COP16: 16 Journeys from 16 Countries in 16 Weeks – Can I Count You In?

Last year, as Christmas came around, there was a powerful groundswell around climate change, culminating in the COP15 conference in Copenhagen (COP15 stands for the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). You may remember I was quite excited about “Hopenhagen” and the crowd sourced ambassador program put together by the Huffington Post. But it all felt too rushed. There was not enough time to build momentum outside the web world – we needed businesses on our side, governments to commit and we needed a grass roots, community activation plan that no one could ignore.

Despite the noise generated by Copenhagen, it was clear that the agreements not to agree, had been hammered out well beforehand. The groundswell arrived too late. It was all noise but no movement.

So I want to start early this year. COP16, to be held in Mexico in December, is the next global rallying point. But to make this successful, we need to do a lot more preparation in the lead up. And that means STARTING NOW.

What I am proposing is this …

COP16 – 16 Journeys from 16 Countries in 16 Weeks

I am looking for teams of participants in 16 countries. These teams will travel from their country of origin to Mexico, but they will do so over 16 weeks. They will travel where possible using sustainable technologies – electric or diesel cars, trains, boats, gliders – whatever comes to hand. The teams may hand off to others relay-style or stay the course from beginning to end.

Their task is not just to ARRIVE, but to EDUCATE, HARNESS and MOTIVATE people along the way. The aim is to create awareness and build a movement, town by town, truck stop by truck stop.

But this is not just about people. It’s also about business. We’ll be asking those sustainable businesses around the world how they can help. Who can provide the cars, the support, the transport, the logistics and the planning? Who can help us bridge the world’s oceans? Who can demonstrate their business innovation and global leadership by helping us achieve these aims?

And, of course, this is about stories. About the real stories of people touched already by climate change. It’s about the future stories of generations – that these teams can begin to also tell.

But this is also about YOU. These are only beginning ideas. I need you to rally around. Share your thoughts and best ideas. I need you to think about your NETWORKS – about who you know and how they can help. Share this idea – build on it – and let’s make sure that COP16 is not a cop-out.

Just don’t be silent!

What Was Your Best Post of the Year?

What was your best post of the year?In the leadup to the holiday season, we often take a moment or two to look back on the year, to take stock and to take a deep breath before turning our attention to the ever approaching future. And while I was thinking about highlighting some of the best posts that I have read this year – I thought I might ask YOU.

Tell me, what was YOUR best post of the year? I don’t mean something you read – but something that you wrote. Go on, don’t be shy. Did you write something that you loved? What was so special about it? And what did your readers think?

You can either drop me an email with a link and an explanation or include it in the comments below. I will publish a full list early in the new year.

Can Curating the Crowd Work?

george 002Having worked on two, and heading into the third Age of Conversation book (bringing together hundreds of thought leaders in a single, crowdsourced book), not to mention our recent efforts around The Perfect Gift for a Man (30 crowdsourced stories reinventing manhood), I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on crowdsourcing and its potential.

But can it work for advertising? Will it work for agencies? And, perhaps, most importantly, will it work for the communities which emerge almost spontaneously to become part of a crowdsourcing project?

Unilever are putting this to the test. Via Idea Bounty, the Peperami brand are tapping the wisdom (and creativity) of the crowd to ideate their next integrated marketing campaign. Those creating the winning idea will receive a $10,000 payment and see their concept be turned into a global campaign.

But this is not a one-off – The Guardian reports, “Unilever said it has no plans to retain a full-time ad agency for the Peperami account in future.” So clearly, we are seeing the beginning of a shift – the Brand (Peperami) are moving ideation away from the agency world and reaching out directly to their customers. In response, over 1000 submissions were received.

Amelia Torode airs her concerns around crowdsourcing advertising – and the energy with which it has been taken up – raising some interesting points in the process. For example:

  • Is the $10,000 prize a rip-off? After all Unilever is one of the world’s largest consumer companies
  • Turning ideas into something more substantial takes real skill, expertise and commitment
  • Have agencies been “over-paid, over-precious, over-protective”

The comments to the post make for great reading. The debate moves from the role of creatives and interns (and whether they are ripped off by the agency business) to the process followed by Idea Bounty.

But the question that concerns me is – “is this sustainable?” Crowdsourcing is hard work. Not all ideas have legs – or can be extended across different channels and cultures. There is a real overhead – which I presume will be taken up by Idea Bounty – and it may simply be that we shift the budget from the ideation stage to the curation of those ideas. And if that is the case, have we really achieved anything? Will the ideas be better? Will the sales increase? Will the brand be more loved by its consumers?

There are many more questions … but I will leave you with this – if your customers really do become the creator of your brand, and if they are successful, do you share the spoils of the success with your community? You see, for me, crowdsourcing is not one way – and while a one-off “prize” may satisfy at first, it could easily leave a bad taste in the mouth long after the first bite. And is ANY brand ready for the kind of backlash this could generate? Are you?