June 18, 2009
By DAWSON M. WILLIAMS
The Dallas Morning News
The "Don't Mess with Texas" foundation, dedicated to keeping the state's highways free of litter, is experimenting with an innovative marketing strategy aimed at younger Texans: let them spread the word themselves.
The Car2Can video contest introduced earlier this month challenges participants to create their own commercial to reinforce the idea that trash belongs in a can – not on the roads. The first-place winner will see his or her commercial air on primetime television and will receive a $500 Wal-Mart gift card.
The guidelines for a winning commercial are simple. "The big picture for the video, of course, is creativity. We are also looking for the simple message of ‘put your trash in a trash can,'" said Brenda Flores-Dollar, program manager for the agency's Travel Information Division.
TxDOT's contest requires that the commercials be submitted by June 28. They will be evaluated by a five-judge panel and public voting open to Texans who visit the Web site. . .
Dr. Glenn Griffin, assistant professor of advertising at SMU, said the trend toward letting amateurs do the work of professionals has a lot of potential upside, particularly because it taps into consumers' energy about a product so the sellers don't have to engineer it, he said.
Griffin was a part of SMU's advertising class that won a video competition for a Chipotle commercial in 2006.
One danger to the strategy is that "companies are forced to hand over their brand or product to the public at large and you don't know what they are going to do with it," he said.
Griffin applauded TxDOT's approach.
"It's cheap, it generates a lot of press exposure, and you'll never believe what people will create for their moment in the sun," he said.
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