If you remember the Blair Witch Project, you will no doubt remember all the attendent hype. You'll remember that the film was made on a shoestring budget, but maybe not that it was also marketed for even less. Yet incredibly successfully.
Alex Wipperfurth's superb book Brand Hijack explains how, and presents a framework adopted by Red Bull, by Apple and many others whereby brand managers are turning to the masses to define, segment and market their products for them.
"With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow". It seems that with enough Is, brands are in fact deeper. Wipperfurth talks convincingly about the "tribes" and "cults" that have sprung up around various totem poles. Rather than erecting the poles, successful companies are instead handing out chisels and letting the good people do it for them. The resulting brands succeed because they are "defined by cool" - rather than "chasing cool". The result of this - loyalty beyond reason and high profits, though not necessarily from where you thought.
One step of logic not open when the book was published was that of Second Life. If you want to open source a brand - why not do it online where speed of interaction is high and cost is low. Nike might want to look at World of Warcraft for their next product launch. Boots of striding and leaping?
Pabst Blue Label beer - which features strongly in the book - is already at it.
Though not explictly labelled "open source" it seems a good example of the concept's spread from traditional software sector. How much further it goes is open for debate. Services, I'd suggest, could all easily follow. With little fixed cost centres and easily facilitated peer review and recommendation, services like marketing and consulting are well suited to open sourcing. Business Week last podcast even told of mining companies open sourcing the search for gold.
Pharmaceuticals, heavily regulated with high fixed cost assets (laboratories, etc.) will have trouble following. Whilst code or brand is hard to fake, clinical trials cannot be subjected to remote peer review so easily. If anyone knows of any advance examples it'd be great to hear about them. For now it seems those "bugs" are of the electronic kind only.