We've talked a lot about how advertisers can take advantage of user-generated content (UGC) to encourage deep brand interactions and to create relevant, low-cost content that advertisers can use in other channels.
Well here's a New York Times story about a lawsuit between Subway and Quiznos over a particular application of this idea. Subway alleges that Quiznos created a user-generated video contest that encourages Quiznos fans to make false claims about the quality of Subway sandwiches. Quiznos defends that it was simply encouraging fans to share their reasons why they prefer Quiznos over Subway.
Here is a video of the winning entry in the Quiznos contest, which received $10,000 and exposure in Times Square. (Not bad)
The court case is scheduled for 2009, so it will be a while before we learn the implications for future campaigns. The fear is that a ruling in favor of Subway could greatly discourage advertisers from using contests that give consumers freedom to express their thoughts on competitive companies.
In my mind, the question is: should a company be responsible for the competitive claims of its customers when that company solicits these comments and then provides a forum to air them to the world?