Mozilla, facing renewed competition from industry leader Microsoft, will begin airing user-contributed video ads for its Firefox browser on television tonight, the company announced today. The ads are being shown in San Francisco and Boston with the help of Spotrunner. Those are not exactly the markets most under-served by Firefox, but hey.
Soliciting user evangelists is a touchy topic; contributors aren’t guaranteed to stay “on-message,” and suspicions of under-the-table dealings may provoke backlash. See, for example, reports on the Chevy Tahoe user ad campaign, or blogger outcry about startup PayPerPost. However, Firefox, which fosters an intense level of user devotion mostly due to the quality of its product, has had the most success with this concept of anyone we’ve seen. The real test, of course, is if the ads can actually recruit people who aren’t already card-carrying Firefox users.
We wrote about the contest back in the day at Red Herring (registration required), so we’re familiar with many of the ads generated by the original contest. The first set of ads to air are among the more professionally produced of the lot (see Billy’s Browser and Daredevil). Internet fan favorite Whee! was apparently too DIY (or perhaps too blunt?) for a wider audience.
For more detail, Read/Write Web has a writeup of an interview with Asa Dotzler, Mozilla director of community development.