Greenpeace Crowdsources Activism (Again) with Shell Oil Ad Contest

In this guest op-ed Alec Lynch, the founder and CEO of DesignCrowd, a design crowdsourcing website, argues that political groups like Greenpeace are increasingly relying on the creative power of  online ‘crowds’ to drive activity and create media awareness around their agenda.

Crowdsourcing design is a proven way to generate creative ideas – from logo design to t-shirt design – and now, in an innovative twist, Greenpeace are applying crowdsourcing to environmental activism by asking people to enter an’ad contest’ for Shell Oil via a spoof website ArcticReady.com. Greenpeace’s campaign has generated hundreds of entries and a firestorm on social media.

Here are some of the funnier and more popular advertisements created by the crowd:

Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement

Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement

Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement

Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement

Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement

It’s not the first time Greenpeace have used crowdsourcing to target an oil company. In 2010, Greenpeace ran a logo design contest to re-design BP’s logo (shortly after the BP Oil Spill) with hilarious results and a big social media impact. Thus, the current Shell Oil ad contest appears to be Greenpeace’s second attempt at crowdsourcing and (given the success they’ve achieved) probably not their last.

It’s unclear what Shell can do in response. It’s probably less an issue related to crowdsourcing and more of a legal question related to using a logo or brand to ridicule that brand (i.e. whether the crowd created these or Greenpeace it doesn’t matter – as soon as they’re published and become popular, Shell will get upset).

What is clear is that the power of the crowd to act fast and the number of creative ideas generated. While the message is serious, some of the entries are downright funny. It will be interesting to see how the Greenpeace crowdsourcing initiative plays out (while the site be taken down or not). In the meantime, crowdsourcing remains a powerful tool for a range of organisations from small business and big brands to non-profits and activists. Brands and businesses should consider using professional crowdsourcing websites and services (such as DesignCrowd) to manage their crowdsourcing initiatives.


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