Brands-Leveraged-Crowdsourcing1Open innovation comes in many forms. Crowdsourcing is one of them. Jeff Howe first coined the word ‘crowdsourcing’ back in 2006

“Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.”

This definition holds true even today. In an earlier article, we spoke of some examples where local government agencies had effectively used crowdsourcing to solve issues of public interest. But crowdsourcing is not limited to the public domain. Many consumer brands have also leveraged crowdsourcing effectively.

With consumer brands, crowdsourcing is not just about saving costs, reaching out to larger pool of experts, solving problems innovatively or creating new products. For companies, large or small, crowdsourcing is also a very effective marketing and branding tool. Crowdsourcing campaigns engage participates, gets them involved, thinking for, and about the brand, thereby creating lasting impressions.

In this article, we take a look at some top consumer brands that have used this method.

1.     Budweiser: Black Crown Beer

Budweiser is easily America’s best selling beer. Wanted to do something different aka create a craft beer worth of the Budweiser tag – they started Project 12 as a competition between the brewmasters from their 12 regional breweries, and later took it to the ‘crowd’. The reached out to consumer-collaborators to taste and rank the Project 12 brews. Inputs from more than 25,000 collaborators helped finalize the winning brew, finally called “Black Crown”.

2.     Coca-Cola: Crowdsourcing Happiness – Smile Back

Well, Coca-Cola does have a very effective branding, and really good marketing the world over. You can get a coke almost anywhere in the world. But when looking for a new campaign, instead of turning to an agency, they turned to the crowd. Not just once, but repeatedly. For one of the film series campaigns, ideas were first crowdsourced, top ideas were put to vote with Coca Cola employees the world over voting for their favorite idea. “Smile Back” emerged as the winning idea. The next step in the campaign – the filming and production – was also outsourced. See the final film here. You can’t help but smile.

3.     Frito-Lays: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken and Waffles, Sriracha

Who would’ve thought these would be chip flavors? When Frito Lays wanted to inject some new flavors into the market, instead of turning to inhouse designer, they turn directly to the consumers. With the “Do Us a Flavor” campaign Lays reached out to consumers to submit creative and tasty ideas for new chip flavors. The campaign was launched via Facebook and the winners were selected by open voting. Rather than have an internal R&D lab try to guess consumer preferences and predict market trends, Lays reached out to the people that mattered the most – the consumers – to come up with new flavors. And awarded $1 million to the winner. The unlikely trio listed above were the top 3 flavors for 2012. Since then, the campaign has been run every year, and even netted Lays 7.1 million Facebook fans!

4.     Oreo: The Daily Twist

This crowdsourcing campaign took a cookie that has not changed in over a 100 years, and brought it to the forefront of social media. Oreo chose to celebrate its centenary year with the “Daily Twist” a 100-day series of cookie designs based on each day’s news. It invited people to propose news topics, and on for the last day, choose the winning design. The campaign concluded on Times Square with live crowdsourcing. The brand asked its social media followers to propose ideas, creatives screened them down to 8 finalists, which were then put to vote, again on social media. The winner was the design for the anniversary of the first high-five.

Just goes to show that open innovation is truly open. Open innovation methods such as crowdsourcing can be used by governments, large consumer brands, start ups and colleges alike. Whether it is creating a new product, solving a problem, or engaging consumers, open innovation methods are proving they can deliver.


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