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Mktg – Consumer, the new creative director?

Radhika Sachdev

Last month, Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, sacked Lowe, London, the advertising agency working on its Peperami brand. The story goes that Lowe team had this bright spark about inviting consumers to write advertisements for the sausage snack brand for a prize money of $10,000. The idea was so successful, and Unilever got such fantastic response to it that eventually it decided to fire Lowe, the agency that had served the brand for almost 16 years. The phenomenon, popularly called crowdsourcing, is increasnigly being deployed by marketers to get consumers to interact with their brands much more closely.

Brands such as Doritos, Pringles, Walkers crisps, Heinz, Tide 2 Go, Nissan Cube are using “crowdsourcing” for their advertising campaigns.

The practice is now catching fire in India. Various companies have started getting their consumers directly involved in conceiving and designing their mainstream advertising campaigns. Tata Motors, for instance, launched an online contest for its Indica V2 Xeta brand in which auto lovers were asked to submit their versions of Indica Xeta’s television commercial (TVC) that went with the popular tagline “You gotta be dumb if you miss the peppy new Indica V2 Xeta.”

With the potential of going viral, the contest hosted on ‘www.thexetashootout.com’ ended up generating over 2.5 million impressions, 25,000 clicks, 7,000 registrations and some 1,200 entries. The winner was a 22-years old student, Insha Kapoor, who walked away with a brand new Indica V2 Xeta.

The point to be appreciated in such campaigns is that the participating consumers are no seasoned admen. They are common consumers with no idea about advertising. They, however, do have points of view on their favourite brands and most times, these points are refreshing and imaginative. Auto maker Nissan Inc recently invited regular students to suggest names and design ads for its new model Nissan Cube. The company got an overwhelming response for the contest. “Their creatives were highly imaginative, given the limited resources they work with, ” Robert J Brown, senior manager, marketing communications, Nisaan Inc.

In a similar effort in India, consumer products maker ITC, recently launched an online promotion for its snack brand Bingo! in which consumers were invited to present their own versions of the brand’s existing ad campaign that goes with the tagline—“Bingo Mad Angles—Har Angle Se”.

Consuemrs were asked to submit their entries in video or image format and according to ITC spokesperon, “the contest generated a lot of interactivity with the brand.”

Running from February to March 2009, the top 25 entries won an iPod shuffle each.

“Enabled by web and mobile technologies that make it easy for brands and their agency partners to build a simple infrastructure for their fans to create, share, and discuss assets, such initiatives are more likely to be used as a messaging tactic,” he explains. So do advertising agencies need to worry about the fact that an increasing number of companies now are trying to experiment with “crowdsourcing”?

“No way,” says Ambi MG Parameswaran, executive director, and CEO of DraftFCB Ulka, the agency on the Tata Motors account. “Just as citizen’s journalism, does not mark a kill of regular journalism, consumer involvement in the ad-making process does not spell the demise of the old agency model.”

“A consumer’s interpretation of a brand may not be the same as an agency’s. The consumer would not know all the issues facing the brand, nonetheless, it’s exciting to get them involved,” he says.

Agrees Nissan’s Brown: “There would still be need to have strategic, consultative relationships with agency partners with creative inputs from consumers or fans during the messaging development process.”

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October 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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