J.Crew has discovered it. The British supermarket chain Waitrose has discovered it. And now, Delta Airlines has discovered it too.
And what exactly have they discovered?
Well, that co-creation can actually be child’s play – if brands are open to thinking like one.
At AE Marketing Group, we’re passionate advocates of co-creation and have a Lab Series dedicated to helping brands leverage the movement. When companies truly empower their employees and engage consumers by having them work hand-in-hand together, the end result is the co-creation of better industries, smarter products and richer experiences.
We’ve learned that the spark for co-creation can also come from anywhere, so long as brands are open to a wide array of possibilities and ideas. That’s because sometimes co-creation can be inspired by the unlikeliest of consumers – including even children. Previously, we’ve shared the story of how J.Crew engaged with a 4-year-old fashion prodigy to design a line of children’s clothing and how Waitrose redesigned packaging labels based upon the feedback of 7-year-old boy.
Not every brand would be open to the ideas of a child, but savvy ones know that inspired ideas can indeed come from anywhere. The latest brand to open its ears up for a preteen consumer is Delta, which recently received a message from Benjamin Jensen, an 8-year-old resident of Ogden, Utah.
According to Travel + Leisure, while watching the TV show “Why Planes Disappear,” Benjamin came up with a clever solution to a problem that most recently puzzled Malaysian Airlines (and the world) with the mysterious disappearance of Flight 370 in 2014.
The son of two Air Force veterans and a lifelong fan of aviation and military airplane design, Benjamin thought, “We could have a system that has neon balloons that rise up to the surface when the plane crashes in the sea – and there would be stones at the bottom so they would stay there.”
He added that the balloons could be made of reinforced rubber, giving them the ability to withstand pressure and keep them from floating all the way up into the air. And that by inserting an RF transmitter inside each balloon, they then could easily be located by search parties.
After conjuring up his idea, Benjamin drew a sketch of his design and mailed it to Delta CEO Richard Anderson. The airline, of course, could have dismissed a litter from an 8-year-old child, but as it turns out Delta took Benjamin’s idea seriously, and the brand loved it.
John Laughter – the airline’s senior vice president of safety, security, and compliance – went so far as to send Benjamin a package with two model airplanes, some Delta swag, and a note that read, “I work with many Delta people, The Federal Aviation Administration, and airplane manufactures to solve problems such as airline tracking in an emergency. There are lots of experts thinking about ideas just like you sent us. I will make sure to share your plans with them!”
Will Benjamin’s idea ever take flight? That remains to be seen.
But what brands can learn from this tale is that co-creation can liftoff with even the smallest of pilots at the helm. Don’t overlook the power of engaging consumers of all sizes.