alan_edgarAlan Edgar, a Creative Director at Ogilvy Joburg, smiles. A lot. People often guess what his guilty secret is. Well, here it is… he absolutely loves what he does and is constantly baffled that somebody is willing to pay him to do it. “I can’t believe that I spend all day in the company of the industry’s brightest, most inspiring (yet humble) people – and share an office with a baldy guy who makes me laugh ‘til my face aches”. So now people can stop guessing. He writes about some of the work that makes him love what he does so much:

Arguably, there are few exceptionally wonderful things in this world that were created by one person alone. I’m the same – as much as I’d like to take all the credit for my two gorgeous-looking daughters, I also have to admit that my wife did play a small part in their birth.

At some time we’ve all been pushed, cajoled, aided, inspired (and on occasion, threatened) to produce “things” of pure brilliance. Think about it – Bill Gates had Paul Allen, John had Paul (and later Yoko), Picasso’s muses were his hundreds of women and Freud had his mother (quite literally, some historians would suggest…)

Marketers too have realised that it’s the same with their brands. Today’s most powerful ones, dominating the globe, are those which have gone way beyond simple customer engagement to adoption and (some) evangelical devotion. Ones such as Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter; they’d be nothing without the public who have created their content.

And there are myriad others who have also woken up to, and harnessed, the power of co-creation to build billion dollar companies. I’d like to share a few case studies that are not only financially staggering but they make me go, “Ahh! I wish I’d done that!” because they’re so bloody clever.

(I just have to say thanks in advance to Stefan and Gabi for co-creating some of this content with me).

Project Re:Brief-Introduction

This is a wonderful example of how some of the smartest brains of today (those sitting in the Googleplex) got together with the best advertising minds of 40 years ago to co-create a truly astonishing, heart-warming campaign.

In 2011, Google partnered with four global brands in an advertising experiment. The goal was simple – how can the ideas that defined the advertising industry in its infancy, inspire a whole new generation of creatives and marketers? Together they re-imagined and remade their most iconic ad campaigns from the 1960′s and 1970′s with today’s technology, led by the creative legends who made these campaigns:

See how one of the projects, Harvey Gabor’s Re-imagining Coca-Cola “Hilltop”, rolls out from start to finish in this 11 minute video. I love the humility of the Google youth, the respect they show this old advertising veteran and how together they create something that brings this world of ours a little bit closer together – one coke at a time.

After watching it my heart was singing, “This is why I love my job, this is why I love advertising!”

COCA-COLA Happiness Truck

Lastly, for Coke, check out this beautiful little movie made in one of the poorest favelas, or shanty towns, in Brazil – a place where they probably need all the happiness they can get. I don’t know if this is so much a demonstration of a co-creation as it is an activation, but because the people were so willing to engage and gave their permission to share the experience I’ll take creative license and say it still falls into the category of co-creation. Either way you look at it, it’s a lovely piece.

SONY – Foam City

An oldie but a goodie. Talk about co-creation! Here Sony offered the chance for 200 average people to become cameramen for a day and help them film their latest TV commercial. They gave them each a Sony camera to record the day’s event in their community; which simply involved unleashing 475 million litres of foam onto a small suburb in Miami and letting nature take its course (ha!) – and in return for posting their footage online they got to keep the camera. Niiice.

All the uploaded footage was then edited into a beautifully emotional ad that illustrated perfectly how even an average Joe could produce an incredibly professional result. Talking of results: all of Sony’s stock, depicted in the ad, sold out completely on both sides of America that same month the ad burst.

Nike World Cup

We all know (don’t we?) the epic TV ad that won a Grand Prix at Cannes? But are you familiar with the social media campaign that supported it? I particularly want to showcase it because it’s arguably one of the most participated-in, consumer co-creation campaigns in history – as well as being the most successful. Check out these figures then watch the magic.

During and after the tournament, orders for Nike products increased 7% globally. The Nike Football Facebook page quadrupled from 1.1 to over 4.8 million. It currently has over 12 million fans. There have been 40 million + online views of the film and 2.1 billion online impressions of the campaign. During the summer Nike had 30% brand buzz, twice as much as Adidas (who were the official sponsor and pissssssed off beyond belief), helping Nike become the most shared brand online in 2010. “The most successful World Cup in Nike’s history”, said Mark Parker, Nike CEO. Clever buggers.

Let’s end off on two musical co-creation stories, British singer Lily Allen and Madonna both had the idea of inviting their fans to audition to try win the honor of appearing in their respective music videos. You don’t have to imagine the excitement that was generated – you can see it in the results; pure euphoria on some of the fans’ faces translates into the most genuine, heart-warming performances you’ll ever see.

With Lily, 2000 people from around the UK were filmed singing The Fear for the promo of her Xbox ‘Sing it with Lips’ game campaign. And apparently Madonna’s request for entries generated submissions from over 2 million fans globally.

See for yourself if you think it was worth all the effort.

The last word on co-creation… a far more “brainier” person than I told me last week that consumers were cats, not dogs; dogs jump about excitedly when you get home – cats are simply thankful that their slaves have returned to open the next can of pilchards. She believes that consumers don’t really give a damn about what we do, or what we’re trying to sell, and you know what? She’s probably right.

And that’s our challenge – it’s up to us to get them to notice, to be enthused, to get involved; just like Coke, Nike and Sony have managed to do. Fact is: life is busy but nobody is too busy to join in, and co-create, with something that inspires them.

Maybe the next time you’re asked your opinion on a new campaign perhaps we should be asking, “Is it something that would inspire me to participate? To co-create? To help build this brand?” And if the answer isn’t “Yes” then maybe we shouldn’t be producing it at all.

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