He’s at it again, talking to anyone that will listen to his pearls of wisdom. After talking to the HBR last week, this week Brian Millar, Sense Worldwide’s Strategic Director was interviewed by Sankar at YouNomy about co-creation. Brian’s not one for pussyfooting around a subject, “Co-creation is here to stay. Most of your customers now have the tools to communicate with each other and co-operate in remixing their own versions of your products. You can either embrace that and use it as a powerful tool to drive transformation in your industry, or you can wait for it to crush you. Your choice.”
I’ve been thinking about James Murdoch’s rant at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit last week. He said piracy was no different from “going into a store and stealing a handbag”. Well, yes James if you can make an exact digital copy of that handbag for no cost. Anyway, that’s not my point. What I found interesting was the comment from Maurice Levy, chief executive of French advertising group Publicis, who posited, “My grandchild doesn’t believe he’s stealing”. That’s the interesting issue.
Why don’t younger generations think it’s stealing? This question is the nub of the problem. I have an analogy that I like to use to explain why this is. We can think of consumers as being brought up like bad children and the the corporation’s are the bad parents who have brought up their consumer kids with bad habits.
Cast you mind back to the eighties. Back then Sony was just a consumer electronics company, no Sony Music, no Sony Pictures. They just made great Walkmans and… brilliant ghetto blasters with Tape-to-tape recording decks. You could walk into WHSmiths, pick an album from the Top 20 shelf, and low and behold on the shelf right next to the Top 20 were the blank tapes. Everyone knew it was wrong but did it anyway, because it was made very acceptable. Firstly by consumer electronics companies and secondly by the retailers. Classic bad parenting skills, no consistency.
Is it any wonder that consumers have developed these attitudes? Given advances in technology that can knock any business model for six the only way for businesses to survive is to engage with audiences and stop dictating to them. This connection is key to survival. To push the analogy a bit further, I’d suggest you could liken today’s consumers to teenagers. They’ve grown up a bit, have a certain amount of self awareness and will rebel if they feel they’re being talked down to. And just like teenagers, consumers do want to talk and aren’t always belligerent. You just have to talk to them in the right way.
Photo courtesy of James Curtis from Flickr
I’ve been a fan of the Peter Day Global Business podcasts for a few years now. I like them because everytime I listen to them they seem to bring to life an idea or thought that’s been running around my head with real examples.
I listened to one this morning on the way to work that I thought I’d share. It’s about the WD40 brand and what made it so successful. What was particularly interesting and relevant to this blog was how Gary Ridge, the upbeat Australian CEO talked about a passion for putting the user at the centre of the brand. In effect a co-creation process.
“Brands shouldn’t be bolt on attributes, like that. Brands should be virtues accruing to products and services over long experience of them by customers and consumers.
“Real brands have lives of their own, and flourish because of it, not because somebody is spending millions face lifting them. The best brands are an implicit part of the experience of product, and are probably inseparable from it.
So the question for businesses to ask is not ‘How to we build a brand’ but how do we make things that people really want to buy and value and pay more for? How do we make our products real experiences for our users, so the brand and the things are intertwined?”
Have a look at the original BBC page here.
Interesting webcast/tweet streams yesterday from the IAB Engage digital conference which Charlie Leadbeater kicked off, claiming the world we’re moving into is one where everyone can contribute and in which “you are what you share.”
Ironically Stephen Fry wrapped the day up saying that “the worst of the internet is that which is found below the blog: the comments. 90% of people who choose to comment are simply unbearable.” Fry calling these commentators “the cancer of dislike, that is a side of the internet that is deeply worrying.”
He told the audience that he can read a thousand positive tweets quite happily, but that just one will make him cry and put him off his stride for a few days, given his much publicised mood swings. He likened criticism to the way drop of urine can make a pint glass of water undrinkable.
This fear/avoidance of criticism would probably be behind his comment that he hadn’t “read a newspaper in 12 years, I hate them it’s like looking at used lavatory paper”. Given that half the ‘Save the Observer’ Facebook group were probably hanging on his every word yesterday it’s probably a good thing that the Guardian Media Group announced its survival plan the day before and before the ‘we don’t like newspapers’ group kicks off.
How bland would the world and/or the web be if it was all positive, not critical and by definition never constructive, creative or collaborative and where would it take us? One outcome is the world described in the novel Blind Faith – 1984 2.0 which I keep referring back to as our brave new world unfolds.
Stephen Fry certainly got it his way though – I don’t think I saw one critical #IABUK tweet on his contribution to the debate, sorry lecture, yesterday – the on and off line audience were clearly pretty star struck.
Guinness is about to launch its new marketing campaign, heralding the change of strap line from ‘Good things come to those who wait’ to ‘Bring it to life’ with an epic advert involving the land, sea and sky being manually altered by an army of bristley chined men in order to ‘bring it to life’ (no women – maybe they were back at home dealing with the domestic ramifications of a dramatic change in the landscape and climate such as your garden suddenly disappearing down the big chasm in the earth that’s just been created?).
It is without a doubt an amazing piece of visual art – involving locations from around the world, three months of preparation, and army assistance. Its aim was, Paul Cornell, marketing manager for Guinness describes, “to create a truly amazing campaign which will graphically illustrate the life, energy and passion of the brand.” But is it necessary, and is it an appropriate use of spondoodles worth of money (FYI: spondoodles is a technical term reserved for the high-end of the ad industry where traditional concepts of value=worth=money break down due to the massive gravitational pull of cash-cow brands, a bit like like how the laws of physics breakdown inside a black hole).
I’m not being completely naive and misguided here – those spoondoodles did pay for the time of hundreds of creatives, crew and extras which in turn put food in the mouths of their family (which least we forget is the reason why we’re all here) and has brought the brand to people’s attention. I’m writing about it now so the latter is self-evident whatever your opinion of the ad.
However, couldn’t they have spent that money on something that offered a bigger benefit to consumers than 1min 30 secs worth of ‘oooh’ before they go back to the Champions League and shouting at Rafael Benitez as if they know more about coaching a team than him? Something that involved consumers a bit more and created more value in their lives? Then not only would everybody get paid (including that slice of spondoodles that ensures creatives like us have innocent smoothies to put in the mouths of our immaculately dressed precocious children) but we’d have created something that was useful AND made sure consumers were thinking about and buying more of Guinness than previously!
And I’m sorry but a Google Earth app doesn’t cut it.
Interesting post – Trusted Agents – from Roland Harwood at NESTA Connect on how open innovation and corporate (i.e. large scale) co-creation requires a different type of agency to act as intermediary between big organisations, expert networks and creative consumers.
One of the key points of difference is the business model, moving from a “traditional, single client fee for service” model to one in which they have a “stake in the opportunities they generate or in co-developing them with others” – i.e. more of a % or royalty model. As Roland says “As we move to a more fluid and distributed model of business, innovative organisations need to give as much as receive for the networked business models to thrive. And so I below the need for genuine honest brokers will be become more important. And they will live or die by their reputations – simple as that.”
Like Roland we’ve know this for years. Sense’s experience with co-creation and innovation means we’ve identified that it is the most appropriate model for engaging with intermediaries such as ourselves who are the facilitators and intermediaries of change, even if we aren’t always able to do so due to the nature of our client relationships. We’d be very interested to hear from people using these collaborative business models and understanding more about how they operate, especially if they’ve been able to make the jump from traditional to open within a single client relationship. There’s probably a lot we can learn from each other.
(P.S. we’re working with Roland at NESTA on the Collaboration Knowledge Partner Program described by Raj below)
The exciting news this week at Sense Worldwide is that we’ve launched a new initiative to spread the spirit of co-creation in conjunction with The Discovery Channel and NESTA – the UK’s innovation body. The Collaborative Knowledge Partner Platform (CKPP) is our response to the widely-held belief that collaboration and innovation will be key drivers for coming out of the recession on top. The new knowledge platform will spread co-creation by offering businesses the opportunity to access and contribute to the findings of a groundbreaking piece of research on 25 to 39-year-old European men and then work together to innovate based on the findings.
While many businesses are looking to innovate internally, they’re not yet collaborating with each other to do so. The CKPP takes collaborative-creation one step further by creating a forum for non-competitive companies to work together. By sharing knowledge on our insight-socialising web 2.0 platform and then building on that shared knowledge in co-creation workshops, Knowledge Partners will have the opportunity to develop joint initiatives and collaborative product ideas. This is not just consumers and crisps but a new level altogether.
The pilot of the CKPP is backed by NESTA and we’re currently on the lookout for partners to get involved free of charge.
Sound like this might be something for you? Find out more about the Collaborative Knowledge Partner Platform.
Here’s a great post on a Francis Gouillart’s blog, in fact we liked his blog so much we put it on our blogroll. I particularly like excuse number two. ‘2. We’re in a boring industry. We ain’t exactly Nike or Apple, you see.’
It’s with the seeminly ‘boring’ companies that the interesting ideas lay as the potential in these organisations hasn’t been unexplored or thought about.
It appears co-creation just keeps getting hotter as our whitepaper The Spirit of Co-creation has been gathering momentum apace this week with requests for the document coming in left and right. It’s great to see that word’s spreading, most recently in Contagious last night. If you’ve not heard of Contagious do click through and have a look at the site – it’s a fantastic magazine dedicated to covering the cutting edge of marketing, design and technology. Read the opening of my article below or click through to see the full article:
Co-creation – the word of the hour in the business world. We’re all familiar with it and many have strong opinions on the subject as well as at least a few stories both good and bad. If forced to define co-creation you might say that it is to the practice of looking outside an organisation to collaboratively create ideas, products and services with clued-in consumers, creative individuals or people with particularly relevant skills.
But what does that really mean for us? Well it basically means acknowledging the great ideas outside of your walls and finding a way to harness those ideas for business benefit. Those of us who advocate co-creation argue that this sort of practice is key to moving forward and innovating in today’s competitive marketplace.
Continue reading on the Contagious site.
We’re all spending a lot of time talking about businesses and how they can employ co-creation to innovate in new and exciting ways. It’s certainly important to discuss this topic from the business side of things, but what about the outsiders these companies recruit to co-create with? What’s their experience of the process and how do they benefit?
We do a lot of co-creation work at Sense Worldwide with clued-in consumers, articulate creatives and generally cool, interesting people. We’re very lucky in that we’ve put in the time to build up a network of 1800 people who are particularly suited to co-creative working practices so we can draw on them for all sorts of projects. We keep them engaged through a range of community building initiatives like art fairs, monthly film nights and a variety of other events; we also incentivise them for every project they do with us.
Before I worked at Sense I was one of these people and I worked with Sense as a collaborator on a number of co-creation projects. I found that I’d leave the sessions excited and fired up about all of the incredible ideas that had been produced. The sessions for me were an opportunity to use my brain in ways I didn’t get to use it in my day job – an open forum in which the seed of an idea could be put forward and then collectively developed into something much bigger and better than anything I could have come up with on my own. I felt part of something bigger and more important than myself and that was really satisfying – I suppose in a sort of ego-boosting way. The thought that my ideas might be important to a huge global company was thrilling. In short, I loved it and felt the benefits were massive.
I’d love to hear how others feel about being co-creation collaborators as I’m not sure I’m a representative sample!