Large Groups Contributing to Large Firms

Today, almost anybody in the world will recognize the logo of the ‘Two Golden Arcs’. This restaurant does not always have a positive image in everybody’s mind. Mediocre quality, fa(s)t food and probably even the extremely hot coffee are negative things associated with this brand. No, McDonald’s does not have the healthiest image. Is that entirely Donald Thompson’s, current CEO of McDonald’s, mistake? The answer is no; society even contributes to further develop this brand.

In the article The Collective Intelligence Genome (Dellarocas ,Laubacher & Malone, 2010) (1), the authors describe (the now extremely popular) principle of crowdsourcing in great detail. They provide the reader with detailed information as to how to make a crowdsourcing project into a success. It might have been the case that Jim Skinner (McDonald’s CEO prior to Thompson) has studied this article before his selection as CEO of one of the world’s most famous brands.

In the last few years, McDonald’s has engaged in quite a lot of these crowdsourcing projects (2). The firm engaged interested people in the design and execution of different ideas within the fast food chain: from creating marketing videos to submitting ideas for the company logo. McDonald’s even let people come up with their own type of burger in Germany! The project received a lot of attention and over 116,000 ‘digital burgers’ were submitted with about 1,5 million votes distributed during the project (3).

As described above, McDonald’s is not necessarily a high-class restaurant. One could argue that the winner of ‘Mein Burger’ in Germany is not necessarily proud to have contributed to the obesity problem of society. However, with McDonald’s being such a global brand and still immensely popular, a different driver could have motivated the winner to even take part in the crowdsourcing project. The article of Malone et al. (2010) describes three different reasons for people to take part in any crowdsourcing project. According to the article, money, love, glory or a combination of these can motivate somebody to take part in a crowdsourcing project (Malone et al., 2010). With regards to the crowdsourcing project at McDonald’s, glory will probably have motivated the 116,000 people to engage in the design of ‘Mein Burger’. Just imagine that you walk into a McDonald’s store after a night out with your friends and they all order the ‘GijsXL with extra bacon’. Now I understand why people took part in the project. I can only hope that Burger King will have a similar task for the crowd in the future because I can guarantee that it will have at least one participant…

(1)         Malone, T., Laubacher, R., & Dellarocas, C. (2010, March 1). The Collective Intelligence Genome. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51, 20-32.

(2)         Roth, Y. (2012, March 6). The 6 best global brands use creative crowdsourcing. eYekas Thought Leadership Blog.


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