Crowdsourcing Platforms Build Relationships And Not Just A Fan Base, Says Arun Mehra From Talenthouse

An interview with Arun Mehra, CEO at Talenthouse, where he shares the concept of crowdsourcing, how it has shaped up in India and the road ahead

Talenthouse India

In an extensive Q&A with Arun Mehra, CEO at Talenthouse India, the pioneers in creative crowdsourcing platforms in India, we discover the rise of crowdsourcing in India, how brands have adopted the concept for its benefits, how it has shaped up the Indian business and the road ahead.

Arun Mehra, CEO Talenthouse India

1. In your opinion, what is the single factor that has popularised the term ‘crowdsourcing’? And where does India stand in terms of crowdsourcing at the present, given that the concept has been well established globally?

Popularity of Crowdsourcing: With the brand population increasing drastically, consumers are spoilt with choices and loyalty is highly on the decline. Brands are finding it extremely difficult to connect and create a separate space to reside in consumer’s minds. Crowdsourcing enables brands to involve and engage their consumers thereby staying top of mind with high recognition and recall.

When a brand crowdsources, it tells its consumers that I’m (the brand) listening to you and delighted that you are contributing to my idea. I want you to take ownership of the brand as it belongs to both of us. It also tells them that I appreciate your effort and I’m willing to gratify you for your idea.

An apt e.g. would be that of Micromax realizing that a change in the brand logo was required. Several agencies were initially approached but understanding a consumer perspective was important. Micromax partnered with Talenthouse to undertake and find out how consumers preserved the brand rather than have agencies working on their logo designs which made a large-scale consumer involvement exercise effortlessly possible.

The new Micromax logo design Crowdsourced on Talenthouse resembles a punch capturing the attitude of the youth adding to the brands esteem and presenting a unified face to their customers. Today we are proud to see Micromax’s new attitude translating in them partnering at all major events and their new communication on TVC.

International Crowdsourcing scenario: Internationally crowdsourcing, open innovation and co-creation have been around as part of marketing and innovative strategies which are only getting bigger and bigger. With brands like P&G’s Connect & Develop which over the years have claimed that more than 50 percent of product initiatives involve significant collaboration with outside innovators. Similarly Pepsi has converted people’s ideas from wishful thinking to reality through the Pepsi Refresh Project.

India opening up to crowdsourcing: In India, besides Crowdsourcing the Rupee Symbol by the Indian Government, large scale consumer involvement has not yet been undertaken. Brands have now opened up to consumer generated content on smaller scale through social media & this trend will only gain momentum in the coming years.

Latest Crowdsourcing trend in India: Today there exists Creative Crowdsourcing platforms like Talenthouse to build relationships and not just a fan base. This has led brands to reach out to consumers in innovative ways and this trend can be noticed in social media reports wherein the top brands with growing fan bases have adopted high levels of engagement with their consumers. Crowdsourcing UGCs is the latest trend for building the same. Engagement through Crowdsourcing platforms irrespective of the strength of a community seems to be an economic, viable and most sought out option among brands.

2. Having pioneered the concept of crowdsourcing in India, how easy or difficult was it to convince your first client?

Almost 80 per cent of the companies that we’ve approached have loved the Talenthouse platform. Of that, 30 per cent have adopted it and the rest have said they’ll come back when the time is right or when they have the right brief to throw open to their consumers. We don’t hard sell the platform, we hard sell the opportunity. If the opportunity exists, the client always comes back.

A crowdsourcing platform is successful when a brand comes back wanting to undertake another project. Talenthouse has tasted success with Pepsi, ZOD! BIG CBS who have worked on more than one project infact ZOD! started work with us on a Model Hunt moving to Designing the Creative Campaign and looking out for a TVC Script all 3 projects undertaken have exceeded  the clients expectations and we are shortly going to launch another Creative Invite for them soon.

3. How beneficial has crowdsourcing been to Indian brands? Do share with examples and numbers.

Brands approach Talenthouse for innovative campaigns under Design, Viral Videos & Music. Whether a celebrity or a brand the aim is to engage the creative community in area of their interest and today’s youth are more equipped with skills which can be targeted even if they don’t belong to the fraternity. Some examples are:

Airtel: Airtel launched a digital extension to their Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai campaign for Wacky Friend Type Videos which resulted in them getting a few entries. Talenthouse took on the project and delivered over 200 viral films in addition to huge engagement on social media.

Johnson & Johnson: The Creative Invite titled ‘Whacky ways to Wake up’ was a logical move, for the positioning of Clean & Clear Morning Energy Face Wash is targeted at teenage girls. Use of digital media was an important part of the marketing mix, given that teenagers are spending a significant portion of their wake up time online. To engage this TG, one need to involve them, this is where the crowdsourcing idea germinated. Talenthouse successfully generated over 9.5 lakh interactions for the campaign.

Nerolac: Decided to recreate the magic of their iconic tune ‘Jab ghar ki raunak badhani ho…’Among the 116 submissions, the winning entry received huge acclaim and was felicitated by Shahrukh Khan.

Happydent: After the success of product design with Kurkure, it gave us the confidence to provide Happydent a new artwork for its Fliptop Packs. Currently the project is in progress but we have received an overwhelming response with 360 designs which is a good number for a product design.

GOibibo: The new TVC depicts how travel agencies make fake promises to the customers with relation to the price, accomodation, travel, etc facilities and services are not en par with what was promised to them. This insight is used in an entertaining was by Goibibo by depicting travel agents as villain. The opportunity was seen to generate similar TVC’s by the audience with their own experience. We received 55 good quality videos for the brand to use on their digital channels.

Z3: Talenthouse India had partnered with Z3 (the casual readymade brand from Zodiac Clothing) to crowdsource the first look for its creative campaign titled ‘Crack the 360 for Z3’. As the advertising fraternity comprised a major chunk of the target group this was a natural crowdsourcing extension. The brand received 201 campaign idea something a regular agency would never provide and this activity generated 1881420 interactions.

4. Do you think crowdsourcing has become more powerful due to social media. How do you see the synergy between the two?

India has over 120 million people online and half of it is on Facebook, which makes India #3 in world rankings.  In every aspect, the world today cannot ignore a nation like India.

Every marketer today turns to social media for consumer involvement but ends up doing standard activities like uploading posts, tweets, etc. Marketers want to be popular for their consumer engagement initiatives that would associate its consumers with the brand. This has led them to reach out to consumers in innovative ways such as Crowdsourcing.

Through Talenthouse, brands talk to their TG in their own voice and in the process undertakes an extended Social Media Campaign influential enough for larger engagement. On Talenthouse brands have come on-board purely for engagement purposes. The process helps brand generate content for the consumers by the consumers that could be put to use on social media and various digital channels to connect with the TG a few e.g. are that of Axe – Capture the extra strong Axe effect through photographs and film. Clean & Clear – Whacky ways to wake up’, Bacardi – It started with a party videos, Pepsi Football Anthem Videos, Club Mahindra- Shoot your excuse for a vacation.

5. Representing India at the Crowdsourcing Week, what ideas will you be sharing at this global conference?

We aim to utilize the speaker position to demonstrate Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation scenario in India and how best marketers can understand India & SEA as Talenthouse has worked closely on the same. We also intend to cover the nascence of Crowdfunding in India.

Being a creative crowdsourcing leader in SEA, we would also want to talk of the role creativity and mentors play in Film & Music genres as Talenthouse has collaborated with renowned filmmakers such as Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Vipul Shah and musicians such as Shaan.

Also, staying true to the objective of providing a platform for the Creative Community, Talenthouse has taken this opportunity to make outstanding contributions along with CSW by giving one Indian an exciting opportunity.

Participants can submit an original music score keeping CSW’s global objective in mind by working on the theme ‘Global Fusion’ to capture music from around the world to create a winning score to be launched at the conference in Singapore.

6. Many creative crowdsourcing platforms have sprung in the last year. What would be the differentiating factor at Talenthouse?

A lot of crowdsourcing platforms are only focusing on product design. With Kurkure, we outsourced this year’s Diwali look & feel for packaging. Crowdsourcing can contribute in more than one ways that you can think of. We have done product design, signature tune, logo design, television script, viral videos and the first look of a creative campaign. The crowd has contributed in all these aspects. I think, the future of crowdsourcing can be predicted with big Indian brands having now realised the potential of tapping into the community resources. This will ultimately result in co-creation wherein a brand will develop products along with its consumers.

We have a first-mover advantage in India. There are no holistic models existing here that cater to the creative genres of film, music, fashion, photography and art connecting filmmakers, photographers, musicians and artists on various collaborative projects.

Besides Talenthouse functions on an Integrated Viral Engine that automatically triggers Multiplier Effect. Virality works 2 folds; one during Submissions and another during Voting. When an artist participates, he integrates his social networking contacts with Talenthouse. As he participates, all his FB contacts get intimated on the same. Statistics show 40% of a person’s contacts belong to the same profession resulting in increased participation. On closure of Submissions, every participant can propagate his creativity by way of a voting matrix. Reaching out to his Facebook contacts (average no. per person is 200) to come and ‘Vote’ for him. On voting, voters in turn activate their Facebook accounts enabling their contacts to become aware about the Creative Invite (CI). This triggers a multiplier-effect for every entry submitted causing extended audiences to get involved and generate “viral buzz” around the CI. The platform guarantees generating at least 5000 engagements with every submission. This is a proprietary tool of Talenthouse and no other platform enable this.

7. What, according to you, is the future of crowdsourcing in India?

Creative crowdsourcing is a revolutionary breakthrough the world over but is currently in its nascent stage in India. It is what e-commerce was 5 years back. Globally, companies are using crowdsourcing across industries. Even several advertising agencies have begun to embrace crowdsourcing platforms. From IT giants to start-up’s, everyone wants to use the platform. They are using it for various purposes from product development and packaging to brand communication and engagement.

Crowdsourcing is not just a buzzword. It provides a multitude of ways to gather ideas, opinions and feedback. Brands that have opened up to crowdsourcing have gained a deeper understanding of their customers wants. This enables brands to effectively communicate with its users and also allow the users to actively participate in the creativity and strategizing aspects for the brand.

We thank Arun for sharing his thoughts, and especially for sharing numbers regarding the crowdsourcing campaigns launched in partnership with Talenthouse. This is truly beneficial and with more crowdsourcing platforms in the foray, the space is getting exciting. Do share your thoughts in the comments.