BMW's The Urban Driving Experience Challenge

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BMW teamed up with Local Motors, an online community dedicated to mobility solutions, to crowdsource the search for new mobility trends and solutions that could be integrated in BMW and Mini vehicles in 2025.

Here is the intro trailer emphasizing BMW’s leadership role when it comes to automotive innovations:

Here the design brief video from BMW:

Learn more about the competition here:

The submission phase has just ended, now it is the crowd’s turn to vote for the most innovative and promising submissions until 23 October 2012. The winner will be announced 31 October 2012.

Sounds like an interesting competition and from a first glance at the submissions more than 400 ideas and concepts have been entered. Quite a good result in my eyes. I do not know how and where this competition was advertised (I only read abot it in an automotive blog) but looking at 400 submissions the right audience was reached via adequate channels and platforms.

Take a look at the submissions now and register to vote.

Social Media's role in events and catastrophes


The recent catastrophe at the Loveparade in Duisburg, Germany once again showed how Social Media has changed the way we produce and share information and thus how news are made today. Information has been democratized. No longer are we dependent on the information provided by the government or the nearest newspaper. News arrive immediately and right from the place where it happens. Information helps us mak better decisions. It is not far-fetched if some argue that tomorrow’s wars are no longer won by the better equipped army but by the better informed army.

To provide a better impression of the point I am trying to make here, I have simplified the events and grouped them into three stages: before the event, during the event and after it. In this order, I will discuss the role Social Media has or could have played.

Running Social Media analysis tools could have provided a good impression of how many people were expected to show up in Duisburg. As we all never „walk alone“, we ususally try to attend events with our dearest friends or at least with people who share the same interests as we do. Thus many of the guests used social communities and platforms to organize. They talked about the upcoming event on Twitter and in blogs and forums in order to inform themselves about the event. They searched for recommendations of experienced love parade goers to find out about how to best get there, where to spend the night, etc. Aside from all the hype and anticipation, there were also critical voices who no only spoke out their concerns but also wrote them down: in forums, blogs, social communites or on Twitter. Obviously they were not heard or not considered important (maybe the recent trend of crowdsourcing has not arrived in this segment)
Both aspects can be traced afterwards as „the internet does not forget things…“

Major events attract thousands of people. The closer you come to the center of action, groups merge with bigger groups, join the stream of people and become masses of people. And usually there is only one way: forward. One easily looses orientation and even has trouble staying together as a group.

Sounds as chaotic as an anthill at a quick glance. But ants do not collide. While the ants usually have total control of the situation, humans easily get lost. In fact many experts who deal with behavior analysis or traffic analysis ofte draw parallels to animal kingdom. Very often animals seem to have become experts when it comes to organize large numbers.
Humans also manage to get along. Take a big railway station or an airport for example. Thousands of people each with different destinations manage to get along without permanently crashing into one another. I experience this a lot. And it works perfectly fine. Individual distance is one of the phenomenon helping us to find our way. But there are limitations. As soon as the crowd is very heterogenous this automatic sense for passing by does no longer work. We see this on the autobahn (highway) or during rush hour in public transportation when everyday commuters meet people on a holiday trip, or when young dynamic people mix with elderly more slow people. Their different habits and speeds collide. The same goes for large audience who often due to small causes panic.
Is there a solution? Well yes, communication is one way. But as soon as a certain number of people is reached this won’t work anymore, there are simply too many people. Here cell phones and text messages but also microblogging services such as Twitter but also facebook for your phone could be of great help to communicate and to get rational objective information about what is going on. While in the Woodstock era you had no chance of sharing information with people in the distance, today many of us become real-time reporters, sharing their impressions by text, image or even video. These news are often very accurate and foremost, they are fast as hell. People report things as they happen.

And things happened in Duisburg. People attending the love parade not only broadcasted the fun and joy but also the fear and panic when all of a sudden there were simply too many people for a narrow tunnel.
This reminded me of Crowdsourcing, another buzz word in marketing these days and a technique often used to solve complex problems. While there are some who praise crowdsourcing to be the source of all solutions, others deem it to be inefficient and an illusion. Or in other words: the crowd is stupid so better rely on few experts. Now with the Duisburg loveparade case, one could argue that yes, the masses were stupid or behaved in an irrational and fatal way. Having put the decision into the hands of one single smart leader could have avoided the panic. Maybe. But how do you want to communicate in a group of several hundred thousand people and why should they listen and to whom? Impossible.
Also, crowdsourcing is a strategy that can be applied only to a certain fixed situation. It requires that you are free to choose between alternatives and also have the time to do so. In the case of the loveparade the crowd had no moderator or leader who organized them and could have filtered every single persons best strategy. Thre was no structure behind like when you ask 20 people to guess the exact weigth of any given person. But even when there is no framework, crowdsourcing techniques may work for a limited number of people. But without a framework, even Social Media cannot provide the necessary transparency to bring some order into the masses. In sum, there were simply too many people, they were in a state of lacking information or a lacking transparent information and their actions where impulsive, subjective and rather reactions. There was no control and thus panic.

However, Social Media did have a positive effect: it enabled people to use their cell phones and communicate to the braod public that something was going wrong here. In real time.


Merriness soon turned into madness. But even with all the sad events having happened, Social Media again plays a helpful role. It enabled people to contact their friends, discuss their impressions and thus provide first-hand information to the public. Forums and blogs as well as social networks enabled people to get into contact. Again, the fact that the internet has a pretty good memory turns out very helpful for the police and other institutions investigating the case. It is as if the whole area had been plastered with video cameras and paparazzi. User-generated content now becomes highly relevant material for the case. And there is plenty. „love parade 2010“ returns 7460 video results on
Hopefully this will contribute to find out who is to be hold responsible for the panic.

As for the extreme speed at which Social Media travels, it raises the question if analyzing Social Media is not a mandatory element for major events. Just as major corporations and consumer brands should always keep track of what is being said about them. Maybe then, previous warning messages posted by people familiar with the Duisburg area or those who have participated in previous loveparades would have been heard and taken into consideration. As smart as the sum of minds may be, in a state of panic humans often behave irrational and counterproductive. Looking into animal kingdom may be of help to better organize masses. During an event the possibilities to control a group are limited. It is best to provide in advance options to escalate the event. And one should always take into account the worst case. As said before, masses are irrational…

Crowdsourcing 101: Why Vitaminwater's Facebook App Can't Lose

BY Clay DillowThu Sep 10, 2009 at 12:12 PM

When it comes to game-changing ideas, is there really wisdom in crowds? Given several efforts at crowdsourcing creative content and product development in recent years, more than a few companies seem to think so. What’s less clear is why some crowdsourcing efforts are wildly successful while others fall flat. Vitaminwater raised the question again this week when it released a new „flavor creator“ app for Facebook, inviting users to vote for a new flavor and vitamin formula for a new product release, even offering $5,000 to the fan who creates a winning packaging design. The crowd gets a product of its own creation, and Vitaminwater gets a pre-approved-by-the-crowd product for release in March. Everybody wins, right?



Letting history be the judge, the answer is at best a „maybe.“ Doritos has enjoyed measurable success crowdsourcing Super Bowl ads with its „Crash the Bowl“ contest, notching the No. 1 most watched Super Bowl ad on YouTube in 2006. But a nearly identical marketing initiative by Chevrolet asking users to create their own Tahoe ads online turned into a forum for the anti-SUV set to bash the product on Chevy’s own Web site. More recently, advertising powerhouse Crispin, Porter + Bogusky learned the hard way that crowdsourcing can go seriously awry, drawing fire from its own creative community after issuing an open call to designers to create a logo for one of its clients, essentially soliciting free design work. So how will Vitaminwater avoid Crispin’s crash and burn and turn its crowdsourcing experiment into a success?

The greatest advantage of crowdsourcing is that it costs relatively nothing. While Crispin failed to recognize that crowdsourcing from a professional group–that is, asking people to do something they do for a living for free–would be taken as an insult, it did garner hundreds of submissions for a logo design, gratis (the winning design scored $1,000, a pittance for graphic work). In that sense, Crispin succeeded, but at the expense of its reputation (and that of its client, a major faux pas in for a company hired to build up brands). Companies like Doritos or Vitaminwater, appealing to non-professionals who are nonetheless experts on the topic (ask a child why she like Doritos and you’ll likely get a reasoned answer) for creative ideas holds far less potential downside as long as the anti-vitamin lobby doesn’t sabotage the project.

But the real difference between Crispin’s backfire and Vitaminwater’s likely success is what the companies are really getting from the crowd. The biggest thing Vitaminwater has to fear from its initiative is that the crowd won’t produce a winning product. When Crispin’s logo experiment flopped, it flopped hard. But even if its product fails, Vitaminwater has a catalog of other popular flavors to fall back on, as well as tons of priceless, free market data gleaned from the „flavor creator“ app that can be rolled into several future products (keep in mind, downloading the app gives Vitaminwater access to all sorts of data on your page). Couple that with the heightened brand visibility the app will create as its nearly 600,000 fans access the app and invite their friends to participate, and even a complete bust on the product development side becomes a coup for Vitaminwater’s marketing team, as well as for its product development crew.

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iSnack 2.0 oder Was Crowdsourcing so bewegen kann

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Ein sehr netter Artikel über crowdsourcing in Australien am Beispiel Kraft Foods.

Kraft Foods Vegemite

Kraft Foods Vegemite

Aufgeschnappt im Fischmarkt Blog von SinnerSchrader

Hier gehts lang

Is Social Media a Fad?

A very convincing presentation of the social media issue and its enormous reach. Who would have thought some years ago that anything could change the saying „the internet is porn“. Social media did just that. And it managed to surpass physical boundaries, bringing into every home live tweets from crisis areas such as Afghanistan or even Iran. Or as recently in Germany, election estimation results before the public press. That this phenomenon may collide with existing laws or regulations is another issue of social media. More and more companies, sports teams and parents need to intervene to avoid the post of critical information. But still, social media enables people all over the world to link, exchange impressions, attitudes, and insights in a way conventional media such as TV or the press could never do.
As to social media as a business strategy: it can work but it largely depends on how honestly you use it. At the end of the day, the internet is one huge civil courtroom, where inappropriate behavior oftentimes is immediately punished (United Airlines may just be one example).