Power to the people

October 2, 2009
vegemite

This whole concept of crowdsourcing for the sake of idea generation and consumer engagement is nothing new. Marketers and their brands have been throwing open the doors — for better or for worse — for years.

But every once in a while, a new example comes along the puts the entire concept front and center in the discussion about what it takes to make consumer engagement work well. The story of sandwich spread Vegemite is just one of those examples.

After a competition in which consumer submitted their ideas for a new name for the Australian staple, Kraft announced the winner: iSnack 2.0. And the reaction was not good, to say the least. In fact, we quickly learned that Kraft is scrapping the whole thing, which pleased some but prompted others to accuse the company of staging little more than a publicity stunt with the atrocious name.

What’s the lesson for marketers? Well, first and foremost, don’t name anything iWhatever Number.0 unless you work for Steve Jobs. Second, be prepared. Know that this stuff can backfire. Have a plan for how you’ll handle a dismal “winner”: Will you remind consumers that you’ll exercise final say on the matter? Can you take submissions, choose your finalists, and then let consumers vote — giving them control at the beginning and the end while still protecting your brand’s dignity?

Whatever your approach, don’t be satisfied with, “Eh, let’s see what happens…” That’s myAdvice 2.0.

Photo courtesy of Noodle via Flickr