advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Unilever crowdsourcing hooplamania!

No, it’s okay. They did the Dove campaign for Real Beauty, so you automatically have to give them slack for a few years. (It’s in the rules.) Read all about the Unilever crowdsource fun here at Ad Age—then come back here for the inciteful snark and metaphors. Inciteful I say.

And the one comment that inspires the cite is from none other than Unilever itself regarding agency Lowe:

“They’ve created a strong creative vehicle that’s extremely well-defined and very portable. But their great work has created a problem for them, because it makes Peperami the obvious candidate for crowdsourcing.

Really? Based on that logic, all brands should be open to crowdsourcing because they’re things agencies know how to encapsulate into a nice :30 with a memorable tagline that connect with consumers.

Look, I understand crowdsourcing and how some people want to view this time in advertising the same way new systems replace old: Car > horse (it’s what we discussed on this week’s podcast).

Problem is, while backyard bike videos with kids jumping through shit on fire may get views, Joe the Videographer will not consistently come up with special “moments” or connections between consumers and brands. Not because they can’t, but because they haven’t to this point.

Casting a wider net hasn’t made things better, it’s just found more of the same that’s already out there. Show me where viewers always equal consumers and vice-versa.

Yet brands are buying into the notion that they do. For their part, agencies are more than willing to get creative with metrics and show how one video was viewed a million times cross someone’s extended social network.

When brands buy into the views = brand success equation, then they’ve also undermined another key part of the arguement. It’s the idea that providing consumers something real, something of value, matters more.

While I might consider humor or time spent with a brand something valuable, others may not, and that’s fine. Some people may need to look to something else like, discounts on Twitter, or a website that lets them order more efficiently, or a Nike site just for runners, etc.

If that’s the case, then how does a stunt video on YouTube help accomplish that or provide meaningful value beyond me spending more time with a brand—that I may never engage with otherwise?

Yeah. Exactly.

While half of the branding equation has to do with how consumers actually experience a brand, they still need the spark of a brand theme to connect the dots. Agencies and creatives provide that. I’m not saying people need to be told how to think about a brand because they’re too dumb, far from it.

I guess what I’m really saying is name the consumers who came up with:

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Where’s the beef?

Just do it.

Tastes great, less filling.

Yeah. Exactly.

I’d rather give an account guy a shot at writing the lines before Joe the Plumber.

Now that I’ve skewered the public though, name one agency that’s produced truly viral work without the help of someone seeding it for them. Of the 99 things on the internet you should see, how many were created by agencies?

Yeah, exactly.

What you have now though are global brands disrupting the agency-client model not because it will suddenly provide better creative, but because they want the creative cheaper and more representative of the masses it sells to. I don’t think brands have thought through the former, but they’ve sure embraced the latter.

Rightly or wrongly, it’s a buyer’s market for brands because they call the shots.

It’s also bad enough that brands have 50 “partners” on every project, but crowdsurcing is another a way for brands to interfere in the creative process even more than ever.

Hate to use Joe as a reference again, but it’s like you asking an electrician to come help out the plumber you called to fix a leak in your house, just because he “kinda” knows about pipes too. Now, you might not have a clue how fix it yourself, but hey, you’re in charge and that’s all that counts, so hire who you want, right?

In what other industry does this happen?

No way 20 or even 10 years ago brands would’ve ever thought of making moves like this. Save for a consumer sweepstakes where the closest a consumer got to touching the brand was an entry form on a case card. That was the equivalent of holding the wheel as a kid while daddy drove.

Now, the entire world gets to drive, because the brand sees not just agency creatives bidding on their work, but all y’all, and if that’s not a recipe for disruption, what is?

So what does a creative do if they actually got to create a winning spot in some contest? Forgot conflicts with the agency they work for. They’ll do the same thing they always have: Walk with the business and start their own agency.

To begin the cycle anew...


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