Do I not like crowd sourcing

Talk about jumping on the band wagon some considerable time after it has packed up and left town, Peperami is the latest brand to indulge itself in a little spot of crowd sourcing to support their nibblers sub-brand under the thought that they are ‘a little bit of an animal’. And harmless fun this work is too. Devised by err, two advertising creatives through the Ideas Bounty website it is a mildy humourous retread of the classic Lintas work of the ‘90s.

But why, what on earth is the point of crowd sourcing? I just don’t fucking get it.

Firstly while I’m all for finding new and more fundamental ways for people to engage with brands, I’m not sure getting them to make ads is really what we all mean by engagement. While it offers deep engagement for those that can be arsed to do your job for you this approach requires so much effort it only ever touches a phenomenally small bunch of people (1,185 people submitted ideas in this case) and this type of engagement is restricted to the communications the brands makes and nothing more substantial.
Secondly this approach is surely best done with the fans and advocates of the brand and not through websites like ideas bounty which is simply a marriage broker for creatives and clients and not really about crowd sourcing at all.
Thirdly, what’s so cool about crowd sourcing anyway? It strikes me that clients that have no real strategy are being sold it as a ‘brave new idea’ in communications when its just a bit of PR puffery to mask the fact that no one has any genuinely new ideas about the brand themselves. Does anyone give a shit who writes an ad whether full service agency, creative independent or consumer as long as its brilliant and it works?
Fourthly, surely crowd sourcing should be about engaging the wisdom of the crowd to create something new and interesting but what we get here is a ‘90s Lintas ad that’s not quite as funny or interesting precisely because it’s a retread of old work and an old idea. ‘A bit of an animal’ was powerful for the brand when it was conceived because it broke the conventions of the category’s advertising and, along with Tango and Pot Noodle (both from my alma mater HHCL), rewrote the rules of advertising for a generation.
And that’s one of the frustrations at the heart of crowd sourced ideas of this nature, they can’t move the brand on because the crowd can’t see beyond the advertising vehicle for which famous brands are famous for.
You can see what I mean for yourself if you haven’t already seen the ad.

I don’t know about you but for my money crowd sourcing needs to be filed next to opening shops in second life as silly nonsense the industry momentarily got excite about but serves no real purpose. But then I would say that wouldn’t working for a dirty great full service agency as I do.
By the way if you are remotely interested the ad goes on air on Monday 23rd August. And if you aren’t here is a taste of genuinely innovative work from the brand in its hey day.

And yes I think that is the late and much missed John Peel.

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8 Replies to “Do I not like crowd sourcing”

  1. Totally agree with you.
    Consumers won’t care in the slightest who wrote the ad, especially when it looks like an ad that could have come out of any big shop.
    I can only guess that Unilever saved money taking this route rather than staying with Lowe.
    Peperami seem confused to what they have here.
    Matt Burgess, Peperami managing director, said: “Peperami is a brand which is bold enough to experiment with new ideas and advertising techniques in an increasingly consumer-driven world.
    A 30” TVC like thousands before it is not a new idea, not a new advertising technique nor is it consumer driven.
    It seems to me that although the benefits of crowdsourcing are questionable the real problem here is how Peperami framed the brief. Instead of asking people to write an ad, Peperami should have put forwards a more open challenge:
    We have £Xm to make more people buy Peperami. What should we do?
    The answers to that challenge may have been a lot more innovative, original and interesting than the TVC they have today.

  2. As you point out, this isn’t really crowd-sourcing at all. There doesn’t appear to be anything remotely collaborative in the process used to come up with this cold rehash.
    But it highlights a wider issue: Whether it’s bandwagon jumping or faulty logic, crowd-sourcing is being recommended to clients as a potential solution to ideas-creation.
    There is little doubt that crowd sourcing works in some situations. James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds documents several good examples.
    But I think the mistake the industry is making with crowd sourcing (aside from jumping on it because it was the subject of a mildly successful business/popluar science book a few years back, and is therefore a “new idea”) is to assume that because crowds are good at solving some problems, they can be applied to all problems.
    The oft-quoted example of the group of villagers who correctly guess the weight of an ox when the average of their predictions is calculated might seem magical, but the key word there is average.
    You can’t apply this quantitative technique to creativity–as an industry we neither want, nor need average ideas.

  3. This single ad alone will probably kill off Ideas Bounty as a business and crowd sourcing as a viable creative alternative. We should probably be thankful ;)

  4. Crikey – who says advertising doesnt work – I have just read the posts above and I now want to try some viagra! Sheesh who could have spotted that. (this of course wont work when Richard has removed them).

  5. Think there are some good points here, but perhaps worth bearing in mind that crowd sourcing doesn’t necessarily have to mean total abdication of creative or strategic control. Let the crowd offer or provoke ideas, but don’t use them just because they’re there.
    When you open up your fridge in the evening you don’t necessarily make a meal out of all the ingredients in it, or the nearest ingredients – you pick the things that work well together. This is the same, it’s just you’ve allowed a bunch of strangers to do your food shopping for you.
    Moreover, crowd sourcing should just be part of the process, rather than all of it, as James H says above.
    Agree on the ad though.

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