Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I don't necessarily agree with this image

And you're going to have to whip out your smart phone and aim it at the screen if you want to know what that is.

Pain in the ass, right?

So here's what I think about QR codes.

I think QR codes are very useful and very good for certain applications. Very cool idea. Outdoor, transit, temporary tattoos, t-shirts, bar coasters, etc and etc. Airport signs at the baggage claim. On a bag that lives on the baggage carousel. Painted on cabs. On pedicabs. Hell, paint them on cows in a field. Put 'em on small children at the beach. In grocery stores for an instant coupon. On grocery carts. Real estate signs are a great use - someone can get more information immediately about a house they just drove or walked past. Anywhere someone can take advantage of the ease of aiming their phone-camera at a code more easily or more in a better time frame than anything else. And on and on.

We all know I'm an idiot, but I'm not some kind of luddite who uses a manual typewriter and just hates all that gol-danged crazy new-fangled stuff those crazy kids like. But just because something does a cool thing isn't a good enough reason to use it everywhere. For example, put a QR code in a magazine and on a business card and in order to make any use of it, one has to put down the magazine or card, get their phone, aim it at the code and then look at the screen on their phone. As opposed to, I don't know, going to their computer and just typing in an URL?

Never mind the fact that not EVERYBODY on earth has a smart phone - or wants one - it just seems like a case of doing something for the same reason a dog . . . never mind, bad joke. But the punch line is "because he can".

(Added - Since this originally went up, I have been advised to delete the part about not everybody having or wanting a smart phone for fear it is too curmudgeonly. The jury will therefore disregard that part. The crabby old guy who wrote this is not a curmudgeon and does not want to appear to be one.)

I don't have a prejudice against QR codes. But I'm not a big fan of using the latest gimmick just to be using the latest gimmick, either.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is crowdsourcing evil?

Probably not in and of itself, no. But the way some "creative" companies use it to, I believe, take advantage of creative folk, is.

But that's just me.

I'm talking here about those groups who offer clients a "new wave creative choice! Exceptional creative content through a revolutionary model. Quickly. Under budget."

It sure smells like spec work to me. They may claim a thoroughly "vetted" creative community and all that, but the fact remains that the basic premise is that a variety of individuals or teams compete for the work. The middleman works with the client to prepare a creative brief and then they farm it out to this vetted community to submit their ideas. The selected work moves forward and the losers are "compensated" and retain ownership of their work. So I guess it's not a total rip-off.

But to me, everything that is wrong with spec work is wrong with this model. For one thing, as much as anybody can deny it's a contest, it's a contest. And I'll eat my hat if the "compensation" the losers get covers the effort they put into it. That's just the reality of a competition. And everybody knows it.

For another, there is almost no way any creative team can know enough about the client and his or her product, service, culture, competition, competitive environment or brand position to do a proper job. That's why people pay agencies to do that sort of thing. The more you know about the client, the higher your chances of success. And a good creative team is going to ask questions and see things the client - and their middleman - won't.

And having the middleman and client prepare the brief to send to the competitors? Well, I don't know about your agency, but at Nasuti + Hinkle, the creative folk are involved in the developing the brief. Personally, I can't see how it could work any other way.

I think there are some very cool applications for crowdsourcing. Things like Wikipedia and such. I'm not so much the fool that I can't see any use in change or innovation.

What I object to - and as a creative, I object to it a lot - is what I see as taking unfair advantage of the talents and skills of creative people and short-sheeting a client at the same time.

Of course, on that second point, my friend John Corey used to say that ultimately "a client gets the agency it deserves."