Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crowd-sourcing goes global

It was interested to hear that Unilever has recently unveiled its new crowd-sourcing campaign. The Unilever Consumer Creative Challenge is the FMCG giant's largest-scale crowdsourcing drive to date. It was unveiled at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. In collaboration with MOFILM, a community of aspiring film-makers, Unilever will seek video content for 13 of its brands: Lynx, Ben & Jerry's, Close Up, Dove deodorant, Wall's ice cream, Knorr, Lifebuoy, Lipton, Comfort, Sure, Surf, Sunsilk and Vaseline. The consumer products group will name five winners for each brand at the London Film Festival in October, and one overall winner who will walk away with £7,000. Unilever plans to use the winning ideas in future marketing campaigns.

This story was featured on Brand Republic and has attracted a number of comments, many of which are not particularly supportive of the brand and its initiative. But what struck me was that no-one had commented on the fact that this was a great example of a cross cultural campaign not to mention an innovative approach to gathering global customer insight. Contestants can enter the competition in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese and so in one coordinated campaign, Unilever will get an insight into the messages and cultural brand associations across a diverse range of countries and cultural groups.

I do agree with some of the views expressed in relation to this story in that sometimes, stories like this do seem to suggest that there is no need for creative departments if we can simply outsource the idea generation function to the public. We often have a similar problem in the translation industry, as many think it is something that they can do themselves or that can be done with an online translation tool. The same answer applies to both. Crowd-sourcing as a vehicle to obtain customer insight will always be valuable to a brand and will continue to grow in popularity, but ultimately there will always be a need to sanity check this input against solid industry experience, theory and wider management information.

Crowd-sourcing has been introduced to the translation world via tools such as Google Translate, but even this isn’t fool proof. According to reports a few months ago, an error in translation was made by an individual with a point to make. Apparently Google was quick to fix the translations, but it draws home the fact that even Google isn’t protected from the desire by individual members of crowd-sourcing applications to take matters into their own hands to lead their own political agenda.

Global crowd-sourcing initiatives that serve to facilitate a two-way dialogue across language and cultural boundaries is an approach which should be commended and will undoubtedly add value to any customer insight programmes, but we should be careful not to let it completely overtake strategies to the point where we lose sight of how important internal expertise and knowledge is too.

To Learn More Click Here
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment