Creative Crowdsourcing from Creative Communities

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Creativepool's Creative Solutions Director, Heather Deacon, led a session at Advertising Week Europe last month to discuss the what, why, how, and when of sourcing creative from professional communities via crowdsourcing platforms and open ideation initiatives. 

For the full presentation, see here, otherwise we've put together a handy summary below. 


As advertising becomes more transparent and the thirst for impactful and shareable content becomes ever stronger, advertisers (agency staff and brand marketers alike) should be looking beyond their traditional means to time and cost effectively source quality ideas, design and video. One way of doing this, that is becoming more and more popular, is creative crowdsourcing..

What is creative crowdsourcing?

Creative crowdsourcing is briefing a crowd in order to source creative concepts, design, video and content, usually via a competitive structure, either with an open call or an invite-only/closed brief. 

The crowd we're talking about in this instance is PROFESSIONAL creative communities, those who are experienced, working in the advertising/marketing industry and tackle creative briefs day to day.

Why is PROFESSIONAL communities so important to define?

If you don't use professional creative communities, you're going to create more work, spend more money and risk ending up with work you cannot use. 

For example... with video crowdsourcing:


Dorito's ran a Crash the Superbowl competition for 10 years, concluding last year. Consumers (specifically, non-professionals) were invited to create their own Doritos ads and, each year, at least one fan-made commercial was guaranteed to air during the Super Bowl. 

For their last competition, they gave away a $1,000,000 to the winning filmmaker, which they chose from 4,500 submissions, most of probably didn't adhere to advertising guidelines let alone brand guidelines. 

CMO Ram Krishnan said, "It's not a one-and-done deal on the game day, It's basically this five-to six-month engagement program that we had with the consumer."

This is not a time or cost-effective way of sourcing video for a campaign, it was their campaign. It was certainly innovative and ground-breaking but this is not the type of creative crowdsourcing we're discussing.

We're talking about creative crowdsourcing from a professional community that is used as an effective route to content. 

Another example of the importance of tapping into PROFESSIONAL communities is this open ideation disaster from the UK National Environment Research Council.

As you can see, asking the great British public for their ideas for what to name a new Polar Research vessel, wasn't the best idea. The names were also put to public vote, so Boaty McBoatface was the most popular by a landslide.

Again, this was an innovative and great accidental (or not) marketing campaign but again, not an EFFECTIVE route to ideas.

So, choose professional communities and combine this with a good team of talented, professional creative marketers looking after those creatives, brief and the brand.

Why crowdsource your creative at all?

For five reasons.

1. To Diversify Your Creativity

Putting all your eggs and cash in one basket - a basket full of talent that has been drinking your brand kool-aid - can mean that brand drunk disasters (a la Pepsi) are far more likely. With creative crowdsourcing, you tap into fresh perspectives from professionals who see your brand from outside (like consumers), who will only respond if so inspired, who are unafraid of disagreeing with their ECD, and who will submit ideas that fit the brief and solve the problem.

That last one might seem obvious, but most agencies will admit, when they work with a client for a while they get very good at creating concepts and work that their client's will LIKE rather than what they need.

With creative crowdsourcing, you also open yourself to the beauty of choice. If you give one brief to a hundred professional creatives, you're going to have a hundred completely different responses, all on brand and on brief. You are flipping the norm on its head and putting one person between you and hundreds of creative minds, rather than 20 agency staff between you and that single creative. 

2. It's Cost-effective

Not paying for those 20 agency staffers (and brief filters) can save marketers a lot of money. By engaging the right crowd with a clearly defined brief and reward, you are eliminating the overhead costs of the traditional routes that only ever increase, year on year.

Agencies should (and some do) use creative crowdsourcing too, to keep their margins and content output high.

3. For Genuine Innovation

It’s very difficult to innovate and be surprised with your usual routes when you want to experiment with a new creative source or media outlet. New tools and innovations are available every-day, why not ask the creatives that are already using them, or are hungry to get to grips with them and add that medium to their portfolio.

4. To Meet Demands for Video Content

Video content is still king and now you need more and more of it to fill the channels your consumers log into every day.

With organic user-generated video increasingly proving itself as the most engaging content on the internet, it goes to prove that a filmmaker does not need a big budget - as nice as they are - to create a film that resonates with your consumers.

Creative crowdsourcing is becoming a big part of video advertising with brands AND agencies tapping into the filmmaking crowd to meet their video content needs. For the past two years, Snickers has tapped into crowdsourcing to keep their channels full of “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” humour that continues to resonate with their audience after 7 years and BBDO recently launched their own video crowdsourcing platform to use for their Mars account.

5. To Build Brand Affinity

By tapping into thousands - or in Creativepool's case, over a quarter of a million - of creatives, you are engaging thousands of new brand ambassadors and potential consumers/fans.

With transparency continuously being championed as the key to true engagement, an honest and open creative crowdsourcing brief can easily be crafted into a well rounded digital marketing campaign, especially if those creatives are your target audience. These creatives are delving into your brand and ethos in a unique way - this is engagement you can’t get anywhere else.

"You build on your ROI before the media spend is signed off and the journey to creativity becomes as important as the results. Quite the game changer."

Now let's look into the HOW.

How can you effectively crowdsource your creative?

Most creative communities with a crowdsourcing facility will provide a producer-type consultancy to curate your project, build an inspiring and informative brief and ensure the creative's deliver work that is on brand and on brief. They become an extension of your brand and will work to ensure you have a wealth of work to choose from at the end of the process and do the due diligence on submissions. They are the key to saving you time and money on the route to quality ideas and content.

Here are a couple of tips on how to get the most out of your project:

1. “Give me the freedom of a tightly written creative brief.” David Ogilvy

Give your professional creative crowd the parameters they need - from specifications to the audience to distribution to mandatories to no-gos - to create work that you can actually use and serves the purpose. Don't waste yours and their time with vagueness. This is a professional crowd, treat them as such and... 

...give them a box to think outside of.

2. Don’t Skimp on the Incentive

Just as agencies will usually choose briefs for Fame, Fortune or Fun, make sure your creative crowdsourcing briefs meet at least two of these three criteria.

These incentives appeal to creatives at any stage of their career, especially if they're stuck in a rut or looking to expand their portfolio. One of the winning ideas for a recent brief Creativepool ran for Amnesty International came from a senior creative at Leo Burnett.

Creatives submit because - even if the brand or agency weren’t to choose their ideation, design, or video - they still have a great example of what they can do and how they approach real challenges from real brands.

So make sure your brand is a killer one for the portfolio, your brief inspires, and/or your prize is overtly tempting. Two out of three is key to successful creative crowdsourcing.

When should you use Professional Creative Crowdsourcing?

When you need to think outside your brand or agency bubble.

When you desire design that has thought outside the box

When you require impactful video to keep your brand relevant on multiple channels.


Contact Heather directly on [email protected] 


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