Using Crowdsourcing to Drive Business: 3 Case Studies

Case Study

Crowdsourcing taps into our innate need to feel included, to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. Businesses use crowdsourcing initiatives to activate their most ardent supporters and turn them into passionate advocates who feel deeply invested in the brand they’ve had a hand in shaping. A cost-effective tool for brand innovation and business expansion, crowdsourcing has virtually limitless potential.

These three case studies illustrate how brands are using crowdsourcing to drive business in the real world.

Case Study 1: Coke “Open Happiness”


Many organizations have discovered effective ways to connect with consumers through digital media. Coke faced the unenviable challenge of promoting its products in a market that is increasingly valuing healthier drinks. Coke’s “Open Happiness” campaign represents a novel and deceptively simple approach to accomplishing this objective.


Coca-Cola connected with their audience by (1) appealing to consumers’ hearts through the inspirational Tippy Tap video and story and (2) finding personal commonalities and celebrating individuals by putting popular given names on its bottles and cans. Their solution was to focus not on the health benefits or drawbacks of their product but instead to promote the brand as feel good, long-lived, and positive.

In 2013, Coca-Cola based its marketing campaigns on the tagline, “Open Happiness,” an expansive phrase with room to incorporate multiple initiatives. Instead of focusing on a specific campaign, Coca-Cola used this tagline to engage its customers. The company launched three interactive campaigns in an attempt to increase the size of its market and global presence over the next ten years: “The Coke Zero Dance,” “The Share a Coke,” and “The Super Bowl Polar Bears.” The first two in particular demonstrate the effective use of crowdsourcing to generate buzz and connect with consumers.

The Coke Zero Dance

When strategizing how to grow its brand presence, Coca-Cola decided to create a new dance for the Coke Zero line. The company developed a crowdsourcing campaign and invited the public to share their new dances on social media. Coca-Cola ended up selecting the story of a young man who used his frustration with his parents to create his own dance move, the Toe Tappy. The Toe Tappy dance became a hit with fans on social media, garnering over 5 million views on YouTube.

Share a Coke

In Australia, market research revealed that, in a one-month sample period, fully 50% of Australian teens and young adults had never tasted a Coke. In an effort to connect with the company’s target audience, Coca-Cola researched the most popular 150 given names in Australia and started putting these names on Coca-Cola products. Having their names printed on bottles of Coke generated buzz on social media, which the brand leveraged, inviting the entire country to share a Coke. The company even rolled out mobile Kiosks where people could have their names printed on a Coke can.

The results of the campaign were impressive. In just three months, Coca-Cola garnered over 12 million earned media impressions, sales volume increased by 4%, and 5% more Australians were drinking Coke nationwide. Coca-Cola had figured out how to use crowdsourcing to create an entirely new customer experience with its product.


These different campaigns were created to reflect Coke’s brand essence – “Open Happiness” – a touchstone for all brand messaging and product promotion. To grow its global presence, Coca-Cola incorporated crowdsourcing into its marketing strategy. Coca-Cola is one of the most popular global brands with millions of customers worldwide; but it’s not about the size of the audience, it’s about having the right audience. By investing in market research to better understand its customers, Coca-Cola was able to reach out to and activate its audience through various crowdsourcing initiatives to create real impact.


  • How did crowdsourcing affect the customer experience with the Coke brand?
  • Why did such a simple action as putting a name on a Coke bottle/can have such an impact?

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Case Study 2: Domino’s Pizza


In 2009, two Domino’s Pizza employees posted a YouTube video of themselves doing inappropriate and unhealthy things to a pizza. The video garnered over a million hits at lightning-speed; it looked like it would destroy Domino’s business. Instead, Domino’s took the setback as opportunity to resurrect its brand image by eliciting feedback from its customer base to improve Domino’s product offerings. Aside from saving the brand, Domino’s actions provide a case study of a well-run digital marketing campaign.


Domino’s had a fivefold strategy to deal with the PR crisis: 1) respond quickly and decisively 2) come clean and start building new relationships with its customer base (3) listen to customer feedback to improve its product offerings (4) improve the customer experience (e.g. Pizza Tracker) (5) leverage social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, to help generate excitement about the company’s new direction.

Domino’s began by admitting the error of its ways. President Patrick Doyle responded to the inappropriate YouTube video immediately, apologizing to his customers about the SNAFU. Domino’s then apologized to its customer base for the inferior quality of its pizza, admitting that it wasn’t very good.

Domino’s continued the rebranding effort by redesigning pizza boxes and developing surveys to gather and respond to customer feedback. The company used crowdsourcing as a way to gain realistic feedback and act on customer opinions and suggestions.

This feedback was incredibly important for Domino’s survival as a business, as it provided an opportunity to reconnect with its customer base and show that the brand really was listening to its customers. When the feedback was negative, Domino’s took the criticism seriously enough to completely redesign its product from the crust up. At this point, Domino’s launched its “PizzaTurnaround” campaign, which focused on being open with consumers and encouraging them to try the newly designed Domino’s pizza.


The campaign resulted in increasing revenues by 14.3% in the first quarter of 2010. Moreover, the company’s stock has risen 400% since the campaign was implemented. How did Domino’s do it? By aligning the company’s brand message with the core values of the emerging digital culture and employing an effective integrated digital marketing strategy.

The goal of this new campaign was to win back old customers and create new customers by getting them to try Domino’s new and improved pizza. As a part of the campaign, Domino’s created a #newpizza Twitter feed, posted advertisements on YouTube, and developed a Pizza Tracker as part of its website, which is a visually engaging tool that lets customers easily order any kind of Domino’s product online and watch as the pizza makes its way through the steps to delivery. Domino’s became interactive, social, transparent, and open to customer reviews and feedback, reflecting an acute understanding of the new values of the digital culture and of integrated digital marketing strategy.

Domino’s continues to expand its original campaign today with new product campaigns that focus on building trust with its stakeholders – shareholders, employees, and customers alike.


  • List the values of the digital culture that Domino’s adopted and successfully incorporated into its campaign.
  • Apply the Digital Involvement Cycle to Domino’s challenge. How did the new Domino’s campaign move customers through the Cycle?

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Case Study 3: Ben & Jerry’s


Ben & Jerry’s, like many other organizations, needs to keep consumers engaged with its brand and products.


Ben & Jerry’s developed the global “Do the World a Flavor” campaign that used crowdsourcing as a way to both promote the organization’s values and generate ideas for new ice cream flavors and product designs.

Ben & Jerry’s ran a contest across seventeen countries that challenged consumers to go to the brand’s website and invent their own variety of ice cream. Winners would have their ice cream made into an official Ben & Jerry’s flavor and receive a trip to the Dominican Republic to see firsthand where the Fair Trade ingredients used in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are grown. Ben & Jerry’s promoted its brand’s core values by supporting Fair Trade, a global trade model and certification that advocates for fair wages to workers in developing countries.


Ben & Jerry’s developed a digital campaign that incorporated the organization’s values, encouraged customer involvement, and increased the customer experience. Ben & Jerry’s used crowdsourcing to harness the passion of its fans in order to promote the brand in a positive way, generating deeper interaction with consumers along with a slew of new ice cream flavors. With 10,000 new flavor suggestions in the US alone (including iconic hits like “Cherry Garcia” and “Chunky Monkey”), Ben & Jerry’s “Do the World a Flavor” campaign was a resounding success.


  • How did Ben & Jerry’s use crowdsourcing to develop its social brand?
  • How can crowdsourcing be considered an integrated approach to marketing?

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