Crowd-sourcing Your Creative

Remember how people submitted their own Doritos’ commercials for use during the Super Bowl? That same concept is being adopted by a variety of companies these days. It’s called crowd-sourcing, where instead of asking just one agency to develop creative ideas, a client asks dozens (or hundreds!) of people to chime in. Here’s a quick overview so you can see if it’s for you.

In crowd-sourcing, volume is king. If you post a request for creative ideas on social media, you’ll likely get more responses than you know what to do with. There are bound to be a couple great ideas in the mix…and an awful lot of mediocre ones.

Although, crowd-sourcing can be an affordable way to develop creative, there’s also a high cost of time to review all those submissions mentioned above! Places like are experimenting with a pricing strategy that puts a price-tag on the idea itself, separate from the execution.

Voice of the Customer
Since ideas come directly from your customers (or other target audiences), you’ll get a clear understanding of what they think about your product or service, how they’d make it better and the key messages that stand out to them. The tricky thing about crowd-sourcing, though, is that it relies heavily on having a large, already-engaged audience ready to tap into. Smaller companies are often at a disadvantage.

This is the flip side to Voice of the Customer. While it’s important to keep that customer voice visible, it’s also important that any creative ideas tie back to your company’s overall strategy. Crowd-sourced ideas typically don’t make that connection, because the folks submitting ideas don’t have your strategic information at their fingertips.

By its nature, crowd-sourcing means giving up control. There’s a chance you’ll hit on the next brilliant idea…or there’s a chance you won’t find anything at all you want to use. Plus, just because YOU decide not to use certain submissions, doesn’t prevent the people who submitted them from using them on their own anyway. With platforms like YouTube, it’s relatively easy to post messages about your company that you may not be entirely comfortable with.

Sometimes, crowd-sourcing experiments ask people to submit their own fully-developed videos, ads or posters (as opposed to just ideas). That can work well if it’s a fairly simple task. However, the attention to detail and quality of the final product is usually better from an agency or studio that has the proper equipment and budget to get it done.


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