Four Marketing Issues to Address with Creative Crowdsourcing

Creative crowdsourcing for marketing and innovation Creative crowdsourcing is being used by an increasing number of companies today. Except Apple (correct me if I’m wrong), all the top brands tap into the crowd to source creative ideas. Leveraging its experience of organizing and managing more than 400 creative contests, the Paris-based company eYeka has generated a simple framework about the value of creative crowdsourcing for brands. Four marketing-related business issues can be addressed: new product development, brand positioning, packaging design and generation of new creative concepts. Some examples are provided in this post.

  • new product development, brand positioning, packaging design, creative conceptsNEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

In this type of projects, you’re asking the crowd to imagine something very hands-on and concrete : a new product or service. There is often a precise frame of reference like a type of product, a brand or even both. Companies use this type of creative crowdsourcing when they are short of ideas and they want consumer-rooted, creative input from the crowd. Here’s an example of such a challenge:

invent a healthy tasty fun snack for kids

An innovation-related challenge: Inventing a healthy snack for children (source:

The example provided above is taken from eYeka, as you can see with the creative brief and the detailed analysis. But there are other examples out there: In October 2010, the French telecommunication provider SFR asked the crowd to come up with ideas to reinvent the learning experience for kids. Around 100 concepts were imagined and the key insight was that the learning experience has to be empowering. Concepts like an augmented reality device (iLoop), an interactive playing mat (Magic Mat) or phone charms that glow when children make mistakes while texting (Hümpo) are only a few examples that emerged from this crowdsourcing contest. Déborah Beddok, who was Innovation Manager at SFR at the time, describes the prohject as a success:

“[The crowd was] able to find ideas legitimate to our brand as well as ideas that we would have had difficulties imagining. This was reassuring and stimulating at the same time”


Another frequent way of using creative crowdsourcing is to gather fresh, consumer-rooted ideas to (re)position a brand. Why use crowdsourcing for such a strategic endeavor? Because the value of crowdsourcing does not only lie in the innovativeness of individual ideas, but also in the authenticity of peoples’ contributions. One example of such a project is a contest launched for Reebok in order to find legitimate ideas to extend its product range. The brief asked “Beyond sports shoes & clothes, what else could Reebok offer to women?“and over 700 entries provided useful insights to envision future Reebok offerings. The below example is another typical contest about brand positioning:

creative brief page

The crowd also provided valuable insights to position Mini Oreo cookies

Another example is provided by Kraft, which launched a creative contest for its Mini Oreo brand on eYeka. Again, the objective was to find creative and consumer-rooted ideas to position the brand. After three weeks, more than 500 entries were received on the platform, providing Kraft with valuable insights to position the brand on the market. In the feedback given to the crowd, Mini Oreo’s marketing team underlines this:

“You gave us a lot of insights in terms of how to position our Mini-Oreo cookie”


A third way to use creative crowdsourcing is to provide inspiration for package and/or label design. In an increasingly competitive and uncertain environment, marketers are looking for ways to bring the right ideas to market as fast as possible. Sourcing ideas in the crowd can reduce time-to-market significantly by providing lots of ideas in a matter of weekd. Brands use this input as creative inspiration coming directly from the market.


A design contest provided a major French FMCG giant with design inspiration for the redesign of its water bottle

The example on the left shows screenshots from an interview about such a crowdsourcing project (in French). A bottled water brand was looking for inspiration to redesign its bottle, and a creative contest provided global and fast creative input ; the winning designs came from Russia, India and the Philippines.

A similar project took place on a crowdsourcing platform called MyPitch, where Antonio Banderas Fragrances was looking for an “attractive and eye-catching design” for the product’s promotional packs. The winners were a graphic designer from London and Poland, who respectively won 2 000€ and 1 000€ for their designs.


Last but not least: creative crowdsourcing is used by brands to find new and engaging communication messages to promote their products. The observation is that marketers are often dealing with multiple issues and managing different brands. To be able to market them correctly, crowdsourcing can be very helpful by providing creative and relevant ideas. Here, the value of the crowd lies in its diversity and its ability to generate original communication ideas. The following illustration shows examples of creative briefs for such projects:


Examples of creative briefs to find creative communication concepts

It is important to underline that the crowd’s output is not used to replace traditionnal agency work, it is meant to serve as inspiration for them. Brands are looking for inspiration from creative individuals who create as consumers, not as professionals. Having consumer-rooted creative ideas is reassuring for brands as it reduces the risk of miscommunication.

A similar project aimed to find such communication ideas was recently held on Zooppa, another creative crowdsourcing platform which specializes on video and design competitions. The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) was looking looking to refresh the got milk? campaign to defend and encourage milk consumption at breakfast. The organization received almost 200 videos, allowing the organization to refresh its communication strategy around the benefits of milk consumption at breakfast.


This blog post presented four ways creative crowdsourcing can help marketers achieve their goals. Of course,it can be used in many other ways, including for the creation of user-generated advertising. But the real originality of these four directions is that creative crowdsourcing is increasingly being used as a strategic tool to be faster and more relevant for consumers. In the future, the major challenge will be to make crowdsourcing easy and seamless for brands, so that solliciting creative input from the crowd becomes effortless.

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Yannig RothYannig Roth graduated in marketing and is currently Research Fellow at eYeka and PhD student at University Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris (France). His main research interests are creative crowdsourcing and community co-creation. Yannig regularly blogs at

This entry was posted in Case Study, Competitions, Consumer Innovation, Creativity, Innovation, Open Innovation, Product Innovation, marketing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Four Marketing Issues to Address with Creative Crowdsourcing

  1. Seth W says:

    I just wanted to mention, really quickly, that Apple absolutely leverages crowdsourcing for new creative ideas. This manifests in the App Store and iTunes. The app store allows any developer to create apps, host them in the store, and collect profit without going through the formal process of being hired by Apple. Ditto for iTunes; artists can upload their music independently to be displayed and sold in the iTunes store.

    In this way, Apple crowdsources a great deal of their creative outputs. And while they may not be as overt about crowdsourcing their product designs, you can bet they incorporate heavy market research into every iteration.

  2. Pingback: Articles of Interest 6/29/2012 « National Creativity Network

  3. AdminAK says:

    for an opinionated directory of all creative crowdsourcing companies, including eYeka, check out

  4. iain maclean says:

    The biggest issue to address with crowd sourcing is that it is morally reprehensible. Creatives should be paid for the work they do. Clients should have the guts and integrity to treat creative people with respect, not like a line-up of cheap whores. Well done Apple.

    • Yannig says:

      @Seth – Absolutely, Apple does leverage the power of the crowd in a way, and this makes them very efficient and relevant. However, I wouldn’t term their approach as “crowdsourcing” as crowdsourcing happens when a company initiates an open call for contribution on a precise topic via the internet. Apple offers a platform to which people can contribute, but they’re not leveraging the crowd to source ideas for internal R&D, marketing or communication. Am I wrong?

      @Ian – You are right by saying that creatives should be paid for the work they do, like in any other industry. But don’t you agree that competitions, including profesional competitions, have been around for decades already? Probably it’s most evident in architecture, where competitions and call-for-submissions are the norm. Besides, experience tells me that the creatives who participate in creative contests like the ones above do it mostly to (1) work on concrete and real-world issues (2) improve themselves creatively (3)work on something different than their day job and (4) win money if possible. There are VERY FEW people who do it only for the money (even though offering incentives is a no-brainer).

  5. Pingback: How the World’s Best Brands Use Crowdsourcing (Interactive Timeline) | eYeka Co-creation Blog

  6. Pingback: Using Semiotics in Crowdsourced Ideation – Guest Post from @Semiotico (Chris Arning) | eYeka's Thought Leadership Blog

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