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."

1 comment:

Eve Russell said...

Does that graphic illustrate a crowd flipping the bird?