Five great examples of co-created content

Authenticity is a word that seems to get thrown about a lot in the marketing world. According to a study by Authentic100, 78% of consumers don’t think brands are open and honest. This increasing cynicism towards brands, highlights a need to become more transparent and authentic.

One way brands are finding success with overcoming this challenge, is by teaming up with their audience to create content.75% of people feel user generated content makes a brand more authentic (the drum). Therefore, it’s a great thing to try in your marketing strategy.

In this blog I’ll be covering a few of my favourite marketing campaigns involving user-generated content. Use these ideas as a bit of inspiration for your next co-creation marketing campaign.

ASOS – #AsSeenOnMe

Back in 2014, ASOS launched a section on their website titled ‘As Seen on Me’. It links to images of their customers wearing clothes purchased from their website. Customers can upload photos directly to ASOS or by using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe on Instagram.

As you’ll probably know fashion blogging is huge on social media. Thousands of users are posting their ‘outfits of the day’. ASOS have cashed in on this trend and have basically created a feed of adverts for their clothes for free!
Takeaway: Trendjack: Jump on social media trends and find a creative way to apply it to your brand.

Starbucks – White Cup Contest

You’ll probably be familiar with Starbucks white cup contest. Each year Starbucks invites its customers to decorate its coffee cups using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. In return they can win a giftcard and their design to be printed on a reusable cup.

The result of the campaign? Loads of visually appealing social media posts which increased Starbucks organic reach and user generated product design!

Takeaway: Run a competition to encourage user-generated content

Cancer Research – No Makeup Selfie

Probably one of the most famous charity user-generated campaigns, Cancer Research no makeup selfie campaign raised more than £8 million in six days.  Incase you aren’t familiar with the campaign, users were encouraged to post selfies without makeup on, and then donate £5 to Cancer Research, and nominate others to do the ‘challenge’.

Takeaway: What you encourage your users to post doesn’t necessarily have to relate to your product. In this case, posting selfies without makeup on doesn’t relate to Cancer Research, yet was still hugely effective.

Loughborough University – #Lborofamily Golden Ticket campaign

Collaboration is at the heart of Loughborough University’s strategy. In 2016, the university sent out personalised golden tickets to all of the year’s new freshers. Many then took to social media to post pictures of them with their golden ticket using the hashtag #LboroFamily. This campaign drummed up excitement and helped the university expand their reach.

Takeaway: Creating something personalised for your audience will help to encourage engagement and user-generated content.


LEGO Ideas launched in 2015. The concept? Lego fans are invited to create an original LEGO build. Next, the fan has to gain support (similar to crowdfunding), if the creator gets 10,000 supporter then the LEGO board reviews the creation and decides whether to make it into a LEGO product to be sold around the world.

There are so many great things about this campaign. Firstly, it shows users being creative with their products. Secondly, to gain support for an idea, the user has to promote their idea (and LEGO) online which expands reach and brand awareness. Finally, having people vote on an idea, shows what LEGO users want to see in the shops.

Takeaway: Let your customers tell you what products they want to see.

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Purpose power: Why mission-led brands are growing 50% faster than their rivals

The players, the sceptics, and why brands looking to put meaning behind the messaging must collaborate with audiences and pick their purpose accordingly…  

Once upon a time, the only thing people expected from brands was products and services they loved: Clothes that fitted. Phones that worked. Food with nice packaging. Basically, stuff.

Not so anymore. In today’s unsettled times, young audiences invest in brands that have a conscience. Brands with morals. Brands that care. They expect brands to give a sh*t. They want brands to listen to what they care about. And care about it too. In short, in 2017 brands without a moral purpose are dead in the water.

Since the phenomenal success of Tom’s Shoes’ ‘Buy a Pair, Give a Pair’ campaign, marketing managers have cottoned on to the fact that ‘purpose’ is a whole new channel through which to engage. The result is that brands have become like super heroes: Nobly fighting injustices, standing up for what’s right and bravely protecting those in peril. ‘Doing good’ has become the new norm, and instilling a moral or social purpose into operations – investing in causes and shaping marketing campaigns around changing the world for the better – is big business.

But is it enough? In a new world where brands are like political parties – being judged just as much on their policies as their products – is jumping on a moral bandwagon still going to cut it? The progressive brands are those that properly engage with their audiences, discover the issues that affect their worlds, and take pertinent actions that really resonate.

The players

When it comes to moral purpose, everyone’s at it. Since Unilever CEO Paul Polman spoke out in 2011 about the importance of mission-led brands (“Winning alone is not enough, it’s about winning with purpose…”), the Anglo-Dutch consumer giant has been firmly committed to driving change. And it’s worked. Marketing Week reported that Unilever’s ‘Sustainable Living’ brands (including Ben & Jerry’s and Dove), grew 50% faster than the rest of its business last year – with these brands now accounting for 60% of total sales growth. Unilever has also released data to say 33% of adults would buy a product from a brand because they believe it is doing social or environmental good – equating to an opportunity of $817bn. Juicy!

And with a report by Mediacom telling us that 40% of consumers have either abandoned or never tried a brand because of its values or behaviours, it’s no wonder that all the major names are bidding to become players in this space. While retail giants like Tesco and M&S are tackling food waste, smaller fashion brands like Vitae and Roma Boots are supplying school uniforms to children in Africa and donating a pair of wellies to those in need for every pair sold (sound familiar?).

The sceptics

As ever, people are sceptical to the melee of moral messages. Do the marketeers at the heart of these social purpose campaigns have dollar signs in their eyes? Do brands really care? Or is it a fad, full of hollow sentiment, aimed at engaging millennials. According to a report by the Endelman Trust, 65% of young consumers think companies overstate their environmental credentials, while 45% are sceptical about the causes brands support.

It’s hardly a surprise that millennials and gen Z aren’t taken in – hook, line and sinker – by moral marketing. This sceptical, media-savvy, empowered and super-informed generation are the very people at the heart of pushing brands to be more ethical, so it stands to be reason they’d be the ones to also demand there is some integrity, authenticity and real action behind the messaging.

Co-created purpose 

According to a Fit for Purpose report by the London agency, Radley Yelder, which detailed 2016’s top 100 purpose-focused brands, 83% of mission-led organisations instil a strong sense of collaboration into their operations – either with competitors, employees or their customers.

When Tesco launched its food waste campaign, its chief executive Dave Lewis told Marketing Week how the company’s new ethical focus was principally driven by customer expectation. With customers at the heart of the purpose drive, it makes sense that brands should involve them in the purpose process – informing their campaigns with detailed insight, and allowing their audiences to co-create those campaigns with them. If a brand really wants to address the most relevant causes that resonate with its customers, it needs to understand what those causes are, how audiences feel about them, and the best ways to involve people in taking action. See our Purpose Power toolkit below for the best ways to engage your customers around the causes that have meaning for them.

Purpose power toolkit: 

Five ways to engage your customers by co-creating your brand mission…

  1. Back insight-driven causes. Ask your customers about the global issues that they really care about in order to inform your social purpose campaigns. Supporting causes that resonate with your audience will drive larger engagement.
  2. Co-create your campaigns. Involve your customer communities in the creation of your campaigns, with real people’s opinions and co-created content. Audience collaboration drives meaning and authenticity
  3. Take action. As more and more brands put social purpose at the heart of their marketing, millennials are becoming increasingly sceptical of empty promises. Messaging is not enough, brands must take tangible action to follow up on the slogans.
  4. Involve your community. Social purpose campaigns that give customer communities the opportunity to really get involved with the good work that is being done, are all the more powerful, tangible and authentic.
  5. Measure your results. Campaigns that are backed by real results drive more meaning with customers. A campaign should be designed so that the data relating to its beneficiaries can easily be captured and communicated. The number of people helped by a brand campaign is a powerful message.