Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Adapt and crowdsourcing wont cut agencies out

webman's fridgee art (by noa), originally uploaded by yuvalgo303.

So there is a lot of talk about crowdsourcing at the moment and how it will cut out the agency in the future. Particularly in the UK with Unilever saying it is going to crowdsource the TV ad for pepperami. I read the awesome Jeremy Bullmore's response in last week's campaign. Go and check it out but here is my view point.

Agencies are often seen or say they are the brand custodians. So you would have to argue in this situation it hasnt changed. Ideas that are half baked are great. But would a client want your little boy or girls drawing that sits on the fridge at home to be the centre of their campaign. How will your client choose between your son and your daughter or even the kid around the corner. What about the difference between your child and the adult who made up their idea on photoshop. What about the difference between publicising your creative team to the Sun for their great idea or publicising a 17 year old who is smack bam in the middle of your target audience. If their idea is a simple concept uploaded onto a website who is going to make it happen.

I think you see where I am going with this. The interesting thing I find is that agencies collaborate with creative talent everyday. Producers, directors, photographers, animators etc. Why should the crowd be any different. Im seeing behind the scenes videos of little jonny's day at the big creative agency making his ad. Meeting hot models at the casting. Chatting with the cute TV Producers (agency producers are usually hot) going out for lunch at the Ivy with the MD etc. So all I ask is dont jump to conclusions but dont run at the idea straight away either. Remember to ask yourself some simple questions.
  1. What is the strategic direction for my brand
  2. How do I want my brand to behave
  3. What is still... the insight for my audience
  4. Do they want to get involved with my brand...
  5. Is crowdsourcing the way to get my audience involved with the brand
  6. Is there other ways
  7. Whats the value of their idea outside just a TV or press ad
  8. How can we use the crowd once we have picked a winner
Im sure there are plenty of others. But here are a few simple ones to start off with that I think we often overlook. For peperami going through the questions makes the idea of crowdsourcing seem like a good one. Especially in the world of Idol and XFactor. I can even see the 'ones that didnt make it' special on E4 on sunday afternoon with Steve Jones now (sorry non UK people).

What worries me is Unilever's view to get rid of roster agencies as they believe its a sustainable way to create activity for the future. Making ads is one thing. Taking your brand into the future is another. It is a similar argument thats happened for years on taking creative in house. I saw this happen once on a bank in Australia. It lasted about 18 months before they realised they were functional, boring and had no creativity at all. So they broke up the internal agency and hired an agency once again. Agencies have value, its just not black and white. We all need to constantly need to adapt to the environment to show it to clients.

So bring on the crowsourcing... if it fits the bill. Agencies dont be afraid. Adapt to more of a brand custodian role and brave out the new shiny thing that every one is staring at. For years everyone has been stating that agencies need to get away from making money from producing and more about selling thinking.... the crowd might force it to happen like everything else its has.

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