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Participatory Culture: A PR Trend

Lauren Blackwell




by Missy Warren


With the help of social media, many companies have been able to launch campaigns that engage consumers by creating a participatory culture, while also achieving free advertising. This has been a major trend in public relations with major companies such as Coca-Cola, Calvin Klein, and Lay’s taking part in creating a participatory culture.


Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke With’ Campaign: This campaign, which started in 2013, had the simple but brilliant idea of swapping out its traditional logo with the phrase “Share a Coke With” and using various names to fill in the blank. Coca-Cola also incorporated titles such as “father,” “mother,” “soulmate,” “BFF,” and “legend.” They even transformed this campaign for the holidays by using “Santa” and “Mrs. Claus.” This campaign went viral with a fairly simple concept. Consumers had more of an incentive to share content online if their name was written on a can of Coke and this allowed consumers to make a personal connection to the product and brand. (source: What Makes ‘Share a Coke’ Campaign So Successful?)


Calvin Klein’s #mycalvins: If you search #mycalvins on Instagram 356,492 posts will appear. Celebrities such as Kendall and Kylie Jenner and Justin Bieber, who are among the most followed people on Instagram, have participated in this campaign. Again, this campaign is simple, yet rather brilliant, by promoting a participatory culture. Consumers go out and purchase a twenty-something dollar undergarment and then advertise for Calvin Klein for free by using the hashtag, #mycalvins. This is another example of how social media enabled a participatory culture which made free advertising possible.

Lay’s ‘Do Us a Flavor Campaign’: 2016 marks the fourth year that Lay’s has run its “Do Us a Flavor” campaign. Particpants had the option of suggesting a new flavor idea for Lay’s potato chips via the website. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or by texting their suggestions to CHIPS (24477) (source: The Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” Contest is Back!”). The major incentive for this campaign is that the winner is awarded $1 million. Another reason that this campaign was successful is because it allowed consumers to be invested in the brand. Participatory culture is powerful in that it makes consumers feel like they had a part in creating a product. The success of this campaign displayed the power of participatory culture.