Early Examples of Creative Crowdsourcing: Pepsi and Google


We’ve recently announced the launch of the world’s first timeline of crowdsourcing by brands. It is being constantly updated with past and present cases, and we’re happy to see that more than 200 crowdsourcing initiatives are featured on the timeline, showing that brands are co-creating! In this post, we present two of the first crowdsourcing examples that have been of strategic importance for brands in local markets: Pepsi’s Creative Challenges in China and Google’s local Google 4 Doodle contests. These series of crowdsourcing initiatives have allowed these brands to deepen their engagement with consumers in these countries. Here’s how.

  • Pepsi Creative Challenges

The contests Pepsi initiated in China were called the « Creative Challenges » and were designed to engage the Chinese audience around the Pepsi brand. From 2006 to 2009, a series of four annual contests were launched, prompting Chinese consumers to get creative and to co-create with the brand in a variety of ways.


Click on the image for more details about this challenge

  • Co-creating a TV-commercial: In its first creative challenge, Pepsi invited consumers to co-create its next TV commercial. Consumers were invited to help develop the company’s next TV spot, starring Asian superstar Jay Chou, by submitting scripts of up to 200 words. Li Ming, a high-school teacher in the province of Zhejiang on China’s southeast coast, won the competition, taking home the $12,500 grand prize (more than a teacher in China earns in a year) and participated in production meetings for the casting the spot and select props and shooting locations. Check out the final, co-created spot:

  • Becoming the face of Pepsi: The second edition of Pepsi’s Creative Challenge, in 2007, was again leveraging the growing power of social media in China, with Pepsi launching a casting in order to put the faces of the winners on its cans. Pepsi’s « I Want To Go On A Can » campaign generated up to 2.5 million submissions – in six weeks! « These numbers are only the tip of an iceberg, because the most exciting stories are the community that we are reaching and also the profile of the candidates, » Leo Tsoi, marketing director for Pepsi’s beverage business unity in China, said. « The participants are really from all walks of life including celebrities, a two-time ‘World of Warcraft’ game champion, babies and net stars.« 
  • Embodying the Olympic spirit: The year of the Olympics in Beijing, Pepsi tasked consumers to use their mobile phones to send in slogans and pictures of themselves expressing their patriotic spirit. Targeting young consumers, Pepsi asked people to upload photos along with basic information, such as birth date, mobile number and nickname, and even to cast their votes via mobile, which was very innovative in 2008. Pepsi got 28 million submissions and more than 122 million votes to decide the winners, whose photos and slogans were printed on Pepsi soda cans.

Click on the image for more details about this challenge

Another interesting example of creative consumer engagement was (is) Google’s Google 4 Doodle initiative, that is launched on an annual basis since 2008.

  • Doodle 4 Google contests

The "Doodle 4 Google" contests started in 2008, 2012 is the fifth year of the initiative

In 2008, Google launched « Doodle 4 Google » a competition that invites school children to redesign the Google logo around specific themes. The first edition’s theme was « What If…? » and it was open to K-12 students in the U.S., which includes kids from Kindergarden through 12th Grade, so under 18 years of age.

The winner of the 2008 edition was Grace Suryung Moon, a 6th grader from Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley, California. Her creation, « Up in the Clouds » was selected for its artistry and creativity as well as for its interpretation of the »What If…? » theme. Grace’s doodle replaced Google’s regular logo on its homepage the day after, May 22nd, and she was awarded a $10,000 college scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for her school in recognition of this achievement.

Since then, Doodle 4 Google contests have been held on an annual basis, expanding beyond the United States, going global. In 2009, for example, Doodle 4 Google was launched in India around the theme « My India. » The winner was Puru Pratap Singh, a 4th standard student from Gurgaon, who got to see his Doodle on the Google India homepage on November 14.


Click on the image for more details about this challenge

The latest Doodle 4 Google contest in the U.S. asked children to draw around the theme “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” After 114,000 submissions and millions of votes, second grader Dylan Hoffman of Caledonia, Wisconsin was chosen as the 2012 U.S. Doodle 4 Google National Winner. Hoffman, whose doodle was called “Pirate Times” submitted a colorful depiction of his dream visit to an era filled with swashbucklers. There, he’d “sail a pirate ship looking for treasure, have a colorful pet parrot and enjoy beautiful sunsets from deserted islands.

As in previous years, Google 4 Doodle was also organized in other countries. The Google 4 Doodle FAQ section says « we’ve hosted the competition around the world in over 17 countries/regions. We’ve been amazed and inspired by the doodle submissions in every competition, and are very excited to host Doodle 4 Google in the U.S. again this year« … so it’s definitely a worldwide competition, looking to engage local audiences around the Google brand.

  • Conclusion

Creative crowdsourcing has been used by brands as early as 2006, as our timeline shows. These two early examples have not been described very often, and we think they are worthwhile being highlighted as successful crowdsourcing initiatives. By engaging young audiences, and even giving them full creative ownership over the brand, Pepsi’s Creative Challenges and Google 4 Doodle show that creative contests are an effective way to engage consumers in local markets.

Do you want to have more examples of how creative crowdsourcing is used by the world’s biggest brands? Use our interactive crowdsourcing timeline, you’ll be surprised by the variety of its applications! And if you want to suggest initiatives, just send an email to brandcrowdsourcingtimeline@gmail.com. You’ll be listed as a contributing expert!

About Yannig

Yannig was Marketing Manager at eYeka, responsible for PR, communication and research. Interested in marketing, innovation and design-related topics, he also loves to free his head by cycling, running, reading or drawing. Yannig, who holds an MSc from ESSCA School of Management and a PhD from University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, tweets under @YannigRoth and blogs at www.yannigroth.com
This entry was posted in Case Study, Co-creating companies, What a participative world and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Early Examples of Creative Crowdsourcing: Pepsi and Google

  1. Pingback: Women in Adria - Informing, inspiring and connecting business women,

  2. GTA V Free says:

    Very good blog post. I definitely appreciate this site.
    Continue the good work!

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse de messagerie ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *