By Dana Oshiro

In 2007, Frito-Lay, Chevrolet, Alka-Seltzer and the NFL invited fans to create ads aired during the Super Bowl. An iMedia article claims that Frito-Lay “saved six or seven figures on the production cost”, generated considerable online and offline buzz, gained millions of page views, and found new audience members when ads were redistributed through YouTube and other video hosting sites.

However, of the four companies airing user-generated ads, only Frito-Lay’s Doritos commercial rated well with viewers. That’s why this year, the company decided to air another user-generated ad – one that topped audience rating charts. Still, after sweetening the deal for amateur producers with a $1M dollar contest pot, one can’t help but think user-generated marketing remains out of reach for smaller companies lacking contest budgets, or is it?

Enter Crowd Sourced Ads: Ad Hack

As seen above, user-generated ads are not new, but one Canadian company is taking a more direct approach. AdHack is an online community where ad creators and ad buyers meet to produce high-quality, low-cost, commissioned ads. The advantage over regular user generated contests is that communities tend to offer encouragement and support amongst peers.

Says AdHack founder James Sherrett, “The brands that succeed in the world of open advertising harness the power of hearing what passionate, powerful consumers have to say. These are the folks who benefit most from commissioning AdHack commercials and advertisements. They have the balls to let go.”

Sherret’s sentiment is what drove the production of his community’s “Show Us Your Balls” Super Ball commercial contest – an effort to display that the secret to capturing people’s attention (for Super Bowl or otherwise) is giving them opportunities for dialogue, community and above all else, great stories. It’s an interesting concept and I’m eager to see what’s next.


Dana Oshiro is a writer, PR Pro and media strategist. She is the Marketing Director for online 12M member DIY repair site, FixYa.
Blogs: Villagerswithpitchforks, Hiyaablog
Twitter: @suzyperplexus

About the Author:

Dana Oshiro

As the Senior Media Analyst and Publishing Strategist for NetShelter, Dana helps 180+ tech sites including VentureBeat, MacRumors and PhoneDog increase their on and offsite audience engagement. In her spare time she contributes to ReadWriteWeb's startup channel and her personal blog VillagersWithPitchforks.

Visit Dana's page at


    James4 February 2009 5:39 pm

    Hey Dana, thanks for the excellent post on AdHack and our Show Us Your Balls video. We’re eager to see what’s next too. Might it be your script getting produced? Only one way to find out — write a script at !

    shenanigoat16 February 2009 3:40 pm

    ugh…..advertising…surely we can think of some other problems to fix with crowdsourcing….lack of imagination is the problem…this kind of shit shit rubs me the wrong way.