Big firms tap start-ups

29 January 2013

NEW YORK: Brand owners like the Campbell Soup Company, Nike and PepsiCo are partnering with start-ups and developers to create the next generation of marketing tools.

The Campbell Soup Company, the food group, is offering a prize of $25k and a contract of the same value to a developer producing the best mobile app, game or similar service which helps consumers answer the question: "What's for dinner?"

"We're looking for better, smarter and more efficient ways to connect with our consumers," Adam Kmiec, director of global digital marketing and social media at the Campbell Soup Company, told DigiDay.

"For us this isn't a stunt or a promotion; it's part of the evolution of how we think about marketing. Being a digitally fit organisation means moving at the pace of the consumer marketplace and to do that we need to think differently."

Nike, the sportswear firm, has also launched the Nike+ Accelerator, a three-month "mentor-driven start-up" scheme offering ten firms support to develop additions to its Nike+ stable of connected products.

PepsiCo, the food and beverage giant, served as a forerunner of such ideas with PepsiCo10, a digital incubator programme rolled out in markets including Brazil, Europe and the US.

It was also one of the first marketers to ally with FourSquare, tapping the mobile geo-location platform when it had a modest 30,000 users.

"Technology is becoming more important each day," said Josh Karpf, PepsiCo's director, digital media. "It's about building a competitive advantage by learning and knowing about these tech companies. The best way to do that is to have a direct relationship with them."

A similar goal informs the "Mobile Futures" scheme being run by Mondelez International, the snacks company, where nine firms will create innovative mobile tools in just 90 days for several brands.

"We see the Mobile Futures program as a wonderful opportunity to infuse a bit of the start-up entrepreneurial spirit into our organisation," Steve Doan, senior associate brand manager for OREO, such one, said,

Sam Yagan, the chief executive of OKCupid, an online dating service, argued "savvy brands" hoping to progress in "this brave new world need to make nice with the technologists."

However, Jamie Smyth, chief executive of The Smyth Group, warned that while marketers benefit from the "buzz" associated with these plans, most developers ultimately "get nothing" for their efforts.

Data sourced from DigiDay; additional content by Warc staff