MARKETING BY THE MOB - THE POWER OF “YOU”!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
“Team sunegi, duniya dekhegi;” it’s your chance to tell Mumbai Indians how to play. And if that’s not enough, then for a cricket crazy nation there is more. You can help Kolkata Knight Riders by actually coaching them, for this time, Shahrukh is asking for your suggestions & making you a coach of his team. “Main bhi coach,” sums up the Indian mentality where everybody sitting in front of their TV sets knows the exact “winning mantra” for each match. This time, a lot of IPL teams are asking you, and rewarding you too for your suggestions. Why?


“You” – the new advertising guru

The chocolate bar ‘Picnic’ seemed to have run-out of an ad agency, when in February this year, it invited consumers to create their own advertisements, where they had to film themselves attempting to eat a Picnic in 30 seconds flat. The best films would be the new commercials for the brand and would be aired on TV. Seeing the super success of involving the crowds, Australia’s bankrupt radio station FBi 94.5FM asked its listeners to come out with innovative ways of asking music-loving billionaire Richard Branson to save the radio. People came up with the most creative ideas… from baking 5000 cupcakes with Branson’s face, to one enthusiast even swimming up to Branson’s private island to ask for his help. Branson finally called up the radio station & gave a donation last month. A great campaign more-so, considering the client was already bankrupt!

The mob can do magic if you hit the right spot. In 2006, Doritos asked people to make their own ads of the chips, upload it on the Doritos website and the most voted ad would be aired during the Super bowl, with the winner taking away $10,000. Last year (2009), the prize money went up to $1 million, but that’s not the point; for the first time in 10 years the king of beers, Anheuser-Busch was dethroned as the king of “Super Bowl Commercials” by the Doritos ad, made by an amateur on a measly $2000 budget. Not only did this show that just because you are a big ad agency, you have the best ideas, but that a great idea can come from anywhere, so just don’t forget the mob.

In February last year, Bingo asked people to create games, quizzes et al, around the theme “Bingo har angle se mmmm...” It got the wackiest of responses from someone suggesting George Bush should say “M sending Bingo Chilli Dhamaka to Iraq”… and not bombs to a blind man seeing with his mind’s eye how “yumm” the chips were.

Lays went a step further. Forget an advertisement, now you could create your own flavour and win Rs.50 lakh + 1% of the product’s sales revenue. “Be a little dillogical”; well, nobody was complaining even though the award seemed “illogical” or rather too good to be true!

“You” – the new product developer

Lays did it in India, Kettle chips did it in USA, and it was all about asking you to become a flavor artist and create a chip & win prizes too.

Adidas asked users to express their individuality and design their own shoe with the help of an expert. Lego provided its users with a software to help people design the LEGO of their dreams. It proved the coolest way to capture complete attention & imagination of your target audience and involve them totally with your brand, at almost no extra cost.

P&G realised it, when its then CEO, A.G. Lafley, found that he was running out of ideas and it was getting impossible to keep up with the demands of consumers. P&G’s Connect + Develop was launched to ask customers to help. Its “Pringles Prints”, where interesting things were printed directly on the chips was launched at almost no cost & in no time. Through ‘Connect’, it found a small bakery in Italy which could do the job for them. This proved cheaper & faster than developing the process in-house.

Netflix, the on-line movie rental company, has a software that helps identify what kind of films its customers like & then recommends similar films to them. If the customers liked the recommendations, it would only mean more business for Netflix. It launched a contest where anyone who could increase the efficiency of its existing software by 10% would get $1 million. The plan worked & the winning team took away the moolah. The plan was so effective that they plan a repeat this year too, but again, for just a million dollars!

This seems to be the time for doing business “with” real people. Not just “with”, sometimes products are designed “of ” the people too. Burger King in Brazil took the tagline “Have it your way” to a whole new level, when they decided to install a secret camera, which took customers’ pictures and printed them on wrappers of their burgers! The crowd loved it completely!

“Me and Meri Maggi” – that’s how Nestlé decided to celebrate its 25 years of Maggi, with who else but “You”. Maggi is nothing without its consumers (as is true for every brand), and every body has a “Maggi story” to tell. So now, you could share your “Maggi moments” and your recipe with the world & get famous too. Your picture would be printed on the package. No celebrities, but the consumer is important, for it’s a loyal crowd that builds a big brand. Cleary, this brand is proof that today, business is being redefined as – “for” the people, “by” the People, “of ” the People.

“You”– the new company

Crowd souring seems to be a profitable model for businesses. “Innocentive” is a company that has made a whole new business out of this. It uses the global brainpower to develop new products, new commercials, new virals – whatever. A global brainstorming to solve your problems – can you beat that? Every solution has a reward and big corporation (P&G used Innocentive to launch Pringles print) is asking Innocentive for help. Rockefeller foundation wants a low-cost water treatment system & offers $15,000 to the winner. So if you have an idea, share it and earn too!

New products have a notoriously high rate of failure, for many times companies fail to understand customers. “Trend Hunters” is a new business that helps you spot “trends”, and the latest trend it has spotted is “Next Besting” – how people are choosing almost-as-good-budget friendly options over expensive ones. So, if you want to feel the pulse of the crowd you may want to visit “Trend Hunters”.

The most talked about thing on the Internet called “YouTube” is the best example of consumer generated content. Even IPL’s viewership is increasing, now that you can see the matches on YouTube. Soon, you would have set-top boxes, which would stream digital content on your big TV, Satellite TV! Beware, You- Tube could render you redundant soon!

“You”... all the way!


The common man is a bigger hit than a celebrity. Look at TV – the most popular shows are the “Reality Shows” with ‘real’ people & not ‘paid actors’. People believe movie reviews given by the commoner, more than those given by the critics. Magazines are asking readers to send-in their pictures & their stories, and these are more popular than those delivered by trained journalists

In May 2008, 50,000 citizens in Estonia, on a single day cleaned up the city. It was something that would have taken the government 3 years & 22 million euros! Some motivated individuals used the power of the mob & did it. This year the people of Portugal did the same. Forget business, how about doing it for our own country? After all we all know, whenever you’ve got a knotty problem that you can’t solve you know what to do – call the mob!