Claire Beale On Advertising: Unilever is turning to a crowd of bounty hunters

Well, sorry. User-generated advertising is only over because it’s been reborn
and rebranded as something altogether more significant and ? if you work in
advertising ? something altogether more pernicious: crowd-sourcing. You can
probably tell from this fashionable new name (less functional, more
conceptual) that crowdsourcing has become the latest thing, darling, in
advertising and marketing circles.

And this time it’s serious. Instead of a bit of playful dabbling ? which is
really what so many marketers did with UGA ? advertisers are starting to
embed crowdsourcing into the DNA of their communications processes. I don’t
say that with the usual hyperbole of a columnist struggling for something to
write about. Take Unilever. Back in the summer the global household goods
company (Persil, Dove, PG Tips etc) ? one of the world’s biggest advertisers
? decided to ditch Lowe, the advertising agency on one of its brands,
altogether in favour of a full-blown crowdsourcing approach.

So the Peperami account says bye-bye to Lowe and hello to Idea Bounty. Idea
Bounty describes itself as, “the simplest way to hire thousands of
creatives and only pay for the ideas you want”. It’s crowdsourcing in
its essence: advertisers post a brief, and anyone ? you, me, freelance
writers, illustrators, art directors, film-makers, students ? can submit an
idea. If your creative idea is chosen, you get paid a bounty. The Peperami
brief was to “crack the new Peperami print and TV ad” and the
bounty is $10,000. The winning idea will be unveiled next week. Meanwhile
Unilever is looking at extending the crowd-sourcing approach to some of its
other brands.

Just to prove there’s a trend emerging here, a similar crowdsourcing website
has also just launched, Talenthouse.com. This time it’s not just big brands
that are looking for fresh creative ideas but musicians, fashion designers,
artists, film-makers. Again, the philosophy is that the best creative ideas
can come from anywhere, and who needs all the expensive infrastructure of a
traditional creative company when you can just pay per idea.

Also last week a couple of defectors from one of the world’s best advertising
agencies ? Crispin Porter Bogusky ? launched a crowdsourcing agency called
Victors and Spoils that offers insight and advice but without all the
expensive creatives in trainers and T-shirts. All creative briefs will be
thrown into the crowdsourcing ether.

Now if I was an advertising agency, I might be feeling a little uncomfortable
at this point. Victors and Spoils, Idea Bounty and Talenthouse are all owned
and run by experienced creatives and marketers more than capable of offering
brands advice on the right sort of crowdsourced creative approach to choose,
and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional ad agency relationship. Ad
agencies take note: these companies are sniffing your lunch; look the other
way and they’ll be eating it in no time.

Crucially, unlike the old, so often embarrassing user-generated advertising
model, crowdsourcing has the potential to offer brands access to a more
professional and global creative resource. Because, if UGA was really about
finding new ways to engage ordinary punters with a brand, crowd sourcing is
more about leveraging brilliant creative ideas from anywhere and everywhere,
often from freelance or time-rich professionals.

All of which is good news for us ad consumers too because it will hopefully
spell the end of all those homemade ads created by untalented punters. Who
knows, there might even be some bounty in it for you.

Best in Show: Department of Health (DDB)

This week perhaps one of the most disgusting ads on TV: the Department of
Health’s new television commercial on swine flu. With the virus back in the
head-lines it’s time for us all to start thinking about how to deal with it.
And that means containment. What the new campaign by DDB does brilliantly
and not a little stomach-churningly, is illustrate (by use of a sort of vile
green slime) how the swine flu germs are spread.

The image of a young boy slowly sucking his green, germ-riddle thumb is
guaranteed to have you reaching for the anti-bacterial hand gel. And it’s a
powerful argument for the role of advertising.

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