As CGM revs up, anybody
can get in on the act(s)

Consumer-generated media is taking a quantum leap thanks to American Express - which is inviting all and sundry to post their own stories in the online versions of magazines, and even virtually interact with a celebrity comedian.

Thanks to two new initiatives by American Express, CGM opps just got a lot more enticing. In one instance, the credit card company is morphing its celeb spokesperson, Ellen DeGeneres, into an avatar. The virtual version of the popular comedian and talk show star will host – a newly created website on which visitors will have the chance to create virtual comedy with Ellen and her animal buddies (who also star with her in a dynamite new TV and cinema spot for AMEX).

On the interactive site – created by AMEX’s digital agency, Digitas – users can choose from six animated stories featuring a range of animals in settings such as a karaoke bar or a ski slope. They can then concoct their own comedic input and upload the audio by phone or through a text-to-speech function. That content will then be mixed with DeGeneres’ material for posting on an on-site gallery, forwarding to friends, or embedding in comic-wannabes’ MySpace profiles.

Simultaneously – in a move that’s unusual in that it’s aimed not at tech-savvy young’uns, but primarily older and more affluent folks – American Express Publishing is enabling consumers to post their own stories, reviews, recipes and travel tips to the web pages of such upscale magazines as Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Travel & Leisure Golf and Food & Wine. This will be accomplished on the Wetpaint social networking site, which is fast becoming a fave of other marketers including AOL, T-Mobile, Palm and ABC, which has a fan site on Wetpaint for its Lost series.