Monday, July 2, 2007

Hungry for Fame? Crowdsourcing Goes Bananas

Companies are increasingly using YouTube to source (or sauce, as in the case of Heinz’s Top This TV Challenge) their advertising campaigns. It seems such a sound idea: asking your audience why they love your brand so intensely – surely better than paying an advertising agency millions to develop the killer hook? After all, this way you get direct buy-in: your fans will be part of the process that keeps them as fans: a self-perpetuating cheerleading society. So, all you need is a camcorder and a great idea for a commercial to be played during Superbowl. There is now considerable precedent for asking people to write your jingles: NFL, Doritos (allegedly with a $12 budget!), and Dove have all done the vox pop.

Problem is, when you go to the people, you must be prepared for their opinion. Firstly, not everyone is going to read the rules, or if they do, be willing to comply with them. And anyone can post to YouTube, so there’s probably going to be a bunch tagged with your product that you have to spend time censoring. Naturally, all this vetting and auditing takes time. (Did you really go into this for cost savings?)
Secondly, what happens when the winner’s announced and the crowds aren’t well pleased? Enter, the Malibu rum rebellion.
There is considerable conjecture that the whole competition was staged, as documented by the following videos: Guilty or not guilty?, and here:
NY Times 6.27.07 no conspiracy MALIBU RUM fraud & liars.

Time and again, relationships are demonstrated to exist on trust. Unless you’re prepared to defend your credibility, it’s probably not a good idea to open your company to crowdsourcing.

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