“The phenomenon of corporations creating goods, services and experiences in close cooperation with experienced and creative consumers, tapping into their intellectual capital, and in exchange giving them a direct say in (and rewarding them for) what actually gets produced, manufactured, developed, designed, serviced, or processed.”

This is the definition given to an ongoing methodology of how companies are building their brand loyalties, relationships, and ideas. In the May 2006 trend briefing from, they explored the what, the why, and the who is doing this and doing it well. This all stems back to involving your audience as in the converse shoe gallery in the past posting….nothing new, however they do acknowledge the employment factor.
What is it and what is it not? It’s NOT plain feedback without an answer, it’s not Do-It-Yourself, it’s not customization, it’s not even personalization, as all of these actions take place after companies have decided what the basics are, which products and services and experiences they’re willing to hand over to consumers.

So why are consumers interested in co-creating? Here are some reasons uncovered. #4 is the obvious for talent marketing:

1. Status: people love to be seen, love to show off their creative skills and thinking.
2. Bespoke lifestyle: something consumers have been personally involved in should guarantee goods, services and experiences that are tailored to their needs.
3. Cold hard cash: getting a well deserved reward or even a profit cut for helping a company develop The Next Big Thing is irresistible.
4. Employment: in an almost ironic twist, CUSTOMER-MADE is turning out to be a great vehicle for finding employment, as it helps companies recruit their next in-house designer, guerrilla advertising agency or brilliant strategist.
5. Fun and involvement: there’s pleasure and satisfaction to be derived from making and creating, especially if co-creating with brands one loves, likes or at least feels empathy for?

So, who’s doing what? Let’s take a peek.

DIY Advertising.
Virtually every brand these days seems to be inviting their customers to contribute to their next advertising campaign.

L’Oreal’s You Make The Commercial

FireFox’s Flicks

MasterCard’s Write a Priceless Ad

JetBlue’s Travel Stories

American Apparel ads.

Product Development
The easiest way for brands to dip their toes into CUSTOMER-MADE and tap THE GLOBAL BRAIN is to announce product or service development contests, open to consumers from around the world.

Design Lab 2005 attracted entries from 3,058 (!) design students from 88 countries around the world, the top six countries being the US, the UK, China, India, Brazil and Italy.

TV isn’t exempt, either: The L-Word Fanisode competition called for co-creating an episode of the hit television show, assembling a full script, scene by scene. The contest ran from January – March 2006, with the show’s real (paid) writers outlining a scene and giving guidance, giving fans about a week per scene to submit offerings, peruse others people’s submissions, and vote. The grand prize winner got a script-writing session with L Word creator Ilene Chaiken and USD 2,000 credit at Saks Fifth Avenue. (Source: BusinessWeek.)

Interactive audience conversations
One of my favs, the UK telecom company, Orange, set up this on-going audience conversation piece called Talking Point, that asks specific questions of people to answer in real time and see results. Basically not offering a contest, prizes and rewards, but hopping on the Cluetrain Manefesto.

With regard to talent marketing, the space is wide open. Prescreening merges with brand immersion and culture. Empowerment is embedded into the delivery of these interactive gems speaking to those in “confined” environments of employment. The “hey, why aren’t we engaging our own employees this way” factor will hit the lunch room kitchens as the viral link is distributed throughout the competition’s email.

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TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide


  1. Eric Bollman

    Intesting points Russell.It gives form to this notion of consumer or audience equity. If I could modify my messaging or modify my product experience so it’s appropriate to me… then its no longer a broad user experience it becomes my experience.

    We have birthed a whole generation of smart sophisticated consumers acclimated and accustomed to identify disingenuous messaging and content. So how do we solve for the next generation consumers? With the creation of modular content or messaging frame works that allow consumers the flexibility to create unique personalized experiences that they own.

  2. henderson

    i first herd about this is on our local news radio, i was impress. what scholars always say are true, the future is in the hands of our youth, teach them well and they will lead us to a better place. consumers are our target audience, why not get them involved.

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