Consumers are now generating, rather than merely consuming advertising. The consequences for brands, marketers, and senior executives are significant. Advertising was traditionally generated by, or on behalf of, the firm and broadcast to relatively passive consumers. With the rise of digital media, the Internet, and inexpensive media software, considerable creative and distributive power has been handed to the consumer. Liberated from the exclusive control of the firm, ads now express a myriad of different voices. Some ads are subversive, others laudatory, but the fact remains that the firm is no longer in exclusive control of the message. Using a number of high profile cases, this article explores the motivations that drive consumers to create their own ads and develops a typology of the ads created. It develops a model for the various strategic stances that a firm can adopt in response to this phenomenon so that managers can anticipate and thus deal more effectively with some of the extreme consequences of liberated advertising.
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