A big part of our beliefs here at HubSpot is that people are getting better and better at tuning out all kinds of interruptive advertising. The implication of this fact is that advertising itself needs to change, and that brands need to find new ways to engage with customers.

So here's an idea: why not let customers create your ads for you? What if you let them promote your brand for you, and have fun in the process?

That's the basic idea behind an app called Snaps, which lets people create photo mashups -- like you and the characters from Despicable Me 2, or your kid running next to Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco.

"Let fans become your Brand Ambassadors" is the pitch on the Snaps website.

Is It Still An Ad If I Had Fun Making It?

Snaps makes it easy for people to create those mashups. Then you can share them on Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, and Tumblr. Snaps makes money by charging brands to participate.

So far its clients include Kate Spade, Deloitte, Lifetime, Travel Channel, Wendy's, Nestle and Showtime.

For TV shows and movies, the fit is obvious, which is probably why one of the company's original investors was Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of United Talent Agency, a big Hollywood talent agency.

The company was founded in 2011 and was originally called GoldRun. CEO and founder Vivian Rosenthal tells TechCrunch the company is seeing rapid growth in the number of downloads and active users -- more than doubling every month. To keep things moving, Snap just raised another $2.3 million in venture funding.

Some Examples

Here's a mashup promoting the Kelly and Michael show:


Here's one for Despicable Me 2:


And one for Ice Age: Continental Drift:


Cute, right? Snaps may not be great for every brand and every product, but it's worth knowing about, and it speaks to a larger trend. 

It's All About You

Brands have been getting more and more human and personalized thanks to social media and an emphasis on content, not mass media advertising. But with Snaps, this is about letting the brand enter into people's personal lives. The person is the main focus of the image. The brand appears in a natural setting -- a human setting. The brand has become part of what people are doing in their day-to-day lives.

Snaps is not the only technology doing this, but it is representative of a trend in which people are allowing companies to enter into more intimate, personalized spaces of their lives -- not just the blocks reserved for advertising and not just the small moments in time when people click over to a branded destination and create content there.

It's a brave new world. And we'll probably see a lot more of this kind of thing as companies like Instagram and Pinterest start looking for ways to make money on their enormous user bases.


Originally published Sep 27, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023