Constructive creativity

Last week I read that Coca Cola built an app on Facebook to crowdsource happiness. Or in the more formal words of Coca Cola; it wants to identify individuals that are creating ideas that can make people happy. There are easily some critical notes to make here – e.g. how about a tighter brief? But what I like about it is that instead of feeding me very sweet commercials – with a matching soft drink – this ‘Happiness factory’ is actually doing something far more constructive; it has the potential to make the world a little better. And though I am often sceptical about ad concepts that crowdsource creativity, this Happiness app reminded me of another fantastic crowdsource-concept I came across in Cannes this year.

Saatchi & Saatchi Israel brought together Palestinian and Israeli families who lost relatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to donate blood alongside each other to save lives on the opposite side, thus becoming blood related. The idea was crowdsourced in Israel and the brief called ‘the impossible brief’ – not an understatement if you know how many people have tried to solve this problem. The casefilm is made in such a beautiful way that it’s hard not to get a lump in your throat – you can easily imagine how it won 5 golden Lions. But apart from that, the concept made me realise once again how much more we can achieve with creativity in advertising than selling superfluous FMCG’s.

I am of course not the first one to make the observation that the ad world has the creative power to solve more structural problems than ‘our sales have dropped with 2.7% in the third quarter.’ Mark Woerde, partner at Amsterdam agency Lemz, last year published a book called “How advertising will heal the world and your business“. In this book – downloadable for free via – he describes how brands should become ‘prosocial,’ rather than simply fulfil individual needs.

It might be a little too optimistic to think that the majority of brands will be healing the world in the future – I believe that marketers will always be primarily interested in sales and avoiding risks. But I hope Woerde’s book predicts a lasting trend pointing into a direction of brands becoming more social. So while I don’t really believe that Coca Cola will make the world a happier place, I hope the brand will at least inspire other marketers to use their budgets, and more specifically, their ad agency’s creativity more constructively.