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What happens when a group of people get together on the web?


They create a “swarm” that collectively moves the world! When consumers get miffed, long gone are the days of writing letters or picketing outside corporate headquarters. Today’s generation goes online and makes their miff known, quite directly. Greenpeace went after Nestle on their Facebook page and let the company know in no uncertain terms that they would not support the use of Palm Oil in their Kit Kat bar.  They then posted a video. It featured a clip of an office worker opening a Kit Kat bar only to discover it had been replaced with an orangutan’s finger. The viral campaign, parodying a Kit Kat television commercial, was intended by Greenpeace to highlight how Nestlé buys palm oil which is produced from the destroyed rainforest homes of the last orangutans in Indonesia. 300,000 video views later, and thousands of Tweets and Facebook postings between consumers and Nestle PR folks and lawyers, have forced the company to re-consider its suppliers and take action.

But PR campaigns and “swarm” activity can also be positive. The online organization carrotmob.com is incentivizing companies to go green, by organizing consumer patronage. Carrotmob.com recently approached 23 liquor stores in San Francisco encouraging them to compete for their organization’s business. The one to go green first, with the greatest impact, would win this “mob’s” business. One such store proved their environmental friendliness by completing an overhaul of their lighting system. They were rewarded with over $9K of sales when the mob arrived on their doorstep to thank them!

Large corporations are also transferring their traditional advertising dollars to online opportunities. Pepsi pulled their Superbowl ads in favor of an online campaign. Jack Leslie, Chairman of Weber Shandwick, a unit of The Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG), one of the world’s leading organizations of advertising agencies and marketing services companies,  says that old forms of advertising originally “targeted millions in order to get thousands, but today we target thousands to reach millions.” Jack Leslie, responsible for the successful “Pepsi Refresh” campaign, shared that Pepsi is giving away millions of dollars each month to fund refreshing ideas to change the world. In an effort to support those who generate innovative, optimistic ideas, the Pepsi Refresh Project  will award more than $20M in 2010. The project as an optimistic catalyst for idea creation, leading to an “ever-refreshing world.” And ever-refreshing profits in the process!

What ideas have you seen that are a swarming success? Please share.

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