Ad agency or crowdsourcing interpreter?

New models of advertising are being experimented with. And agencies will be happy they have a role to play. When Harley Davidson ended ties with their agency of record – Carmichael Lynch, an agency that jumped into the fray was Victor & Spoils with a ‘creative team’ of over 3900 from across the world. They offered $5000 to their captive creative network and came up with hundreds of ideas that they shortlisted and presented to Harley. The winning idea –  picked out from the crowd,  is the one that will power Harley’s 2011 campaign.

It disrupts the fundamental way in which agencies function. The ideas aren’t limited to the ones that can be generated in-house. By figuring out a way to expand creative breadth without increasing costs exponentially, Victor & Spoils have ensured a constant stream of ideas. The problem with direct crowdsourcing was that it generated a lot of gibberish from those who had no knowledge or the inclination to figure out what the brand was about. While millions of hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day, 99% is unwatchable. Exactly like the thousands of unreadable blogs and tweets that dot the blogosphere and twit streams. Trawling through this maze for some obscure gems is a virtual impossibility. The agency acting as curator ensures the client’s strategic and tonal requirements are met – and without that filter, all the ideas generated through crowdsourcing are worthless.

But the basic problem remains – will the idea work? That remains a judgemental call. And once it is released into the media stream, there are no guarantees. Clients need trusted partners to keep their brand on course. And keep an eagle eye on costs. As consumers hop, skip and jump across their areas of interest, they are more elusive. Their connections and loyalties with brands are tenuous, just like their social and professional relationships. It’s interesting, if tumultuous times ahead for both agencies and clients