Collaboration Pays Off: a Mini-Case Study

or, how I won the Adobe Master Suite @ SXSWi 2008, with a little help from friends…

2008 SXSWi "Big Bag" — image by Hugh MacLeod, sponsored by Adobe

2008 SXSWi “Big Bag” — image by Hugh MacLeod, sponsored by Adobe

Adobe always enjoys a strong presence at the SXSW Interactive Festival (SXSWi), from acting as long-time sponsor of the annual “Big Bag” to hosting the Adobe Day Stage Cafe, with book readings panel presentations, and a great place for informal networking meet-ups. Day stage presentations emphasizing collaboration and tools and processes for streamlining development workflow provided solid, non-commercial content.

Adobe was promoting their Adobe Creative Suite 3® with web tools Dreamweaver, Flash and Firework (from subsumed rival Macromedia) now added to their own Adobe InDesign® , Adobe Photoshop®, and Adobe Illustrator®, among others.

CS3 came in various “editions,” including both standard and premium versions of Design (with InDesign and print tools) and Web (with Dreamweaver and web tools) packages, plus the Production Premium version (including most of the individual products) and the Master Collection (all of the production lines).

Adobe enlivened their promotional presence additionally at the 2008 SXSWi with a sweepstakes featuring a variety of prizes, the grand prize being the Master Collection.

Fortune cookieBut this sweepstakes added a couple of twists. First, you had to earn the tickets. Chinese fortune cookies were scattered around the high-standing tables lining the area, each containing half of a paired phrase. For example, “If a picture is worth a 1,000 words…” would be paired with “…then Adobe Flash must be worth a million!” to make a match. Find 2 fortune cookies with the matching parts of a phrase and turn them in together, and you earn a ticket in the sweepstakes.

That’s where they added an extra twist, though, to promote collaborative behavior. If you turned in a matching set by yourself, you got one ticket. If you and a partner brought up a match, you both got tickets. That’s when it hit me and I saw the obvious “cheat code” they’d given us: collaboration.

“Hey,” I turned to two other people, “Just start cracking open as many of these as you can.” I said. When they looked a little puzzled, I explained, “Then we lay the papers out in groups, pair them up and cash them in for tickets — two people at a time for two tickets.” They still looked a little skeptical, but slowly started cracking open fortune cookies. “See, we can all get more tickets if we all work together — easier to find a match and you still get the ticket. It’s win-win every time.” We started piling up the paper slips by phrases and pairing them up. Grabbing other people walking by, we grew our team and the pile of paper slips, turning pairs in for tickets every so often. Pretty soon, we were hauling in sweepstakes tickets by the handful.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master CollectionIn fact, in the end, the hardest part about this strategy was checking the numbers on dozens of tickets during the drawings. They awarded a series of smaller prizes — I won a moleskine notebook! — before drawing for the grand prize.

Sure enough, the collaborative strategy paid off big time — I won the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, with a market value of $2,500. Not bad for about a half-hour of collaboration.

The next year, Adobe held another sweepstakes drawing at the 2009 SXSWi, giving away that year’s model, the Adobe Creative Suite4 Master Collection. They changed the sweepstakes rules somewhat by changing about the mechanics of earning tickets — turning in matching sets of Adobe-branded cards to earn tickets — but the same tactic worked: open collaboration and sharing.

Again, I won the Grand Prize. “I won last year, too,” I bragged to the contest MC, startling her a bit, before she scowled slightly.

Adobe continued to host the day stage the following year — but there was no similar giveaway contest.

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About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in Buller, creativity, SXSW, Teamwork and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Collaboration Pays Off: a Mini-Case Study

  1. Jill Frazier says:

    Bet your collaborators net some cool prizes too. Love the strategy

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