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Crowdsourcing is all the rage, as brands move closer to their audiences and make use of co-creation sites to unearth winning ideas.

I thought I’d list a few of the more recent examples of crowdsourcing to highlight how brands (and other people) are embracing it.

Innocent Drinks crowdsources a TV ad and product labelling

Innocent has a strong history of engaging its customers, having previously asked them to contribute ideas to product packaging, to test new products, and most recently to suggest a caption for its product labelling

It has also invited fans / budding directors to create a new 30-second ad, which will be shown on TV. Innocent’s fans are being asked to vote for the winning ad, and the winner will be awarded £5,000 in cash.

Deutsche Boerse and NYSE crowdsource a new name

Asking their combined 6,000 employees to submit suggestions for a new brand name for the recently merged exchanges, which probably need to drop the existing geography-specific parts of their respective brand names. Given that this is a staff-only initiative we might describe it as ‘staffsourcing’.

Google crowdsources the removal of webspam

This has been a long time coming. A new Chrome browser extension allows people to remove search results from the listings. While this may be seen to be a personal thing, I’d be amazed if it didn’t have wider implications in due course, as Google makes more sense of our personal preferences and networks. It is open to abuse of course, but then again so is the rest of Google’s algorithm. 

Rolling Stones crowdsources its cover

For the first time in almost half a decade the readers of Rolling Stone will be able to choose its cover. The competition is a kind of battle of the (“undiscovered”) bands with a user voting element. It is somewhat curated, is a collaboration with Atlantic Records and AOL, and is sponsored by one of L’Oreal’s brands (I’ve perceived crowdsourcing as a way of reducing costs, but this is the first time I’ve recognised it as a monetisation strategy).

LinkedIn crowdsources the news

I have some reservations about the execution but the idea behind LinkedIn’s network-powered news aggregator is fundamentally based around personalised (and passive) crowdsourcing / curation. 

Sony crowdsources a Michael Jackson video

“You are about to become part of the most epic, international and crowdsourced Michael Jackson video of all time,” promises the Behind The Mask website, launched earlier this month to attract entries to this collaborative video production. Sony has put a lot of effort into this, and the results could be impressive if participants pay attention to the storyboard and technical instructions. 

Brisk crowdsources imagery for limited edition cans

Brisk, a US-based soft drink brand, hooked up with Instagram and invited SxSW attendees to tweet pictures using the #briskpic hashtag. Some 4,000 cans will feature 43 winning pictures. A neat implementation and a well-considered choice of partner, given the audience.

Wrangler is crowdsourcing its next pair of jeans

The Next Blue campaign aims to crowdsource the next pair of jeans that Wrangler will put into production. The winner will “win $5,000, fame and the envy of all your friends”. It’s a great idea but I’m not sure how much the firm has pushed it, as there have only been 18 entries so far, and a measly four Facebook ‘likes’.

Perhaps Wrangler should be reaching to independent designers, perhaps via a tie-in with a site like Etsy? Anyway, with six days to go there’s a strong chance of winning. Get yer rhinestones out, people. 

The US Army crowdsources a combat support vehicle design

Seriously, if you can crowdsource a military vehicle you can probably crowdsource anything.

Revolutionaries crowdsource translations

A voice message left on a Google-powered phone line was converted into a tweet, where it was picked up and translated into English by volunteers. Translations to more than 170 similar messages have been crowdsourced in the same way, helping the Libyan rebels to spread awareness of events on the ground (important, given the media blackout).

Chris Lake

Published 23 March, 2011 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (6)

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Tim Thornton

Another example showing the power of crowd sourcing in technical fields is TeamSurv (www.teamsurv.com). This project is using crowd sourced depth and GPS data from boats as a means of creating more up to date and accurate nautical charts - many areas of the seas have not been surveyed for 100 years, and it is only a couple of years ago that Captain Cook's survey data was finally replaced on charts off New Zealand.

over 5 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

And, of course, there's the 'world's first crowdsourced car' the Fiat Mio - see details at http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-08/18/fiat-mio

over 5 years ago

Adam Cranfield

Adam Cranfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Mynewsdesk

Great stuff - real variety of applications there!

I wonder whether we'll want to get a bit tighter with our definition of crowdsourcing soon? There seem to be at least 4 types:

1) A kind of voting, like the Google Chrome search example. Or the Rolling Stone example.

2) A kind of distributed collaboration, like the Libyan translation example. Or like Wikipedia. Or perhaps the Michael Jackson example.

3) A kind of social graph aggregator/filter - like LinkedIn Today. Or Facebook.

4) And then, what I tend to most associate with the term 'crowdsourcing' - a kind of competition, where the organiser chooses the best 'entry' from a large number submitted. This is the Innocent example, or the Wrangler example. The Michael Jackson example is half this and half type 2 above.

I realise this is a somewhat academic post from me, but the subject got me thinking!

Anyway, whatever the specifics, the power of a distributed community is what the internet is all about!

over 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Adam - A good breakdown of 'types'! Will think on it some more.

over 5 years ago


Jabir Salam

Not sure if Niel Robertson took that boat trip in 2011 but thought Trada finds a mention for its efforts in crowdsourcing paid search marketing expertise.

over 5 years ago



Nice overview of different crowdsourcing initiatives!

over 5 years ago

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