Create transformative innovation

Empower the customer


Customer-generated campaigns embed your target audience deep within the messaging.

As social media and smart mobility become ubiquitous, brands have an opportunity to bring their customers into the heart of the creative process.

Female in supermarket

This is especially so in the Asia-Pacific region with its fast-growing and younger populations who are beginning to capture a greater share of the world’s wealth. Remarkably, success can come rapidly when brands listen closely to their clients.

So for chief marketing officers, what does success look like? Here are four campaigns that truly moved the dial by bringing customers into the heart of the story.

1) #SPCSunday

When iconic Australian food brand SPC Ardmona was threatened with closure, the company and its marketing partners immediately recognised the potential to tap into the deep well of local community sentiment and support for a company that provided 3000 local jobs.

Reinforcing customer sentiment as expressed on social media delivered a powerful outcome for SPC: 15 million Twitter impressions were generated in four days and the attendant publicity generated $5 million in earned media. By comparison, SPC only had to spend $2500 on paid media.

The real improvement, however, was in the bottom line: SPC fruit sales increased 60 per cent; the company sealed a new, five-year, $70 million deal with Australia’s largest supermarket chain; and the government chipped in with $22 million in funding to secure the company’s future.

Take away: customer-generated gems are already out there – but you have to listen to find them.

2) The People’s Car

Volkswagen took co-creation to a new level when it asked consumers to help it design a new car. And consumers loved the idea – more than 30 million people got involved. The project morphed into a 10-part online series through which an average of 1.2 million people per episode watched the car come to life. Ultimately, they saw the seven-seater multipurpose vehicle launched as a concept car at the 2013 Shanghai auto show.

The People’s Car became a top 10 trending topic on Chinese microblogging site Weibo and the company registered an increase of almost 20 per cent in intent to purchase Volkswagen vehicles. Like the #SPCSunday campaign, the impressive results saw the People’s Car campaign shortlisted for a Spikes Asia creative communications award last year.

Take away: customer-generated campaigns must be built on authenticity and deep cultural understanding.

beach view

3) Best Jobs in the World

One of the earliest local examples and still one of the most famous customer-content campaigns is the Best Jobs in the World competition run by Tourism Australia. It was designed to entice young travellers Down Under and to publicise the Working Holiday Maker program.

The six-week campaign attracted more than 600,000 applications with participants representing 196 countries. More than 46,000 video applications were also submitted, accompanied by thousands of supporting references, including those from applicants who had also managed to enlist support from world-famous celebrities.

Take away: customer-generated campaigns should be built around letting your customer tell you what’s great about your brand.

4) Malaysian Wonderland

When Samsung launched its Samsung Galaxy Note II “phablet smartphone” in Malaysia, the company and its agency, Leo Burnett, married the power of celebrity to the reach of social media. A print and online campaign drove consumers to a website where they were asked “What makes Malaysia a wonderland?”

Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, who is both internationally successful while also enjoying a huge local following, then incorporated the customer content into a new song that was used in the campaign.

“To get people truly invested, we leveraged on Yuna’s fan base, engaging them in the process of making the music video,” explained the Samsung entry to the Spikes Asia awards. “On her Facebook and Twitter accounts Yuna discussed her personal wonderlands and almost daily updates of the work-in-progress using photos, doodles and video logs – all produced on the Note II.”

The campaign generated more than 426,000 page views on the Galaxy Wonderland website, along with an estimated $1 million in earned media. More than 5000 people submitted videos, stories, doodles and photos during the month-long campaign.

Brands don't have to embrace user-generated content but you certainly can't ignore it. Here are five tips to help get you started:

  1. Like advertising, customer-generated content requires a strategy and a plan
  2. To understand what will work, listen to what your customers are already saying about you
  3. Be authentic – customer-generated content must be culturally relevant
  4. Let your customers tell you what will work
  5. Embed your target audience in your messaging

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