Author: Ross Dawson Posted: January 10, 2012 915 views

[This article first appeared on the Getting Results From Crowds book website]

Harley-Davidson has been in the vanguard of using crowdsourcing to fuel its creative marketing initiatives. That initial success has fueled its appetite, with its latest initiative a Facebook app that takes idea generation to a far broader crowd.

Last year I wrote about how Harley-Davidson had launched a major advertising campaign using Victors  Spoils, an agency built on crowdsourcing principles.

Harley-Davidson was initially cautious, saying:

We’re willing to take risks but you want to mitigate those. So we ran through the [VS] process a couple times on some lower-level stuff … put a couple lower-level creative briefs in the system to see what we’d get and were so impressed with the quality of that work, the expansiveness of the ideas that we became comfortable this would be a workable model.

The result was this ad:

As described in the case study on Victors  Spoils in Chapter 22 of Getting Results From Crowds on Crowd Business Models (you can download the chapter from the free chapters page), VS uses a highly select of around 500 experienced creatives.

After the success of the campaign, late last year Harley-Davidson and VS together decided to extend the creative call, creating a ‘Fan Machine’ app on its Facebook page, as below, tapping its almost 3 million fans on Facebook.

This has lead to a far broader engagement in the idea generation process. It will be interesting to see if the quality of ideas improves from going to a broader crowd.

However it is clear that there are many benefits to allowing customers and the broader community to feel more engaged with the company and the brand, something which is an admirable match with Harley-Davidson’s history. Now they have experienced the power of the crowd, they are keen to take if further, with the Journal-Sentinel reporting:

“This is not a publicity stunt or a limited time engagement,” said Mark-Hans Richer, Harley’s chief marketing officer.

Will companies increasingly take their advertising creative direct to the crowd, or will they rely on crowd-specialist agencies? Or do you think crowdsourced creative is a fad that just a few companies will indulge in?

About the author >

Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is globally recognised as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, inspirational keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and author. He works with senior executives of leading organizations worldwide to help them seize opportunities in the hyper-connected economy. His latest book, Getting Results from Crowds, is due out November 2011. Ross is author of Implementing Enterprise 2.0, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, and the bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships. He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

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