The Latest and Greatest in Crowdsourcing Disasters

We’ve all seen ‘em before, but this campaign just might take the cake in “crowdsourcing disasters.” The oil giant, Shell, took to the streets recently to get everyone as “pumped” as they are about a new drilling initiative dubbed “Let’s Go! Artic.”

This is serious.

To help promote their endeavor to, and we quote, drill the “vastsnowy wastes of the North”, Shell set up a “Social Ad Gallery” fully equipped to let users create their very own ads for the campaign. At this point you can probably guess how these crowdsourced ads turned out, we will let some of the consumer creations speak for themselves:



Cue the house music. While there is negativity swirling around the web about this campaign, there’s actually a lot of lessons to be learned here.

Crowdsourcing, though a brilliant strategy behind many successful marketing campaigns, is truly the DEMOCRATIZATION of a brand. You are putting creative liberties in the power of consumers when you go this direction –so you have to clearly think through the liberties that enthusiastic or disgruntled consumers might take.

Although certainly disruptive, which oh so many marketers seek to achieve (and we specialize in), crowdsourcing is most certainly not a “one-size-fits-all” idea.

As with most tactical or strategic approaches – there isn’t a tried and true formula. What would work well for a consumer beloved brand like Toms definitely won’t work for an equally beloved (but sometimes belittled) brand like Barbie.

When considering a new approach to deliver a brand message, it’s crucial to tailor campaign initiatives to custom-suit the potential engagement of those initiatives and map out the potential lifecycle of what the campaign could (and likely will) become.

One of the best but also the most daunting things about this socialized digital landscape is how much consumer control is taken…and how quickly that control can spiral.

In some situations, you end up with a fantastic viral hit (link to a viral favorite maybe Old Spice Man with “viral hit”) and in other situations, you go viral, but not in the ways you were seeking.

No two brands are identical, and approaching marketing with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality just isn’t gonna cut it.

So step back, think twice, and don’t disrupt for the sake of disruption, make sure your programming truly ladders back to the objectives you seek to achieve.

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