Co-Creation – Consumer in the Driver’s Seat

Recently we were visiting NY and went into the Nike store. I needed some training shoes, as I finally had to say goodbye to my old Nike’s that I had been wearing for 10+ years. While in the store, I asked my daughter Alara, if she wanted a pair too and picked up some alternatives from the shelf. She kindly rejected and told me she wants Nike ID shoes. She took me to a computer nearby and to my amazement started creating her own signature shoes with the exact color combo, material type and even the name she wanted to put on each shoe!

nikealara-01Like Alara, consumers are no longer satisfied in making ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decisions about what companies offer to them as products and services. They want more – the freedom of choice to interact with companies through a range of experiences. This is where co-creation comes into play, as the practice to develop products and services in collaboration between companies and consumers. Co-creation of any form imbeds that experience. If our co-creativity experience is a pleasurable one, we become advocates quicker since part of us is part of the brand.

Today, I would like to share with you some best in class examples of co-creation that demonstrate varying levels of ownership and control from the angle of consumers and companies and with individual participation of consumer or as a part of a bigger group.

1.  Consumers can co-create custom made products with companies. In this case, the company’s role is to provide the set of tools for the consumer to customize their products without letting go of too much control. Nike ID is the perfect example for this.

doritos2. Consumers can be the co-creators of communication for brands: Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ is an excellent example for this. The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the American National Football League. Many now consider the day the Super Bowl is played a de facto American national holiday called the ‘Super Bowl Sunday’.  In 2011, Super Bowl became the most watched American TV program in history, drawing 111 million viewers. Because of its high viewership,  companies develop special advertising for this event. Doritos since 2006, has been organizing an online contest called ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ among consumers asking them to develop a 30 second spot which would be aired in Super Bowl if it became a finalist voted by the people. And they offer up to $1 million price if the spot gets to have #1 rank in USA Today Ad meter measure. With this smart co-creation idea, Doritos has been gaining advocates and instead of spending it’s budget on creating its own advertising, using it as reward for its passionate creative consumers. Enjoy the 2012 winner ‘Sling Baby’ from this link:

cokeAnother Company that is mastering co-creation is Coke. For the 2012 Cannes Creativity Festival, they worked with Eyeka, the co-creation community agency we are partnering with in Turkey. Eyeka leverages the creative power of 230.000+ creative consumers in 150+ countries. They asked creative consumers to ‘interpret Coca-Cola as an energizing refreshment in their own style’. 2500+ consumers from 70+ countries answered the brief and in as short as 4 months Coke had 2 runner up TV spots for the Cannes Creativity Festival and some amazing print ads created purely by consumers.

edding3. Consumers can co-create together for a shared passion. In this case, the company’s role is to create and manage the platform for the consumers to connect and belong to a movement to express themselves. Edding Pen ‘Wall of Fame’ in Germany is a great example of this.  With 40.000 people joining from 100+ countries to write and draw illustrations alongside each other on an endless online wall, inspiring each other, leaving comments and sharing their work. Guest appearances from famous international illustrators make the experience even more rewarding. All this gets reflected on outdoor billboard ads as well, where the online and the offline are fully leveraged to celebrate the creativity of consumers with a passion for illustration. All made possible by Edding Pens.

bmw4. Consumers can be co-creators in the product development phase of future initiatives: A great example of co-creation as ‘collective engineering’ between companies and selected talented consumers is the BMW ‘Future of Mobility’ project. In launching its first electric car BMW has undertaken a game-changing social experiment – working with consumers, defining them as ‘electronouts’. These consumers were active participants as product developers, info clarifiers, and message vehicles. These electronouts have identified a key insight around the ‘anxiety of the red battery light’ for the electrical car and have helped develop an Apple application, that showed the place of close by charging stations; a track record of when they usually charge their car, how much gas they save and its correspondence in number of trees saved and provided data points for where they traveled for how long and which electronics they used in the car for potential communication opportunities.

muppetMy NY experience ended with a visit to the famous Fao Schwarz Toy Store. This time though I wanted to be in the seat of the ‘creative consumer’. I decided to create a ‘puppet of me’ at the Muppet Show stand to give to my best friend.  All the ‘tools’ to create this customized puppet were at my service. I just picked and Fao Muppet Show team put them together for me. Kermit had always been one of my favorite puppets but I know now I’m a life long fan of the Muppet Show, as ‘I’ joined the cast, too!

Happy creating!


Serfi Altun
Idea Chef

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