If you pay peanuts…

Peperami have fired their creative agency Lowe and decided to post their creative brief on a new crowdsourcing website, ideabounty.com with a $10,000 prize for the best idea. They seem pretty delighted at the prospect of saving all that money on fees. And instead of getting the resource of only two or three account people, they will now benefit from the minds of thousands.

Many of us have encountered a client whether on the creative or media side, who decide that they are paying that flashy agency far too much money and surely they could do it better themselves inhouse. They’ll save a bundle – it’s a no brainer.

Some companies do this very successfully – Innocent is a great example. But Innocent is also a rare example. It is a company which was founded by ex-advertising employees who developed a product with inbuilt marketing from the start. Most companies who choose to go it alone, do an awful job.

There is a reason professionals are professionals, and a reason they cost money. Yes “good ideas can come from anyone” – that doesn’t mean they are equally likely to come from anyone. In practice, good ideas are much more likely to be thought up by people who have dedicated their working lives to developing strategic skills, gaining practical experience and actively immersing themselves in creative stimuli.

David Ogilvy absolutely believed in the necessity of craft. “I asked an indifferent copywriter what books he had read about advertising. He told me that he had not read any; he preferred to rely on his own intuition. ‘Suppose,’ I asked, ‘your gall-bladder has to be removed this evening. Will you choose a surgeon who has read some books on anatomy and knows where to find your gall-bladder, or a surgeon who relies on his intuition?’”

In reality, ideasbounty is just another creative agency – with cheap labour. What you are hiring are graduate creatives or amateur creatives. I have no doubt that some of them will come up with excellent ideas for Peperami. However in the longterm, if this crowdsourcing approach takes off,  the prizes will need to be come bigger and bigger, to attract the best talent.  Because ultimately, you get what you pay for.

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