11 of the 12 Best Global Brands use creative crowdsourcing


Click on the image to get to Interbrand’s poster of the 100 Best Global Brands

UPDATE (Sep 19th 2012): To find a visual and interactive illustration of all the cases listed below, see my timeline of crowdsourcing initiatives by brands

This is going to be a loooooong post – eventually. I will try to list all the creative crowdsourcing initiatives that I know of, applied to Interbrand’s ranking of the 100 Best Global Brands. I eagerly invite you to contribute with your knowledge because I might miss some – what do I say – I will miss some of them. Why list all these crowdsourcing initiatives? I would like this post to be another way to show how big creative crowdsourcing is getting in marketing and innovation. I hope you like it. And again, please share the creative crowdsourcing initiatives (contests, engagement platforms, challenges etc.) that I missed – and let us stick to the brands (not the parent companies). Thanks!


1) Coca-Cola: I extensively covered Coke’s co-creative initiatives here, among which I cited a video/animation contest for Coke Zero (eYeka), which was held in 2009 and open to Singaporean creatives only. Another contest for the brand Coca-Cola was held about two years later, but this time it was global (eYeka). As this video shows, it received a huge number of creations from all over the world, and this shorter video shows that this response allowed the brand to crack a major positioning problem.

Another crowdsourcing contest was being spnsored by the German branch of Coca-Cola: it was a contest to redesign the Coca-Cola cradle (Jovoto).  There is also a great video available on their website, where you can see and hear David Butler, Coca-Cola’s global VP of Design, talking about crowdsourcing and its value for a company like Coca-Cola: “This is the future because we live in a reality of more transparency and connectivity than ever before. What we’re doing in Germany is indicative of the future, it is part of how we will operate going forward.

This is just the beginning of how we will design in the future

I also found that Coca-Cola seems to have used a Brazilian platform (YouCreate), because there’s a quite of  Coca-Cola’s CMO for Brazil in the “customers” section. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a project attached to it. Coca-Cola also collaborates with MoFilm, an American platform for crowdsourced video ad production. They often do competitions where they invite winners to festival locations and an award ceremony, and you can see the winners of the 2011 Coke Zero competition here (Mofilm). The same competition has been held this year, in 2012, and the winning video was made by Hugh Mitton… who also won the eYeka contest in 2011! Coca-Cola is taking the collaboration a little further with the next one, the Coke Zero Short Film Competition, that goes until September this year.


2) IBM: The company is very famous for its Jams, which are big internal crowdsourcing events in a way, and which have been launched in 2001. The 2006 Innovation Jam was the largest IBM online brainstorming session ever held, gathering more than 150,000 people from 104 countries and 67 companies.  Today, there are Jams for everything (innovation, security, energy…) and targeted towards various internal and external contributors (employees, students, academics…). This video about Jams looks a little bit outdated, but its name (A Decade of Jamming) suggests that its rather recent. You can see and hear Liam Cleaver from IBM’s Jams and Collaborative Innovation program office discuss Jams and how they can transform an enterprise, industry or ecosystem.

Jams serve as a spark, really a catalyst for change within an organization. It’s a way to really harness the creativity and innovation of a group of people


3) Microsoft: The first use of crowdsourcing that Microsoft used to our knowledge was in 2009, whith an advertising contest on Zooppa. The brief asked the crowd to highlight how businesses can use Microsoft software to build an online presence. In 2011, the brand sponsored another contest on Zooppa, this time for Windows Phone. In a nutshell, the brief asked the crowd to show that the Windows Phone can do as much as competing devices. The winning entries are all made by senior or pro videomakers, providing Microsoft with rather good quality content. In 2012, Microsoft sponsored a competition on the Dutch platform Brandfighters, and the winning entry is really poor quality… I wonder the brand has ever used this piece of content!?

Last year, Microsoft started a blog to act as point of dialogue between the company’s developers working on Windows 8 and the general public. Memeburn called it a “crowdsourcing blog” but it’s actually no more than a blog with possibility to comment… But Microsoft did some creative crowdsourcing to get content about  Microsoft’s products for teachers throughout the world both as documentaries (eYeka) and teacher interviews (eYeka). They also did a contest on the same platform to promote technology as a way to bring families together (eYeka), thanking the participants with a video. The output of this contest was used as part of the signgle ad campaign, with wich Microsoft wanted to market its entire range of Microdoft-branded products.

Similarly to Coca-Cola above, Microsoft also uses the site MoFilm for video content production. In 2011, it was about producing short movies about Microsoft 7 as you can read in their creative brief; and the winners are visible here (MoFilm).


4) Google: Google launched quite a lot of creative crowdsourcing initiatives. For a company that makes money with peoples’ activity on the web, they have the DNA for it! For example, in 2009 they did a video contest to promote Google Chrome in Brazil (Zooppa) and another one to create a video of people building the Google Chrome icon (Google).  In 2010, they launched the Google Demo Slam for creative writers to make videos featuring Google tools for the chance to be promoted by the company. Google even crowdsources internally, as the Googley Art Wall contest shows (see here).

Did you know that this logo got crowdsourced too? It was inspired by the design submitted by a computer sciende undergraduate from Brazil (click on the image to find out more)

There was also that design contest in France to ask people to redesign the “eating”, “drinking” and “going out” pins for Google Maps (eYeka), and on the same platform, in 2011, a video contest was held ask French people to tell a story using Google tools (eYeka). Another crowdsourcing initiative that Google sponsored was featured on the platform Changemarkers, which focuses on social innovation and the non-for-profit sector in general. The project, called Citizen Media, asked people to highlight innovative uses of media that empower citizens to take action. Un fortunately I only found the brief in French, but it seemed to be international since the winning entries came from the USA, the Middle East, or India.


5) GE: I mentioned GE’s open innovation engagement already. The most famous example is probably GE’s Ecoimagination challenge that they launched in 2010 to gather eco-friendly business ideas that GE would fund (BrightIdea). To engage consumers around this challenge, GE also launched a contest on the video crowdsourcing platform Poptent. The winning entries were purchased by the brand and used on the Ecoimagination YouTube page. The second edition of the challenge saw the birth of a “little sister” challenge: Healthymagination with which GE has similar objectives, but with ideas to fight cancer (Brightidea).

In 2011, they did run a contest an Instagram photo contest, won by a Wisconsin-based photographer and pilot whose photo you can see here. Also, there’s a currently live video competition asking people to make a three-minute movie about people or organizations that had positive impact on humanity (Cinelan). And much more recently, GE partnered up with the social product development platform Quirky, which crowdsources product ideas and turns them into real-world products. The objective was to find ideas to “make everyday products smarter”, and the winning idea was that of a milk jug that alerts you when the milk is gone bad.


6) McDonald’s: Back in 2007, McDonalds held a “Global Casting” contest to get images of real people to be used on all cups and bags (see the Electronic Press Kit). They received 13,000 entries and chose 24 faces to be rolled out on all packagings worldwide, starting with the United States and Canada. The same year, in Australia, McDonald’s asked local consumers to create and name a burger when “burger naming legend” Ken Thomas retired from McDonald’s Autralia. They finally chose McOZ.

In France the McDonald’s logo is green! This is a sign to show the company’s sustainability efforts, and this positioning was also the topic of a graphic design and photo contest held in France, by which the company wanted to know how to best communicate its sustainability policy (eYeka). In Germany, McDonald’s has had huge success with its initiative Mein Burger (My Burger) where people could design their own burger via McDonalds.de. They got 116,000 submitted burgers and 1,5 million votes! This type of crowdsourcing project is not really creative (choices are limited) and not really innovation-related, but it’s a great way to generate buzz arond a brand! Check out some of the financial results of “Mein Burger” here.

Recently, Mc Donald’s USA held a video contest to dictate the expression “on-the-go” to promote its new Chicken McBites (Tongal).


7) Intel: The first project I found is an open innovation competition that was launched in 2008 and awarded in 2009. It is very similar to what IBM does with it Jams: ideaconnection relates that “the intent was to encourage individuals and organizations to come up with new ideas and to think of new ways of applying technology to solve problems around economic development, education, the environment and healthcare“. Winners invented concepts for the United States and Africa. If I get it right, Intel relaunched the initiative in 2009 under the name of Inspire-Empower Challenge.

Moving away from scientific creativity and towards artistic creativity: Intel co-sponsored creative contests on different platforms. Poptent relates how Intel used the creative crowdsourcing service to source videos about ultra-thin mlaptops in 2010. Two videos were purchase by the brand and posted on an internal blog, Inside Scoop, a,d on the company’s YouTube channel. Another example has been co-sponsored by Intel with Asus, it was a video contest around the theme of “The Search of Incredible” in 2011 (Zooppa) and a video & print contest around “What Does Intel Mean to You?” focused around music in 2012 (Zooppa). Another one was held on a global platform with Dell, around the (somehow mysterious) topic “Taken for Granted” (eYeka).

Last but not least: Intel is currently crowdsourcing photos, time-lapses, and slow motion videos via YouTube, in a campaign called A Momentary Lapse. you can see the entries as they come in… there are 50,000$ worth of prizes, as well as the possibility to see one’s creation featured in Intel’s online campaigns.


8) Apple: That’s a tough one. Any suggestions? I mean do you know of any real crowdsourcing initiative launched by Apple that is not a kind of “selective co-creation“?


9) Disney: On Zazzle, Disney has its own page Zazzle.com/Disney. You might say that is not creative crowdsourcing but merchandising – not it isn’t! There are 89,927 products on sale, I doubt that they are all officially licensed by The Walt Disney Company (by the way, I’d be curious to know how they deal with copyrights). In 2010, Disney Consumer Products oficially organized a creative contest on a competing website (Threadless) around the movie TRON Legacy. The winning t-shirt is visible here – you can buy it too.

In 2011, Disney wanted to promote the relaunch of the DVD of The Lion King in France, and to do that they launched a video contest on Disney.fr and the brand’s facebook page (via The Blog TV). The objective was to ask people to reinterpret the funniest parts of the movie in their own style. They received just 30 videos, but the company claims that spots have eventually been used on TV.

More recently, Disney announced a partnership with YouTube, who would get access to exclusive Disney content. James Pitaro, Disney-s co-president that it simply because Disney has “to go where the audience is“. Also, the article says that “Disney is planning to include crowd-sourced materials, as amateur contributions to its YouTube channel will added to the collection on a regular basis“… I wonder if we can really call that crowdsourcing if there’s no top-bottom management (like a contest or something). Wait and see!


10) HP: First of all, I found out that Lionel David, the French founder of the failed crowdsourcing platform CrowdSpirit, was a former HP executive. I know it’s only remotely connected to HP, but I liked the parallel! The first creative contest that I could find on the side of HP is a video contest where people where asked to create something to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the scientific HP Calculator (see here). In another contest in 2009, HP sponsored a contest where users had to share tips about using an HP-branded PC (eYeka). 74 entries have been accepted by the platform, and the winning videos came from Indonesia and the Philippines.

HP also tapped into the crowd for its You on You campaign (remember these video with Jay-Z, Shaun White or Pharrell). They asked regular consumers to do a video in a similar fashion, as you can see in Fast Company’s article here. They highlight that the contest was doing a good job by involving contestants in various phases having them choose one of the pre-approved songs to keep the campaign’s spirit true. Among more than 4,000 submissions on YouTube (which make the contest “one of the most successful YouTube engagement programs to dateaccording to HP), the winner was an animator from Canada who submitted a great video about his passions.

A French blog also related a specific initiative that HP launched in China with Saatchi&Saatchi Beijing. It’s called HP My Stage and it’s based on three successive phases: a design contest for everyone to submit inspirational graphic designs, a music contest where people could vote on selected groups, and a video challenge that was eventually compiled into a movie called A Dog’s Life at College. You can read about the initiative here (sorry, it’s in French again). The Executive Creative Director of Saatchi&Saatchi Beijing, Dean Sciole, said that “HP is the first brand of its category to having embraced UGC […] The Chinese brand Lenovo also did it, but not at this lever of consumer engagement, and not at this scale neither“.

This User-Generated Content campaign is unprecedented in the region (Dean Sciole)

The most recent initative I know of was done for HP’s MagCloud, a self-service content publishing platform for the delivery of professional quality publications in magazine format, in 2011. The contest was simply a means for MagCloud members to show off their work and win a PC (at best); it was hosted on facebook and received only 14 entries, the winner submitted a simple photo.


11) Toyota: The Japanese brand “crowd-sourced” its logo and its brand name back in 1936. Yes, in 1936. According to logoblog.org, the Toyoda Aitomatic Loom Works Ltd. needed a logo to be used on its very first passenger car. I’m not sure about the number of entries they received (this blog says 200, this one says 27,000) but ultimately it was this logo that was chosen, and the brand name was changed to ‘Toyota’. While it’s still being used by the company to tell the story of the brand, Toyota adopted the current logo in 1989 because it was more universal and modern.

In 2010, Toyota USA and Saatchi&Saatchi have used facebook to ask Toyota owners to share their personal stories about owning a Toyota. The initiative was called Auto-Biography and is was kicked-off by a cool animation at the New York Motor Show (see this video). According to the brand, it’s all about “highlighting the fun and excitement of car ownership“. At the end, not only did the brand gather 5,400 stories, but the number of fans on the facebook page also increased significantly. As ClickZ writes, 8 stories have been used to make promotional videos aired on TV and on the web, and the brand even derived some authenticity from this crowdsourcing initiative: “Two themes that were genuine and resonated were the ‘first time buyer’-theme for Corolla and the ‘family pass along’-theme with Camry“, said Bob Zeinstra, national manager of advertising and strategic planning for Toyota Motor Sales in the U.S.

In the same year, the brand launched an initiative called Ideas for Good, by which Toyota asks people to imagine how automotive technology could be used for good outside of this particular industry. Again, Toyota worked with Saatchi&Saatchi, but also with a technical partner, the Carnegie Mellon University. According to FastCompany, the benefits of this crowdsourcing experiment are twofold: the brand gains recognition for some of its more innovative technologies, and it gets to leverage the ideas of the crowd. The winners are shown here; they were invited to attend an “Idea Design Session” and could choose  one of 3 Toyota cars: a Prius, a Highlander Hybrid or a Venza.

In January 2011, Toyota asked people around the world how the Prius car range should be called. “What do you call it when one Prius becomes more?“, the website Toyota Prius Project says about this contest. They rolled out this initiative as a giant vote on facebook, Toyota.com and the social game Car Town, and received about 2,000,000 votes from all over the US. Ultimately, the winner was “Prii”. However, let’s highlight that this type of initiative, just a vote on predetermined options, is not really creative crowdsourcing!

A little bit more creative is the yar.is website. By partnering up with the meme network Cheezburger, Toyota wanted to leverage the power of memes (and the typical humor of the web, LOLcats and the like) to promote its Yaris model. So to “increase favorability and purchase intent while encouraging continual interaction with the vehicle“, there was a series of 6 contests (caption contest, photobomb, rhymes with, looks-like and popular Memes) on yar.is and some of these pictures are really funny!

In early 2012, Toyota UK launched a crowdsourced video competition on facebook and YouTube to promote its brand and the Yaris model to a younger audience. The idea was to allow creative consumers to create a music video in which they rap about what frustrates them in life. Months before, the brand had created reference characters called Gadget & Slick, and this campaign “takes this a step further, giving [young consumers] a great piece of content that is both fun and sharable“, said Toyota’s brand and digital marketing manager to PSFK.


12) Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz is the most famous brand of the Daimler Group, and makes not only cars but also coaches and trucks. One of the founders, Karl Benz, pretty much invented the car in 1886, when he was granted a patent for his first automobile. Today, I’m not sure whether the brand has a very creative image, since the brand stands more for status and class rather than fun and creativity. However, they have made some inroads into creative crowdsourcing, especially to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the brand on a global scale: the Malaysian branch launched a story-telling photo contest (the winning photo is kind of creepy…), the Singaporean branch launched a future-oriented idea contest (see winning entries), and the American branch launched a contest to ask community organizations to present their work, and possibly be awarded 125,000$ (see winning organizations).

But I also found creative crowdsourcing initiatives that were not tied to the 125the anniversary of Mercedes-Benz, like this advertising contest sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Dubai. Unfortunately, I could find out who won this contest. I would also mention two initiatives that are not really creative crowdsourcing: a set of brand videos that were created after the facebook community voted on ideas, and this recent initiative that uses Twitter to share parking spots. But again, that’s not really relying on consumers’ creativity, rather is it asking for data input from them, another type of crowdsourcing.

 [to be continued…]


nokia connecting people




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  2. Hello, Sorry I’m a bit late to the party on this but my names Kerry Gaffney and I work for MOFILM. We’re actually a UK based company, with offices in the USA, China, Mexico, Beijing and Bangalore. As well as the work you’ve mentioned above, we’ve also sourced content for HP, in 2009 (winning film was dream out of the box by Giovanni Caporioni http://my.mofilm.com/video/d6ce61) and for McDonalds in the same year, (winning film was The Proposal by Marco Tessarola, http://my.mofilm.com/video/afbc83). After quick cross check with Interbrand list I can also confirm that we’ve crowdsourced content for Samsung, Gillette, Nokia, Pepsi, Sony, Phillips, Accenture, Dell, Sprite, Visa, Shell, Santander, Adobe, Johnson & Johnson and Johnnie Walker.


    1. Hi Kerry, thanks a lot for your comment. Check out my crowdsourcing timeline and see which one I’ve missed, I’d be happy to add them to the collection of cases. I’ve just updated the Gillette contest (Taj Mahal 2012) today… keep me posted!


      1. Will do – might take a while though! In the meantime, the date for our Coke Zero contest is wrong, it ran from June 2012 to Sept 2012. On the timeline it runs from June 2011.

  3. Always interesting to see what the big corporations are doing. Being a small dealer I doubt we’ll ever get into crowdsourcing but it is very interesting. I loved what Toyota did with their crowdsourcing venture it was pretty cool to see the results.


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