporations.  Consequently, when he comes to possess t-shirts that bear corporate logos, he wears them inside out, so as to defeat the nominal marketing power they may have.  He gets a bit of a thrill knowing that he will not be a pawn in that game.  I once ran some errands with him in such a condition, and just about every person that saw him told him that he was wearing his shirt inside-out.  To each one, he briefly preached his gospel, “No corporate sponsorships, ma’am!”

He hasn’t converted me yet (and he may be a trendsetter), but his antics are an apt background to those who are at the opposite pole:  consumers who voluntarily create marketing materials for major brands.  The Internet has amplified this considerably.  I recently hit upon an illustrative case:  Johnsonville Sausage.  About a month ago, I saw a billboard with an enlarged photo of some bratwurst cooking on a grill with a simple white word overlay:  TASTYVILLE.  I salivated like Pavlov’s dog.  Just last week, I saw a second, similar billboard, and the word was SUMMERVILLE.  Then it occurred to me:  I bet the Johnsonville website is carrying this theme as well.

Not only is the Johnsoville website playing off of this theme, but the company is conducting a contest in which users can create their own _______VILLE advertisements.  I realize that this marketing concept is hardly novel, but it really struck me how far technology has enabled us to go when it comes to customer-created advertising.

Of course, art has always imitated life, and the videos here and here really prove it.  Move over YMCA!