Analysis & Opinion

Crowdsourcing the crowd at the crowdsourcing event

August 6, 2009 David Swaebe

Winsor and Boches @ AdClub crowdsourcing event

There was a heady and at times esoteric forum on “crowdsourcing” yesterday put on by the AdClub. John Winsor from Crispin Porter Bogusky was the featured guest interviewed by Edward Boches from Mullen. The event drew a sizable and diverse crowd from the client, consultant and agency world, everyone looking to understand and harness this tidal wave of social media that is re-defining communication and creativity. Personally, what struck me is that the two guys on stage came from writing and journalism backgrounds and have migrated into and through the ad agency world to their new focus on social media. Winsor has been quite savvy in recognizing on-coming change in the publishing world and managed to capitalize rather than being destroyed. He’s a true chameleon.

In the spirit of the event I crowdsourced the attendees, asking several of my colleagues to weigh-in with observations on the dialogue:

Alex Leikikh – managing partner, mullen
“I found it ironic that the two oldest guys in the place were on stage. Also, we need more practical application thinking it seems around crowdsourcing…where should clients with significant budgets start?”

Kalley Thomas – pr/social influence acct. director, mullen
“The discussion regarding the level of feedback companies should feel obligated to provide to contributors was interesting.  I understand that people are looking to participate and whether their idea triumphs or not, it’s always good to know how you did. However, from an agency and client time perspective, it’s not always possible to provide in-depth feedback to everyone (imagine reviewing 1500 logos and critiquing each). It’s important to clearly set expectations with contributors about what they can anticipate out of the exercise – and then stick to it.”

Michael Bourne – vp, pr/social influence, mullen
“The creative ability of crowds is both a threat and an opportunity for people in creative fields, who must up their game to remain competitive with outliers. The ability to uncover talent that is otherwise hidden outside a company’s walls is unprecedented. Only those who can tap this creativity for the greater good will be the true ‘Crowd Sorcerers.’”

Nicole Berard – associate creative director, mullen
“I was most interested in the discussion about what crowdsourcing means for creatives, and a bit surprised by the level of apprehension. There is definitely a generational divide—most younger folks have been naturally crowdsourcing for most of their lives, thanks to the Internet (even if the “crowd” is only a network of close personal friends). I suppose to feel threatened you need to believe in the notion of “job security” to begin with, and that seems pretty antiquated. If someone can do my job better and cheaper do I really have any right to it? That’s capitalism, baby.”

Brenna Hanly – emerging media specialist – Mediahub
“I struggle with the type of crowdsourcing that involves allowing the masses to vote on the best idea. In my opinion, we are losing out on great ideas/achievements in that way. The idea that rises to the top according to a popular vote is going to be something that appeals to a lowest common denominator and therefore can never be really great in any one way, rather it will be good in many ways. But then again maybe that is what advertising is supposed to do – appeal to the masses?”

Joe Grimaldi – president/ceo, mullen
“It’s real and here to stay and grow, but there’s a lot of thinking to be done about how a company organizes and manages to max effectiveness.”

Expect more about this event on, including a piece on “10 things to help you get started in crowdsourcing.” It will have ideas, tips, explanations, many that came from people at the AdClub event. Plus, the AdClub is going to post a pre-recorded video version of the discussion.