Emily Tan
Aug 12, 2014

How crowdsourcing platform Eyeka became part of Unilever’s creative process

After 15 years, even an award-winning idea such as ‘Dirt is Good’ for Unilever’s laundry detergent brands, Omo and Breeze, may need a refresher.

How crowdsourcing platform Eyeka became part of Unilever’s creative process

So the FMCG giant decided to try crowdsourcing inspiration from the freelance advertising and design community, Eyeka. “We faced a challenge to keep the idea fresh and we saw an opportunity to come up with a new expression and angle after a meeting with Eyeka,” said Unilever’s global vice-president of spreads, Kaarthik Subramani.

When Unilever first started working with Eyeka in August 2012, Subramani was director of its laundry brands for Southeast Asia and Australia.

At the time, Unilever was introducing Breeze to the Philippines but was facing some resistance to its ‘Dirt is Good’ tagline. “Mothers there just didn’t want to hear that, so the brief was to show moms that dirt is good, without making them feel guilty for having kept their kids clean all this while,” explained Francois Pétavy, CEO of Eyeka in an earlier interview.

With a top prize of €6,000 ($8,023) the brief drew 67 submissions, several were full-fledged videos. “It was extremely rich material and really sparked a lot of inspiration with the team,” said Subramni.

The top three ideas were posted to Breeze’s Facebook page and used as a tool to further engage audiences who could vote on their favourite. Eventually, first prize was won by part-time animator and full-time dancer and choreographer, Florian Genal who submitted this idea:

Which eventually inspired a spot for Unilever’s Breeze Active Bleach in the Philippines (below). The line the mother shouts to encourage her son to get his brand new shoes dirty and enjoy the game is “Binyagan na yan”, which translates to ‘baptise the shoes’.

“It really was a breath of fresh air for us,” said Subramani of the experience. But, and this he is very clear about, a platform like Eyeka will never be a replacement for the ad agencies Unilever works with. “It’s a great tool for exploration work, particularly when you’re looking for engaging digital content, which demands a high volume of great content at a low cost. It gains us access to a great creative group with fresh ideas unrestrained by the brand team. But they will never replace our agencies.”

Digital content, which is where Eyeka first started, is still about 50 per cent of its business, said Pétavy. But the company has evolved to not only provide the platform but to also analyse submissions and feed the insights back to the brand’s strategic planners. “We noticed that while we’d get around 50 submissions, they would all have similar ways of speaking about the brand, which could be grouped into about five or six themes. Not only are the brands getting ideas, we realised, this was also a way for brands to understand how people view them.”

In its work with brands, Eyeka can sometimes be working with agencies and sometimes competing against them. In either case, said Pétavy, while the platform forces agencies to raise the bar it is unlikely to replace them, “I don’t believe in consumers doing TV ads. Unless you’re very lucky, an agency will still produce better work. But when it comes to getting ideas, good ideas can come from everywhere and once you know what you stand for, collaboration can build better brands with better ideas.”

In June, Eyeka and Unilever inked a co-creation partnership deal for Asia-Pacific, Middle-East, Russia and South Africa and the two companies have collaborated on work for brands such as Clear, Close Up, Comfort, Cornetto, Lifebuoy, Lipton and Lux. This month, Rexona is running a contest on Eyeka asking the community to submit entertaining videos that show underdogs succeeding.

“Crowdsourcing as a subject is getting a lot of traction, Eyeka is just one player,” said Subramani. “We recently had an event in London where global marketers were invited to interact with crowdsourcing companies. Agencies should regard this as an opportunity as I would highly recommend brands go through the process with an agency.”

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