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Instead, the plan boomeranged when hundreds of environmentalists and activists against sport utility vehicles sent ads bashing the so-called "gas-guzzling" Tahoes.

Gary Stein, director of strategy for Ammo Marketing, said that should be a lesson: Don't pursue a tactic without an overall strategy.

"They latched onto this tactic, but they didn't take into account that they are tapping into an enormous well of negative sentiment about their product," he said.

As a result, Chevy got pinned with negative publicity associated with the Tahoe.

Despite Chevy's misstep, Howe said the advantages of crowdsourcing were clear.

It can provide companies with fresh ideas, information on what is interesting, and the ability to define what is done in the future.

"In a lot of cases the audience you are tapping may know more than your actual employees," Howe said.

Other times, it can be cost-saving. Viewer submissions can cost a fraction of what a production team would.

But Stein said it was not just about the economics.

"As an advertiser, you do this because it will attract people to an ad. Your ad is all of a sudden an event," he said.

The trend shouldn't be seen as a threat to ad copywriters or designers, though, he said.

"It's just another tactic that we can use," he said.

He predicted that the fad may already be winding down. "There's only so much you can do."

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