Co-creation is the need of the hour!

03 Jul,2019


By Sanjeev Kotnala


Is it time to co-create? You have to decide. Are you going to leverage the potential of co-creation NOW or willing to regret later?

The IPL is over, rains are settling in, and the World Cup is reaching towards its climax. And the festival period is still some time away. The Cannes Advertising Festival is over. The party and congratulatory messages will dry out soon. The fire for missing out will die quickly. There is no better time than now to start afresh.

The month of June has ended and the brands are busy firming up their strategies. The proactive ones are briefing their agencies. The real smart one is getting into research to evaluate creative.

Soon the laptops and servers in media agencies will start heating up. The media owners will start racing up to client and agencies for their share of advertisement investment.

The silos working within the industry silos will come alive with a heightened buzz. They will create an illusion of working as well-oiled machinery.

Everyone across brand ecosystem is interested in getting his or her point of view in the final brand strategy and execution. The ego will start popping up uninvited. The bitching will start. Idea ownership and emotional attachment to the ideas will further deepen the gap between silos and define the new turf.

Soon the year will be over. The independent units in the ecosystem of interdependence would have once again failed to co-create. You have to decide. Are you going to leverage the potential of co-creation NOW or willing to regret later?

Management will haul HR. Some of them will get a consultant to speak and introduce Co-creation and celebrate it as a contribution of learning and development programme.

Co-Creation is a must for the brands?

Come to think of it. Co-creation is the basis of life on the planet. There is hardly anything ever created, destroyed, administered, implemented or achieved without co-creation. It is almost like nature has been serving you the secret of sustained success and growth. But that is the discussion for some other day.

Failure to co-create is a disservice to the brand. In absence and resistance to co-creation, the brand continues to remains chained to creativity as experienced, expressed, exploited and explored in our area of expertise or profession by the brand custodian and team. Newton’s law of communication.

Co-creation helps to get leveraged cross-pollination of ideas. It allows for positive evolutionary mutation. Darwin theory of evolution.

Co-creation uses every creative superpower of Making, Hacking, Teaching and Thieving. It builds on the medium and brand promise with Saam (Logic, rational, inference), Daam (Price or opportunity), Dand (Penalty, constraints, frugalism) and Bhed (differentiation, uniqueness, relevance doubt) philosophy.

Co-creation raises questions and seeks collective wisdom to make things possible. Collective wisdom is a level of knowledge, understanding and wisdom that is impossible to be accessed by any individual. Just having people in the room does not evoke collective wisdom. Collective wisdom is only in operation in groups responsible for a joint action addressing singular probortunity wit complete freedom and empowerment.  It stretches the capabilities and breaks the barriers for the best results.

Co-creation is omnipresent in the advertising-marketing arena.

The creative agency and the client co-create the campaign, and research, insight and concept testing represent the consumer. The media, event and activation agencies play an essential role in co-creating the whole experience and engaging the desired audience.

In all of this process, one critical silo remains traditionally unengaged. The media. And in the process, the brand is ultimately losing out on the chance of co-creating some unique media solution.

Involve Media In Co-Creation!

It’s rare when the clients and agencies include media in the co-creation process. Maybe they find media entirely transactional. The media is always fighting the war for a share of wallet. They have rarely shown interest in understanding the brands probortunity.

No doubt, the client and creative agencies have not considered them worthy of a brand communication discussion. Most in media have no experience of the fun, charm and fruits of inclusive co-creation through multi-functionary teams?

However, people in media know how the brand strategic direction can be best leveraged in media through innovative usage and representation.

Can Media Take The First Step?

Maybe the media can take the first step. Perhaps it is time for media owners to work with their most innovation savvy, creatively inclined, quick decision making clients and brands. Time to experiment with co-creation.

This is best done with a classical cross-functional team in a two-day offsite workshop. Workshops like InNoWait and ideal harvest, and the one based on designing thinking, constraints breaking, collective wisdom and/or brain-swarming in a liberate framework works the best.

I personally swear by the controlled positive rivalry infused in these cross-functional teams. Each of them pushed to explore the possibilities. The results are nothing short of being magical.

Ideas left at directional developmental stage usually die archived in presentations that are never reassessed. Hence, I suggest co-creation events and workshop take that extra leap of faith and complete the loop by developing the whole idea, including implementation routes.

It does cost time and money, but the results you get are disproportionate. Efficient communication, lowered media weights, revenue and enhanced brand imagery, are some of the by-products.

Co-Creation Team.

The most effective co-creation team has a comprehensive representation. It is an inclusive team with consumer, influencers, research, client, creative, media agency and media owner team as members. Getting media production department representation further strengthens the team.

More To Co-Creation?

Co-creation expects that all the members be on the same page on probortunity (Problem or opportunity) definition. This includes brand positioning, strategic intent, experience and possibilities.

The members are chosen not for their designation and seniority, but for the mind-set, attitude and passion.

Co-creation is like the roulette table. You need to play big to win big. Most importantly, you are empowered to make the call.  The decision makers are at the site as an unbiased observer.

Get An External Pied Piper For Co-Creation.

That’s the final requirement. The Facilitator.

You need a Pied Piper to excite the child inside the participants. One who will ensure that the game is played with complete transparency, honesty and curiosity?

The facilitator job is to channelize ideas and keep the heat on. The facilitator ensures participants are not trapped within the coordinates of constraints and excuses. The ideas are not killed in mind. The participant continues to indulge in a childlike curiosity allowing them to question all barriers with a simple ‘Why Not?’ Hence, the facilitator must not represent any of the participating silos.

Co-Creation Is Collective.

Co-creation is format, category and media agnostic. It can be used for a tactical or thematic purpose. It can lead the communication or act as a support.

The real fun of co-creation is that everyone is creative and curator. The best idea emerges with collective ownership and increased passion pushing its chances to succeed.

PRINT Can Best Benefit From Co-Creation.

Though co-creation can happen across every silo in the brand ecosystem of a brand. In the advertising arena, Print media, both newspaper and magazine are the most promising area for co-creation and its benefit.

Co-Creation – Don’t Kill The Golden Goose.

Co-creation works when all the participants have a singular objective. In the business of communication, that is the universal uniting force, the best for the brand. In such a situation, the frame of mind needs to be of expanding the range of possibilities.

The associated Media should be set reasonable charges for execution; they should freely help execute the idea in another media. It’s tough, but in an idealistic situation, if it seems so, they should willingly acknowledge that the brand would benefit more when the idea is executed in a different media. The ‘Go-Giver’ attitude is something that will be appreciated by anyone and sooner or later benefits the brand and the media.


Co-creation is for equal accountability and responsibility. If you get credit for the excellent work, the team collectively must be willing to take it on the chin when the idea fails to give the expected results. Also, do remember that neither advertising nor co-creation is the answer to every probortunity.

How To Fail In Co-Creation?

It is easy to fail in co-creation. Carry your ego inside the co-creation room. Create a situation of negative rivalry among teams. Make it a place to demonstrate capabilities. Seat, talk, discuss hierarchically. Make a singular department responsible for co-creation. And then the absence of engaged senior with decision-making capabilities are some of the ways to make it ineffective. Otherwise, just follow the nature secret- Co-Create.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.