Is there still life in crowdsourcing?

Having gatecrashed adland’s party, crowdsourcing continues to defy agencies that would prefer it to leave before it downs too much of their food and drink.

Doritos is among the major brands that draw on a passionate labour pool. So much so that it has lined up film-makers from the UK, Australia, Canada and the US to compete in its annual contest to decide which two ads it will air at the Super Bowl – and who lands the $1 million prize.

Crowdsourcing’s advocates claim that public-generated marketing is no longer confined to high-profile events but is becoming a key element in the marketing mix. Many agencies, though, say crowdsourcing has the potential to damage brands. And it is true that crowdsourcing in the UK has yet to match its popularity in the US. Peperami did use crowdsourcing to create a TV spot last year, while VisitBritain worked with Genero to crowdsource original film content for a digital campaign.

But whether crowdsourcing specialists can convince enough advertisers that they are a safe option – and agencies that their lunch is safe – remains to be seen.

Creative head

Paul Brazier, chief creative officer and chairman, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

"As the creative director on our Doritos business, I believe crowdsourcing gives you more options. And the more options you have, the more surprising your advertising can be. Crowdsourcing isn’t right for every client and you have to ensure that what you’re doing is in tune with the brand. You can’t just delegate responsibility and it’s up to agencies to set the ground rules. Yet there are lots of people, whether at art colleges or film schools, who come up with ideas but don’t necessarily get the opportunity to realise them. They need our help."

Crowdsourcing specialist

Maya Bogle, co-founder, Talenthouse

"Not only is crowdsourcing here to stay but it’s only just getting started. That’s because clients are facing enormous problems in getting content on a scale that their creative agencies can provide. Of course you still need the big lead creative agency, but the days are gone when you could screen a TV commercial during primetime on Saturday and have it seen by 80 per cent of viewers. Today, no single agency can produce the content Procter & Gamble needs across all its communication channels. Yet by allowing film-makers, artists and designers to play with your creative ideas, you’re going to end up with a wide range of solutions."

Crowdsourcing specialist

Darren Khan, managing director, Genero

"It’s true that crowdsourcing has been embraced more in the US than in Britain, but that’s mainly because the US is so segmented and there is a need to communicate with so many different kinds of people. Also, a lot of innovation coming out of Silicon Valley is helping brands communicate more effectively. Nevertheless, the feeling here is that crowdsourcing is moving up the agendas of agencies and clients. That’s because there are now so many media channels that one size no longer fits all. We want to enhance the fantastic job creative agencies do, not take anything away from them."

Creative head

Mark Roalfe, chairman and creative director, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

"Crowdsourcing is here to stay but a more important question is how you use it. It probably works best as a way of creating PR around an event. You can’t really build a brand around it. Agencies have contradictory attitudes towards crowdsourcing. They are happy when they come up with a creative idea using crowdsourcing but are less than happy when a client does so. Our clients aren’t particularly interested in crowdsourcing at the moment and I don’t see a time when crowdsourcing will form a key part of a brief. However, brands will increasingly draw on customer experience."