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Consumers Mash-Up New Soft-Sell Advertising

CNET reports that a slick video, called "Sony Transformation," features a stereo system that shape-shifts its way into different electronics devices courtesy of mind-bending Matrix-like special effects.

The video spot was created in November by then-18-year-old, self-taught animator Tyson Ibele as a demo at MAKE, the small visual effects studio he works for in Minneapolis. The spot was viewed by executives at Current TV, a cable television network that focuses on viewer-created content and whose chairman is Al Gore.

They called Ibele and asked him to submit it to the V-CAM (viewer-created ad message) campaign that Current has launched for advertisers including Sony, Toyota and L'Oreal. But first they did a little fact-checking. "I brought (the spot) into Sony and said, 'Come on! You guys did this,'" recounts Colin Decker, creative director at Current TV. "And they said, 'No.'"

"Traditional marketing methods have fallen short," Decker said in explaining why he expects viewer-created ads to take off in the market, particularly for the 18- to 34-year-olds who watch Current TV. "This demographic does not respond positively to something overly produced hard sell."

In the Current TV V-Cam campaign, viewers can enter video for any of seven campaigns and get paid $1,000 if their spot is chosen to run on the network. Toyota wants ads for its new Yaris car, L'Oreal Paris is marketing its High-Intensity-Pigments line of cosmetics and seeking a video testimonial to celebrate "Women of Worth." Sony is marketing its Handycam and Walkman, as well as looking for general ads that represent its style.

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