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Crowdsourcing comes of age

You might have noticed that everyone’s trying to save money. You’re no doubt doing it yourself. And having it done to you. So of course advertisers have been brutally slashing the fees they pay their ad agencies. And no, it’s not getting any better.

But taking a hit on your remuneration levels is one thing. Being written out of the equation altogether is something else. That’s what Unilever has done with its new advertising for Peperami: it’s written the ad agency out of the advertising equation altogether.

I’ve written about crowdsourcing here before, in the way you might write about the sun exploding: a complete disaster, end of life as we know it, but it’s not going to happen any time soon is it, so it’s a rather meaningless thing to worry about. Except that crowdsourcing has just become a rather meaningful thing to worry about. The crowdsourced Peperami ad has just launched, and it’s not as bad as we hoped.

The Peperami brief was posted online last year, inviting anyone to come up with an idea for the brand’s next commercial. Nearly 1,200 entered, but as it turns out the winning idea came from a couple of advertising freelancers, which is something of a relief for ad creatives. So it’s no surprise that it’s OK.

But the real reason it works is because the new ad uses the strategy and brand icon created by Peperami’s old ad agency Lowe. It’s building on years of fine advertising created by (at the time) a fine advertising agency. Not that hard for a professional crowd to come in and make a decent successor then.

But the real killer about crowdsourcing is that apparently it’s about 70% cheaper than going the agency route. That’s frightening. That really could be the beginning of the end of the advertising world as we know it. 70% cheaper is a deafening sum for advertisers, recession or not.

I reckon there’s good news here for production companies though. Crowdsourced ads still need great production, perhaps even more so than ads that come via agencies, and there’s an opportunity here for production companies to build more direct relationships with advertisers. Just be prepared to be squeezed on your costs.

Posted 06 September 2010 by Claire Beale
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