Why it was smart of Havas to buy Victors and Spoils

Victors & Spoils has had no problem attracting clients

When Victors & Spoils was first launched two-and-a-half years ago, the company had more detractors than fans. (Note, I was among the latter.) Much of the industry dismissed the idea that the model could ever replace the traditional agency/client relationships. The more vocal members of the creative community found all kinds of reasons to condemn the new company. The talent wouldn’t be as good. The whole idea of crowd sourcing would undermine the value of the creative person. The best people wouldn’t submit to this kind of process and platform.

Co-founder/CEO John Winsor and I had numerous conversations about why the critics were wrong. Great ideas can come from anywhere. Plenty of people would welcome the chance to have their ideas considered. (After all, how many of us encounter a daily dose of rejection already?) Clients had tired of paying for overhead and some of the excesses of the advertising industry.  And since agencies could only sell the talent they had on staff, by definition they were limited in the number of ideas they could generate to solve a problem.

Clearly, John and his partners were a step ahead of the critics. From day one the agency met with success.  Thousands of creatives from all over the world joined the community.  And the agency’s pitch resonated with lots of clients. Dish, Discovery Channel, GAP, General Mills, Harley Davidson, Virgin America, Levi’s and a host of other brand name advertisers signed on.

And why not?  They could get a slew of ideas — curated, filtered and on strategy — for a lot less money than they would pay in a typical retainer relationship.

From the very beginning I thought this was the perfect acquisition for a holding company. Think about it. Holding companies serve large global clients. They make the claim — sometimes actually true — that they can harness the collective the resources of multiple sister agencies to serve a client’s total needs. Yet they really don’t have a model, infrastructure or software platform for doing so. Ask anyone who has participated in a cross agency (there’s a more disparaging word for it) shoot out and they’ll tell you it’s among the more miserable experiences in which you could ever participate. In many cases it wastes time and resources. And for the individuals encouraged (if not forced) to participate it often results in nothing more than demoralization.

But with Victors & Spoils platform — the community, the software, the process — it could be so much more efficient. A holding company can tap into an existing community, create a new one, invite more people to participate with less time and effort, and effectively manage and evaluate more submissions. Add some incentives or gaming dynamics, make it easier for people to throw in ideas, and it’s likely that participants might even welcome the opportunity to help the company cause. Perhaps more importantly, clients might have a genuine reason to believe that multiple agencies could work together on their behalf.

Until now, most ad agencies have been threatened by Victors & Spoils. They’re perceived to undermine the value of individual creatives, diminish the role and impact of the creative director who hires and guides them, and convey to clients that there might be a better idea outside the walls of the agency.

But if, in the end, our job is to solve big problems, deliver the best and most effective idea, and leave no stone unturned in determining it, maybe we should all acknowledge that community, software, and yes, crowdsourcing techniques, are the way to go. Maybe not always, but certainly sometimes. Add to that the fact that we really only have two choices — resist progress or embrace it — and we have even more reason to welcome the innovation that V&S has pioneered over the last two years.

John Winsor, Claudia Batten and Evan Fry had the vision and the courage to try and change how ad agencies work. Looks like the big holding companies — at least one of them – is starting to believe they’re onto something.

 

38 comments
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esrati
esrati

Edward, I'd think Victor and Spoils just won- with the Havas buy out, I doubt that they'll be able to do what they did as effectively.

John and Evan cash out-

part of the allure was the moderation of CP+B execs-

but, all that said- I've not seen any work that blew me away- esp. the Harley campaign which just blew.

The whole beauty of V&S was in it's independence- as part of Havas it's gone.

Someone else can copy this model- and will.

It's probably the future of a part of our business- but, honestly- as long as creative people are willing to so spec pitches- why not do it this way? At least you protect your identity.

miketrap
miketrap

For me the bigger question is whether it was smart for V&S to sell to Havas. There was surely a price at which it was, I hope they got there.

Latest blog post: Closing Down Scalable Intimacy

michelrothschil
michelrothschil

@strawberrycough very one sided for the exception of one... still a hater for other reasons. I think its opportunistic

NishadRamachandran
NishadRamachandran

Interesting development for sure Edward. I never expect this to happen so quickly.  I think there are bigger more dramatic ones waiting to happen. Like IBM or CapGemini buying up a W+K or BBH

benkunz
benkunz

From a business model and efficiency perspective, the V&S system is sheer genius. From the view of a person who participated in it once, it sucks. This is not meant as a ding (I mentioned my poor experience briefly to John at SXSW 13 months ago) but as honest feedback. I recall thinking I'd try contributing, and offering up what I thought was a great recommendation, and then getting a few canned emails back. Then nothing. Dead air. Poof. This is understandable, obviously personal calls with scores of contributors couldn't be profitable, but I'm used to leading, to human feedback, to the empathy and arguments and praise and the that-SUCKS-no-it's-GOOD gritty friction of working with people in a forum of mutual respect, and the cold email responses left me, well, cold. My fragile ego was broken. I'm used to being the smart guy in the room, and in this one exposure, I was a nobody. That's the nature of the crowdsourcing business. I think V&S is a good business model, but a lousy human one. So count me in as half a fan.

rebeccacaroe
rebeccacaroe

There are so many opportunities for new business models for agencies and we're going to be seeing a heap of other offerings in years to come.  Good for them for getting paid for their vision.  

 

We're writing a blog post series on the "Creative Agency of the Future" and tagging it #FutureAgency - come in and have a read - tell us what you think the future will bring.

 

A blog about agency new business development

creativeagencysecrets.com

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I remember when these guys launched. I was a hater, I admit that. I thought their model was exploitative and their communication style/brand snide and mean-spirited. Since then, I've come around just a bit. Bottom line: no one is being forced to work for V&S and, in fact, V&S might just offer creatives a proving ground from which they can emerge stronger and better qualified. Clients are certainly getting a good and there's nothing wrong with that.

YRNY
YRNY

RT @edwardboches: Why it was smart of Havas to buy Victors and Spoils http://t.co/TUIGltnG New Post inspired by success of friend @jtwinsor

michaelgass
michaelgass

@edwardboches @jtwinsor Thanks to you both. Glad to see Havas embrace this. I'm currently working w/ their Media & Digital divisions.

michaelgass
michaelgass

 @edwardboches Thanks for sharing and much appreciation is extended to you and @jtwinsor for your leadership to our industry. 

jtwinsor
jtwinsor

@edwardboches Thanks for this. You've certainly been there from the beginning. Remember the Boston Ad Club talk? That started it.

DeJules
DeJules

this might get interesting....

hankleber
hankleber

@edwardboches Broken link on Havas V&S article

strawberrycough
strawberrycough

@michelrothschil I just think gang bangs do not make for the most creative work. end of story.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

 @benkunz Well put. Curious what John's response was.  I had the same experience totally. And my ideas were really good. However, I assume that with those who are a regular part of community, it's a bit better. Did you get a comment back?

jtwinsor
jtwinsor

@michaelgass Thanks, Michael.

michelrothschil
michelrothschil

@strawberrycough I'm with you not a lot of great things come out of gang bangs. Also I think it prays on our weakness: passion 4 good work

benkunz
benkunz

@edwardboches

Hey Edward,

We got your blog reply submission. Wanted you to know that. You don’t have to do anything else, except chill out knowing that we’ll review it as soon as we can. But feel free to keep more ideas coming. And thank you very much for putting some of your brain power to this task. We dig that you did that.

Sincerely, Kunz & Spoils

 

michaelgass
michaelgass

@jtwinsor everyone in the advertising industry should be thanking you. Your leaps beyond our "outside-the-box" thinking.

michaelgass
michaelgass

@jtwinsor everyone in the advertising industry should be thanking you. Your leaps beyond our "out-of-the-box" thinking.

jtwinsor
jtwinsor

@edwardboches We all are making it happen everyday. The little band of heretics that met on twitter are going to change the world.

hankleber
hankleber

@edwardboches Thx. Hell of a thing. Looks like I mighta shoulda stuck with AgencyNil. : /

strawberrycough
strawberrycough

@michelrothschil exactly. plus thousands of people work for free. no thanks.

jtwinsor
jtwinsor

@edwardboches No doubt. It's just like surfing. Lot's of folks sit looking at the waves. Few jump in, get worked and catch a ride.

edwardboches
edwardboches

@jtwinsor or have an awesome time trying. Never say never.

edwardboches
edwardboches

@hankleber check out mine and i'll check out yours, will send you beta invite

edwardboches
edwardboches

@hankleber I am doing some of same, working for @springpad, our big update comes next week: discovery, sharing, intelligent social notebooks

hankleber
hankleber

@edwardboches Thx for that! Major update coming in 2 weeks, then the real fun begins (brand partnerships, live music, events etc.)

edwardboches
edwardboches

@hankleber @GonnaBeApp Yes, just saw that, awesome, Shared with my entire class at Boston U #buscd

edwardboches
edwardboches

@hankleber It may be just money, but it was also ability to see what was coming.

edwardboches
edwardboches

@hankleber There will always be other chances to invent and create.

hankleber
hankleber

@edwardboches Investing in stock is just money. My big lesson (all my mentors advised me to shut Agency Nil down): Follow your gut, always.

edwardboches
edwardboches

@hankleber And I should have put my life savings into Apple stock when Steve Jobs returned.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Edward Boches, Chief Innovative Officer for Mullen, has been a supporter of John’s model and shares his perspecitve: “Until now, most ad agencies have been threatened by Victors & Spoils. They’re perceived to undermine the value of individual creatives, diminish the role and impact of the creative director who hires and guides them, and convey to clients that there might be a better idea outside the walls of the agency. [...]