Last year, Harley-Davidson fired its advertising agency, and began sourcing advertising ideas directly from Harley-Davidson’s fans found on internet. The technique, known as “Crowdsourcing”, is the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals (in this case, Harley marketing people and ad agency) to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open call. In other words, “crowdsourcing” is leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies, for example blogs like this one and social media like Facebook or Twitter.
Extremely popular with businesses since 2006, although controversial and opposed by some, the “crowdsourcing” technique depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to a group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.
Harley-Davidson Motor Company shifts its commitment to “crowdsourcing” into a higher gear by launching a new Facebook application that sources advertising ideas directly from Harley-Davidson brand’s millions supporters. The application called “Fan Machine” allows Harley-Davidson’s Facebook community to review an advertising brief, submit ideas and vote on ideas from other community members. After selecting and rewarding the winners, Harley-Davidson will work with existing marketing partners to bring the best creative ideas to life. Harley-Davidson has crowdsourced ideas like this for a year, but not with the massive scale of Facebook.
“It works for us because their passion for our brand is second-to-none. They’re going to light this thing up, and it will be fun to watch. Facebook also proves this passion is passing along to the next generation, where 40 percent of our fans are between the ages of 18 and 34.” Harley-Davidson’s first foray into crowdsourced marketing resulted in ‘No Cages,’ the Motor Company’s ad campaign that debuted in February.
“Getting a brand’s fans and followers involved in co-creating advertising ideas is the future of marketing,” said John Winsor, CEO of Victors & Spoils, the agency that produced ‘No Cages.’ “We’re excited to work with Harley-Davidson as our first brand partner using the Fan Machine technology, a logical choice because of our deep partnership and their passionate fans.” Any suggestion to make to Harley? Go to Harley-Davidson Facebook.
The term “crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing,” first coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”. Howe explains that because technological advances have allowed for cheap consumer electronics, the gap between professionals and amateurs has been diminished. Companies are then able to take advantage of the talent of the public.