In 2013, due to inordinate misuse, Merriam-Webster amended the definition of “literally” to include its literal antonym, “figuratively”. It might be time to do the same for “UGC.” Nowadays, “UGC” refers more generally to brand-sponsored mobile content, rather than true user-generated content. In this edition of the newsletter, we bring you ads that fit this new definition of UGC, all cleverly crafted to appear as organic content.
When it comes to visual hooks, weirder is better. Once Rocket Money has your attention, they quickly follow with a barrage of UGC-native strategies. From the TikTok voice (love it or hate it), to text treatment, to our beloved sticky note visual, all of these tactics have proven to drive conversions. And now I’ve been driven to see how hard I can squeeze an egg before it breaks.
This ad uses a tactic we’ve found to be very performant: starting with the negative. Drilling, cutting, blending (?) a shitty wallet definitely drives home the cons of a poorly made product. Filmed at home and edited with familiar techniques like the snap transition, the brand feels approachable. There’s also the inclusion of direct elements like testimonials and 5-star reviews. Even though they’re scrolled through quickly, they push you over the edge and into clicking the ATC button.
Imagine this: you’re targeting microinfluencers… If 90% of your brainstormed ideas don’t involve UGC, you might as well torch your Figjam board and start over. Here, the TikTok green screen effect shows the product in use and strengthens the testimonial. Bonus points for the “reply to” prompt, social-native text, and emojis. Plus, our peppy friend does it all in less than 10 seconds.
Who remembers this Hail Mary from Kmart? We’re still talking about it 11 years later. Every Man Jack knows their bro-y (pardon our French) audience, gets them hooked, then follows with authentic feeling UGC. A good lesson here: if you’re going to pair branded content with UGC, don’t take it too seriously.
There’s a reason why you keep seeing these Buzzfeed-esque headlines - they work! Clickbait is obviously a solid attention-grabber, and it’s difficult to pull yourself away from a numbered list once it’s rolling. There’s really no need for brands to hire expensive celebrities when anyone with charisma can be just as effective walking an audience through a “5 reasons why…” list.
Who had “Canned Fish ASMR” on their advertising bingo card? Usually we like to see some on-screen text. Maybe it’s the writer in us that makes us want to say, “add some copy in there!” But Fishwife gets your mouth watering without words. Sexy lighting, beautiful ingredients, and crisp sounds subtly convey the quality of the product and the approachability of the brand.
Gotta reserve one final shoutout for the unboxing clips in this uncomplicated UG-seafood morsel.
Here’s a secret: starting with “here’s my secret…” is a sure way to get someone’s attention. But you better have a secret worth sharing or you’re going to lose your audience. This ad has tips for parents that actually feel authentic, which is a must when you’re making UGC content - anything else feels cringy because no one likes a sellout. There’s also the brilliant angle at 0:31, where we really see the product’s effect on kids. From the direct tactics to the Petite Biscuit song, we can honestly say that we Lovevery part of this ad.
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