Oi! Crowdsource my tiny Peperami. And step on it!

What might the increasing spread of Wikiculture mean for the future of advertising?

Crowdsourcing is the way of the future. One day we’ll use it to build spaceships (geeks will design them without realising it, convinced that they’re playing a brilliant spaceship design simulator, obviously) but, in the meantime, we’ll have to content ourselves with using it for advertising.

Crowdsourcing the creative process is not to be confused with offering the public a chance to ‘participate’ in a campaign, nor is it the same as pinching an idea off YouTube and then re-tooling it to suit your brand. The important thing is where you apply the collective intelligence. Apply it at the ‘scamp’ stage and then hand it over for professional production and you end up with something that looks just like a normal ad.

Something to be smug about
The new Peperami TV spot is a case in point. Looking at it no one would ever know that the concept was one of hundreds submitted to a company called Idea Bounty. It went like this: Idea Bounty posted the brief online for anyone to answer. Once the entries were in, the client selected his favourite. The winning creatives got a lump sum (about £6,000) and the ad was passed to BPL for production.

This technique was a good fit for Peperami because they’ve already got a brand property, the Adrian Edmondson-voiced, wriggly meat-stick they call Animal, so all they needed was a script for their new line. Peperami’s brand manager claims they saved 60–70% on the cost of using a traditional agency.

If this catches on, and if it gives brand managers something to be smug about it certainly will, there could be some big changes just around the corner.
Let us imagine, for a moment, a future in which there are no more advertising agencies, only companies like Idea Bounty, clients and production houses.

Firstly, we’d finally rumble those people who were just along for the ride. If you only made money when you sold an ad, being an advertising creative wouldn’t be a job that you ‘had’, but something that you’d ‘do’, perhaps between waitering jobs, like an actor. And, as in acting, those people that were good at it would become very rich, and those that weren’t would have to leave.

There’s still hope for us
It would almost be worth it because all planners would lose their jobs immediately. After all, when you’ve got 7,000 people thinking about a brief, why not have them do the strategy while they’re at it?

And who’s that sitting in the creative director’s wheelie chair? Oh look, it’s the client. Now this would be both good and bad because obviously once they’d got your idea they could stamp all over it (no change there then) but also when it all went wrong they’d only have themselves to blame.

There’s hope for us at least: the winners of the Peperami brief were both veteran ad creatives. We’re still much better at this than the general public. But I reckon this will only last as long as there are 700 submissions rather 70,000. Time to get to work on that spaceship.

‘Gordon Comstock’ is a copywriter

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