If you pay peanuts…

August 28, 2009

 ideas bounty only

Peperami have fired their creative agency Lowe and decided to post their creative brief on a new crowdsourcing website, ideabounty.com with a $10,000 prize for the best idea. They seem pretty delighted at the prospect of saving all that money on fees. And instead of getting the resource of only two or three account people, they will now benefit from the minds of thousands.

Many of us have encountered a client whether on the creative or media side, who decide that they are paying that flashy agency far too much money and surely they could do it better themselves inhouse. They’ll save a bundle – it’s a no brainer.

Some companies do this very successfully – Innocent is a great example. But Innocent is also a rare example. It is a company which was founded by ex-advertising employees who developed a product with inbuilt marketing from the start. Most companies who choose to go it alone, do an awful job.

There is a reason professionals are professionals, and a reason they cost money. Yes “good ideas can come from anyone” – that doesn’t mean they are equally likely to come from anyone. In practice, good ideas are much more likely to be thought up by people who have dedicated their working lives to developing strategic skills, gaining practical experience and actively immersing themselves in creative stimuli.

David Ogilvy absolutely believed in the necessity of craft. “I asked an indifferent copywriter what books he had read about advertising. He told me that he had not read any; he preferred to rely on his own intuition. ‘Suppose,’ I asked, ‘your gall-bladder has to be removed this evening. Will you choose a surgeon who has read some books on anatomy and knows where to find your gall-bladder, or a surgeon who relies on his intuition?’”

In reality, ideasbounty is just another creative agency – with cheap labour. What you are hiring are graduate creatives or amateur creatives. I have no doubt that some of them will come up with excellent ideas for Peperami. However in the longterm, if this crowdsourcing approach takes off,  the prizes will need to be come bigger and bigger, to attract the best talent.  Because ultimately, you get what you pay for.



3 Responses to “If you pay peanuts…”

  1. Nic said

    Hey Neasa

    Thanks for writing a well balanced post about Idea Bounty and the latest brief from Unilever / Peperami. I absolutely agree with the general principle that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. However, I would like to suggest that $10 000 for an idea is certainly not ‘peanuts’ and that the vast majority of creatives who partipate on IdeaBounty are professionals working in the advertising and marketing industry. In fact, the majority of our past winners have been seasoned pro’s – from senior planners at DDB Paris to small creative hot shops who enter as an agency.



    • theinfluentials said

      Hi Nic,

      Thanks very much for commenting. Firstly I’d like to compliment IdeaBounty on an intriguing new business idea – it’s definitely a model I’ll be following with interest. I take your point that $10,000 isn’t peanuts for an individual who receives it. To an agency, it might not be enough to cover the expenses of working on a brief.

      The key point I was trying to make is that clients will benefit more from hiring professional talent and the top talent will always need to be paid appropriately. There’s no cheap way around it, if you want to get the best work.

      I think the fact that most of your winners have been professional creatives working in creative agencies, suggests that these environments are still offering the best talent and the best work.

      I also think that as a long term option, clients might miss out on the wider strategic direction a fulltime and dedicated agency team can deliver.

      However, I am open to debate and to being proved wrong! I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labour.


  2. […] the word “crowdsourcing” seemed to strike a nerve with Jimmy. (This is also a concept we’ve debated before here on The Influentials). He immediately took issue with the term which he said stemmed from […]

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