Who is Nick Haley and how did he earn his Gen C credentials?

Apple fan Nick Haley, an 18-year-old “fresher” at University of Leeds, got his first Macintosh computer when he was three. Earlier this year his enthusiasm bubbled over. The new iPod Touch inspired him to create a 30-second TV spot, complete with an infectious musical bed. But this act of creation didn’t earn Mr. Haley his Generation C strips. The “C,” after all, stands for Content, or Co-creation — as I described earlier in this post. No, he truly arrived when he posted the ad on YouTube.

If that were the end of the story, it would be inspiring enough. Here is a young man who acts on the urge to express his love for a brand — and home-grown video production — with like-minded fans and friends.That’s pretty cool.

But as this New York Times piece puts it, “Leave it to Apple to … think differently.” They rung him up, flew him to Los Angeles, and turned his concept into their newest TV spot. Kudos to the production expertise of Apple’s long-time ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, for not distorting Haley’s vision in the final product (it’s a pity they had to ditch the catchy song from the original, by the Brazilian band CSS).

It’s no surprise that Apple gets it when it comes to helping their wired fan base spread the word about their products. I look forward to seeing how many other brands follow suit. For me, at least, user-generated ads will be a major force in slowing down my inclination to zoom past commercials on my DVR.