Raahil Chopra
Jul 16, 2011

Live Issue: Co-creation...the future or just tokenism?

Everybody’s talking co-creation, but not everyone thinks it’s a solution. Raahil Chopra encourages an industry debate

Live Issue: Co-creation...the future or just tokenism?

Following the launches of the Fiat Mio and Lego Jewellery by Lisa Taylor, co-creation is a hot topic for marketers globally. In India, Pepsico’s campaign for Lay’s, and Nestle’s ‘Me and mera Maggi’ are two examples that tell us that co-creation is high on the agenda.

Pratik Seal, head of marketing, Micromax Mobile, is one such marketer who believes co-creation is important. He says, “Increasingly, marketers are listening to the consumer’s voice and getting them to participate in product and communication development. For some, it’s like an extended research with a bigger consumer base to dive into. But mostly it’s seen as an innovative way to engage consumers. For a technology brand, ideas mining from end-consumers benefits us and communication can be co-created along with the janta. For Micromax we created a calendar titled ‘Innovations’ for which we had ideas submitted by employees and agencies.”

Sonal Dabral, managing partner, India, and head of creative for Asia, Bates141, disagrees and suggests that there’s a long way to go before co-creation can create a major impact in India. He says, “I don’t think marketers in India have leveraged the power of co-creation. Most of the efforts in co-creation have been tokenism. Co-creation needs deeper and sustained encounters, tokenism cannot be counted as that.”

Frito Lay’s’ campaign ‘Send Us Your Dillicious Flavour’, launched in October 2009, is another example of co-creation in India. Elaborating on the reasons why Lay’s went down the co-creation route, Ruchira Jaitly, vice president, marketing, PepsiCo India (Frito Lay India Division) says, “Co-creation leads to co-ownership of the brand by the company and the consumers. Our co-creation campaign led to consumers feeling a heightened sense of belonging with the brand. It is this shift, coupled with the diversity in India, that will encourage marketers to take to co-creation.”
Vedant Varma, creative head, digital communication, Draftfcb + Ulka, thinks, “It’s unfortunate that through co-creation the final product cannot be something major. Considering the opportunities that brands have, thanks to the social web, brands can now scale up ideas and mobilise audiences far easily.”

Juju Basu, executive creative director, Contract Advertising, “Indian brands are aware of the virtues of consumer participation in their campaigns and product development isn’t very far behind. With the rich digital tools we have today, it’s a lot easier. ”

Suvodeep Das, marketing head, Kaya Skin Clinic, suggests that co-creation is not big enough in India to lead to a major product, perhaps as big as a car. He says, “Co-creation is far easier to do for services compared to products. Dermatology is an under penetrated eight year-old category in India. So, at Kaya we need to educate about people about what we do as well as ask them what do they want for a new category. We did that and took it one step further by taking their advice for a new product and then asking them for ways of packaging it too.” Das also added that he would be open to ideas suggested by their new creative agency Salt Brand Solutions.


Ruchira Jaitly


Ruchira Jaitly, vice president, marketing, PepsiCo India (Frito Lay India Division)

“Considering the diversity of tastes and preferences of consumers in India today, co-creation is a meaningful and effective way to engage millions of consumers, giving them a platform to express their individuality, tastes and choices and building a far more democratic relationship with the brand. The young Indian consumer loves to experiment, and is looking for an enjoyable platform to put across their point of view.”


Sonal Dabral


Sonal Dabral, managing partner, India, head of creative for Asia Bates141

“ I think we are still at an experimentation stage, where most of the brands are trying to create engagement and excitement; marketers should take a hard look at co-creation as a long term process. Considering we are living in changing times where social involvement can create credibility for brands, potential of social media will be crucial in harnessing co-creation.”


Pratik Seal


Pratik Seal, head of marketing, Micromax Mobile

“ If the volumes justify it, then the co-creation turns into a great long-term strategy. If not, it will merely be a marketing gimmick. Therefore, the brand must work out a proper business case for long term viability for a major co-creation project. It is likely that we will see some major co-creations in the coming months even in the tech space.”


Juju Basu


Juju Basu, executive creative director, Contract Advertising

“ Fiat Mio is a good comparison because Brazil and India are at opposite ends of the online sharing spectrum. We’re a reserved race. We’re more watchers, less uploaders. So contributing to the brand and its development taking longer is not surprising. But then again with the speed at which we’re changing and embracing participation, it’s only a matter of time.”


Suvodeep Das


Suvodeep Das, marketing head, Kaya Skin Clinic

“ Brands have always been open to co-creation with agencies. Right from insights to communication, marketers always developed it together with agencies. But with the advent of social media it’s becoming easier for marketers to co-create with consumers as well. If the suggestion is on the basis of a consumer insight or knowledge, marketers would be more than willing to add the feature.”

Campaign India