Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ad Agency Cut as Unilever Crowdsources Its Creative

Two and a half years ago, we took to task Five Point Productions, of Cary North Carolina, for their ill-advised free contribution and boasting of the $13 cost to produce a commercial for Doritos' Superbowl commercial (Free photos (and $13 Superbowl ads, 2/1/07), since then, the highlights of their work have been a weak ad for Trans World Radio, a PSA for a radio station, and they continue to use their footage of a promo they did for a local wedding chapel, that we wrote about 18 months ago in our follow-up piece "Superbowl Suckers - One Year Later, 2/3/08. Yet, Doritos continues to milk the concept, touting their successes here. So, let's see - Doritos wins, everyone else gets a nifty t-shirt saying "I'm With Stupid", and an arrow pointing towards the collar area. Five Point learned what everyone that "works for photo credit" or "for the glory" does - doing that work does not pay off in more and better work - even when you are showcased in the Super Bowl ad lineup.

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Not to be outdone by the Doritos/Frito Lay parent company Pepsi Co, Unilever has upped the anty - firing their entire ad agency to crowdsourcing and a contest, as Advertising Age reports, in Don't Look Now, but the Crowd Might Just Steal Your Ad Account (9/14/09). Unilever's Chief Marketing Officer suggests that this crowdsourcing approach will translate into "outstanding" results, rather than just the "good" results he was getting from his agency, according to the article. In addition, as the article notes "the move to crowdsourcing saves on agency fees." Now, the entire effort has been taken internal, with no outside ad agency handling the media buy, or managing the contest.

Certainly, as entries are submitted, and presumably voted upon, the company's competition will know the direction of a strategic ad, so they can counter-program. Further, just as chinese "sweat shops" of World of Warcraft have sprung up to "farm gold", so too, could a rival agency, for just a few thousand dollars, outsource to Chinese computer users voting to promote the worst ad.

Unilever is penny-wise and pound-foolish here in this move. If they thought that the results from their current agency were just "good", they could have put out an RFP for a new agency to get "outstanding". This is, to say the least, a bone-headed move.

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Rich Green said...

Didn't Pepsi recently spend a gazillon dollars on a new logo for their soda?
Obviously some "cheap" ad campaigns will hit the target - I"m not a sharpshooter but even I will get a bullseye if I just keep on trying - however for a multi-national company to approach their marketing like Judy Garland and Mickie Rooney "Andy Hardy - Let's put on a show!" approach, just doesn't make any sense.

JeffGreenberg said...

You're swimming against the tide:


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