Monday, November 2, 2009

This headline was not crowd-sourced.


There are things that burst on the national political scene and dominate the "national debate" that are usually so trivial and unimportant but somehow they are picked up by the networks and they overwhelm things like wars and global warming.

We've had focus over the past few elections on such major issues as American-flag lapel pins, flag burning, french fries, haircuts, pants suits and shooting wolves from small aircraft. I would argue that none of these topics deserves any attention whatsoever. But I suppose because they have a certain accessibility they become symbols for larger issues.

The advertising trade press is currently all agog about the notion of crowd-sourcing. There's now a Crispin spin off that bases its entire offering on it. There are crowd-sourcing conferences and crowd-sourcing experts.

To my mind, our industry has almost always been infected by crowd sourcing. Focus groups, who likely approved the design of the Pontiac Aztec, above, seem to me to be an example. A bunch of people who individually know nothing when they're bunched together know more than people who have years of experience. Likewise, think of all the clients who ask their wives, or the janitor or show an ad around the office. This too, is crowd sourcing.

Fiddling with asinine topics like crowd sourcing amid the tectonic changes going on in our industry is like arguing about what kind of screen doors to put on a submarine.

6 comments:

Laura said...

And the sad thing about "crowd-sourcing" is that every speech, product or idea that is run by these crowds, looks like it was run down by these crowds.

Graham said...

Pontiac, if you remember, was featured on the first season of Survivor. The winner got a Pontiac Aztec.

I always joked that second place got two Pontiac Aztecs.

~Graham

littlejane said...

crowd-sourcing, focus groups, qual/quant = just add water.

Take a grand idea and add 99 parts water. Nothing grand ever happens when lazy people eating cheetos on the couch pocketing $20 for a focus group have a handle on it.

Imagine if they used that system with Einstein or Da Vinci - or did they try?

It keeps all those managers of managers of managers in a job.

James Sherrett said...

I think you're missing the point of the opportunity presented by 'crowdsourcing.' (Or perhaps the word has become so overused its meaning has been undermined.)

We started a company that connects creative people to buyers of creative services and assets. We call it the marketplace for ad creative -- http://adhack.com

In contrast to the assumptions of your post, what we've not found is an epidemic of design by committee, like the Pontiac Aztec, or a glut of crappy work.

Rather, we've found that we can connect creative people to gigs and clients, get them paid and get great work done for clients -- fast and pain free.

So while crowdsourcing does feel like the flavor of the month right now, I believe the novelty will pass and the value created will endure.

geo said...

James, agreed.

I am sure there are many merits to crowd sourcing. I am objecting to its deification--the answer to all marketing dilemmas and, as you pointed out, its flavor of the month-ness.

g

vinny warren said...

great post. so true. are we that shallow and easily distracted? apparently we are.