The New York Times article The High Price of Creating Free Ads covers Heinz’s contest in which its customers are challenged to create their own television advertisement for Heinz Ketchup. The subtext of the article seems to be this: Leave this kind of work to the professionals.
Note that while advertising execs and a couple of contest entrants are interviewed in the article, there isn’t a single quote from “the audience”. Perhaps the constraints of a press deadline would’ve made it too hard to gather some “average person” reviews of some submitted ads, but it would’ve been informative. Remember that the original ads for HeadOn (“HeadOn! Apply directly to the forehead!”) were created by professionals and apparently passed focus group muster.
In my opinion, at least one of the customer-submitted ads is quite good. I laughed out loud when it hit the punchline, and I thought it would work perfectly in “edgy” time slots, such as Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (or in Canada, Teletoon’s The Detour):