Rapper 50 Cent to choose Facebook-designed functional drink

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola-owned Glaceau Vitaminwater is giving consumers the opportunity to design a new addition to its functional beverage range, with the winner being selected by the rapper 50 Cent and country singer, Carrie Underwood.

The crowdsourcing initiative is hosted on a Facebook ‘flavorcreator’ page and had gained about 760,000 fans keen to take the $5000 prize and mix it with the rap and country big-hitters.

Fans get to select flavors and healthy ingredients such as zinc, B vitamins, antioxidants, caffeine and caffeine in an interactive exercise/game hosted by a white-coated lab assistant who states: “It’ll be just like voting for homecoming queen – minus all the high school drama.”

The top flavor is ginger, although there are no guarantees it will feature in Cent and Underwood’s chosen winner in March, 2010.

Cent was an investor in Glaceau, and previously helped design a grape-based flavor before Coke stepped in and snapped up the company for about $4bn in 2007. The rapper is reported to have made about $400m from the transaction.

“We’re basically handing over control and the lab coat to our fans,”​ said Eric Berniker, marketing senior vice president at Vitaminwater in media reports. “It’s one of the hottest brands with youth and of course Facebook is a great way to connect with them.”

Vitaminwater brands include Balance, Endurance, Energy, B-relaxed, Multi-v and xxx and Focus.

Rise of crowdsourcing

Social media has become big business in the past couple of years – not just for the Facebooks and MySpaces of this world – but for businesses keen to tap into the mindsets of existing and potential consumers.

It’s more than market research – there is usually an interactive component that allows consumers to join sites or pages dedicated to initiatives where they play an integral and often transparent part in the development of new products.

Kellogg’s is another company that has been active in social media, using Facebook pages for brands such as Pop-Tarts and getting women to participate in Drop a Jean Size Challenge​ among other interactive activities for its weight management Special K brand.

Such pre-product design communication with consumers can also benefit companies who may be at the end of a social media hate campaign if they get it wrong.

Pepsi found itself in such a position earlier this year when a fierce Twitter-led campaign from loyal Tropicana orange juice users forced an about-face a mere weeks after it radically altered the design of its iconic juice product.

Similar heat came down on Cadbury in 2007 when supporters won the return of chocolate snack, Wispa, via a Facebook and Myspace campaign.

About 60 percent of Twitter users are said to use the 140-character service for business purposes.

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