advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crowdsourcing. Mmm. Get you some!

May the source be... *nyuck, nyuck*

Denver Egotist emailed about the Brammo and BBH crowdsourced logos. In addition, I saw a few reactions on Twitter, not just about that but the concept in general.

While you can pretty much crowdsource anything, I have a few thoughts about it relative to design and advertising, pro and con.

A few reactions say crowdsourcing is “changing” social media and client-agency relationships. Yes, but that’s just a characteristic of what it does. You need to address two deeper issues at work that people have a problem with.

I’m not here to come down on any particular shops either, but the first thing people seem to be taking issue with is the perception that any agency would have to go outside to do its own design work.

Yes, agencies partner with outside shops on work all the time, from programming to TV to whatever, and so this is just an extension of that. For the most part though, agencies are viewed as being able to handle anything internally, especially design work of this nature, that’s why they got the gig in the first place.

Second, and more importantly to the bigger discussion the industry needs to have, and what seems to spur the most rage I’ve seen, goes right to the core of what this business is about.

Specifically, the value of what we do.

From a creative/agency point of view, it’s something you fight to get respect over constantly. From the client’s v , they tend to view creatives and the work they produce as just another line item in the Excel file.

Design as commodity, and so what’s the cheapest I can get this for, right?

Not all brands of course, but a lot. The ones who really understand the value of the work and who pay accordingly seem fewer and farther between though.

For those who don’t get it, crowdsourcing fans those flames because we see the work we do as more than just a thing to throw a price tag on. Which, it is, and it isn’t.

The good that might come from multiple people addressing a problem is fine in theory—if they’re all on the same team.

But brands aren’t using it that way. They aim to get work for the lowest price. This is done by pitting many people out there each with their own agendas against each other. They don’t always have the client’s best interest at heart either.

That goes against the spirit of collaboration inherent in the implied definition of crowdsourcing.

There’s also a difference between being compensated for work that makes a difference for a client who appreciates it and an attitude by others that’s no better than “Gimmee four logos, two ads and throw in a Facebook page while you’re at it.”

Then there’s always the issue of client ignorance to deal with regarding the actual craft involved. They wouldn’t second-guess the plumber that shows up to fix a leak in their house, but when it comes to their logo, all of a sudden they’re Paul Rand.

(I say logo, but, it could be any creative element really. Not to raise too many other issues, but this debate goes hand in hand with the idea of spec work, of which there’s a lengthy but great discussion on by Eric at Smashlab.)

Here’s where I see crowdsourcing possibly making a difference.

While having every dude with a webcam make your Super Bowl spot will “probably” not result in the best ad, crowdsourcing in theory should allow everyone at any agency a fair shot at doing work for a major brand.

You hear agencies and the industry all the time talk about how an idea can come from anywhere. It’s bullshit of course because the last thing a creative director wants is knowing that the agency receptionist just came up with an idea for a spot, let alone a dude in his mom’s basement somewhere in Indiana.

If crowdsourcing hopes to contribute positive change to the industry, it can start by not just grabbing inspiration from the cheapest solutions out there, but the best, and paying them accordingly.

I doubt the social media crowd championing competitive rates for logos this way would cut their rate when dealing with a major brand.

As for Brammo? What I would do is this: Rewrite the contest like you’d rewrite a bad brief. They want a logo? Cool. They love crowdsourcing? Cool. Here’s another concept the design community has used forever when they do a project out of “love.”

It’s a little thing we like to call taking it out in trade, but instead, Imma put my spin on it:

Welcome to Tradesourcing.

I’ll do a logo in exchange for one of those sweet rides.

Now, up to this point, I avoided addressing the specific contest in question. But paying a fee in the form of a $5K bike will be worth far more to me than the $1,000 being offered, especially after reading that creative brief. (While a brand says “The above is just thought starters though...,” trust me, they better see what they asked for “above.”)

In return, they’ll get a killer logo as well as someone who will represent the brand to boot. I get more than the $1,000 offered for putting up with the inevitable headaches the brief hints at (headaches which will see that $1K evaporate well before the 12th round of revisions). What’s more fare than that?

But maybe we should ask the people what they think first?

(Image via.)

1 comment:

BIG Kahuna said...

Crowdsourcing sucks and they stink. Anyone looking for a Crowdsourcing logo has no idea of what really goes in a logo, it's way more than a pretty picture.

Anyone doing spec work is a hack. We get RFP's all the time with spec work in them and I deep six them immediately.

Have some respect for yourself and your work. But what do I know, I've only been at it for 21 years.