Ad campaigns by you, for you

Ad campaigns by you, for you; 

Crowd-sourcing is catching on with firms, govt agencies

The Straits Times, July 27, 2011 Wednesday, Chua Hian Hou , Technology Correspondent


NEED your advertising campaign to strike a chord with consumers’

It’s easy – get them to come up with the ad themselves.

The practice, called ‘crowd-sourcing’, is catching on with companies and even government agencies here.

A Milo ad airing in Toa Payoh Hub. Milo has jumped on the crowd-sourcing bandwagon – it ran a contest earlier this year asking fans to submit videos about what the chocolate-flavoured beverage means to them. — ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN



Milo ran a contest earlier this year asking fans to submit videos about what the chocolate-flavoured beverage means to them. It attracted 14 entries.

The winning one, submitted by undergraduates Lisa Tan and Benny Lim, will be seen not only on video-sharing website YouTube but will also air in cinemas and malls next month.

The 30-second video, which netted its creators $9,000, depicts the story of a girl about to leave for studies overseas. Her parents are seen putting packets of Milo into her suitcase, a symbol of their love for her.

Ms Tan said: ‘We worked around the theme of rootedness. We cherish things only when they’re not with us.’

She added: ‘I can’t really imagine that my voice will be blasting throughout Singapore and that the frames we took will be on the big screen.’

Snack company Kit Kat has also gone into crowd-sourcing. It shortlisted 10 artworks by local artists in a contest called ‘Yer Big Break’, a play on its well-known ‘have a break, have a Kit Kat’ slogan.

Winners will get $1,000 and their entries about what having a break means to them will be used as ads on buses.

Other crowd-sourcing marketing campaigns are in the pipeline, including one by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) to get youth to produce

anti-piracy videos.

An Economic Development Board spokesman said it is exploring the idea of user-generated videos or games to showcase Singapore’s electronics sector, though details are not available yet.

Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon of the National University of Singapore Business School, who specialises in advertising and marketing, said crowd-sourcing appeared several years ago and has since made strides here and overseas.

‘It’s by the people, for the people. The target audience know themselves best. The ads they put up are thus likely to resonate with others like them,’ she said.

Prof Ang explained that crowd-sourcing also gives companies an insight into what consumers think of their product or service, and consumers are in turn delighted that the company is interested in their opinion.

Mr Chow Phee Chat, marketing director for beverages and milk at Milo-maker Nestle Singapore, said consumer-generated videos come across as ‘authentic, credible and heart-warming’.

Prof Ang said other payoffs include cost savings from not having to hire a creative agency to produce the entire ad.

But there can be drawbacks.

Since many of these campaigns are organised online via websites like Facebook, competitors are thus privy to the consumer insights obtained by viewing the entries, Prof Ang said.

In the case of ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry’s contest to name one of its new flavours, entries are submitted via Twitter and are therefore publicly accessible to everyone, its rivals included.

Kit Kat group brand manager Magdalene Tan said running a marketing campaign through crowd-sourcing makes its success tough to predict, since ‘it’s anyone’s guess how the entries will turn out’.

Prof Ang warned that in the worst-case scenario, it can turn out really badly if people do not like the brand at all and use the campaign as a way to trash it.

‘It can take a life of its own and the company may not be able to control it,’ she said.

Despite these issues, marketing specialists believe that crowd-sourcing campaigns could become a fixture in the same way user-generated content has mushroomed on YouTube.

Crowd-sourcing worked out well for Ipos in 2008, with its first trailer campaign drawing 31 ‘quality’ entries, said its spokesman. The submission deadline for this year’s contest, Ipos’ second, is Aug 12.

Milo is planning another campaign too.

But crowd-sourcing will not edge out professional creative agencies which specialise in slicker advertising and marketing campaigns.

Mr Jeff Cheong, Singapore head of creative agency Tribal DDB, said crowd-sourcing is likely to work better for the more ‘fun, playful’ brands than for companies with a more serious message to deliver.

Such companies may prefer to hire an ad agency to have more control over the outcome.

Ms Tan from Kit Kat said that while crowd-sourcing is a good way for the company to gather insights, it may not be instantly applicable to mass communication.

‘A good creative agency is thus still worth its weight in gold,’ she said.


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