Crowdsourcing creativity: could this actually happen?
Imagine there are two agencies left in a pitch for a beer account. Four others have been eliminated including the incumbent.
But the client, as all clients do, asks for one more round of creative. Both agencies are pretty spent. Unbeknownst to each other, each agency decides to crowdsource its final round of creative in hopes of finding something fresh.
Fortunately, the competing shops each choose a different crowdsourcing platform. Agency A chooses to go with Victors and Spoils; Agency B signs on with AdHack. Both platforms assure that they can conduct the process secretly. Victors and Spoils is confident because it has a vetted group of creative talent from all over the world; the company knows much of its community personally and can admit to the “competition” only those who it feels bit the bill.
AdHacks is sure because it has all the legal non-disclosure documentation built into its registration along with a reputation management system that ranks past contributors for adherence to the rules.
The agencies submit their briefs; the briefs are visible only to the participants and not the public. And while anything that ends up on the web can is fair game, both agencies willingly gamble they can keep things contained.
Meanwhile, a young, bored creative team learns about the crowdsourcing request for concepts because the writer on the team is part of the V&S community. At the same time, the art director has previously submitted ideas to AdHack and hears about the call for work from them. The team comes up with a campaign that includes, TV, experiential, and social all wrapped up in a coherent theme. In order to double its chances, the duo decides to enter the same work on both platforms. Why not, right?
Agency A (the one that went with V&AS) loves the work and presents it as part of their final pitch. Agency B (who went with AdHack) thinks the idea is lame, casts it aside and goes with something else. Lo and behold, the crowdsourced campaign is the deciding factor and Agency A prevails.
Starting to sound like the Twilight Zone? Well consider this. The creative team that submitted the work was a junior team at the incumbent agency, which was cut from the pitch in the first round. However, at that agency, the team whose work won wasn’t even invited to participate as part of the pitch team; they were deemed too young inexperienced to be beer-pitch-worthy.
Last week, in Boulder, Colorado, I had long conversations with John Winsor of Victors and Spoils and James Sherrett of AdHack. We chatted about the current state of this new tactic, the quality of participating communities and the satisfaction of current clients. Crowdsourcing is still relatively new. No one really knows where it’s going, how many clients and agencies will embrace it, or how good the work will be. But one thing we did agree on is that a scenario like the one above could actually happen. I can only hope that I’m not Agency B when it does.
Photo by Michael