Lisa Merriam

Crowdsourcing without a Crowd: Levia’s Failed Attempt

Levia® launched a crowdsourcing video contest in September with much fanfare only to watch the entire effort fizzle. Called “Lights, Camera, Healing,” the program asked people to create and submit original videos extolling the virtues of the “healing power of light.” The Crowdsourcing idea famously worked for Doritos® in creating memorable (and cheap!) Super Bowl ads. The “Crash the Super Bowl” video crowdsource campaign garnered Doritos® tons of press and kudos. Yet, the same idea to crowdsource video for Levia® failed miserably.

Here are the three biggest reasons why:

1) You can’t crowdsource if you don’t have a crowd.

Doritos is a mega-brand will millions and millions of passionate consumers. And Levia®? You probably never heard of it. Levia® is a device that uses light to treat psoriasis. The set of people who suffer from psoriasis and who have heard of Levia® and who have the technical know-how to produce video and who care enough to come up with winning concepts about light’s power to heal is an infinitesimally small set of people–certainly not a crowd. Crowds are a necessary prerequisite for crowdsourcing.

<h2) You won’t attract attention without adequate bait.

Doritos fan-created video contest offers a $25,000 cash prize, a trip to the Super Bowl, a private party for the winner at the Super Bowl, plus the unimaginable fame of having your work broadcast during the SuperBowl. Producing a witty 5 minute video for Levia® takes a lot of work and creativity. And the prize was only $1000 for a video almost no one would ever see. If you don’t make it worth it, no one will make an effort.

3) If you make it too much work, it won’t work.

Coming up with a great idea for a video is hard work. Writing video scripts takes tremendous talent. That is why ad agencies get paid the big bucks. Producing video has gotten a lot easier, but producing video good enough for corporate use or for broadcast requires significant technical know how and experience. How to frame shots, how to light subjects, how to get great sound, how to edit effectively, and how to encode are all pretty heavy lifting. For most people, the effort is simply too great.

Take a crowdsourcing lesson from Levia®:
1) Make sure you really have a crowd
2) Create a campaign adequate to attracting enthusiastic participation
3) Make it as easy and fun as possible.