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Intl brand ditches agency for crowdsourcing

International Unilever brand Peperami has ditched its existing agency in favour of the South African-developed online ‘social think tank', IdeaBounty.com. Needless to say, creative executives aren't convinced.
Peperami, which enjoys a cult-like following thanks largely to the off-beat advertising created by incumbent agency Lowe, is in need of ‘fresh eyes' for a new brand launch, according to marketing manager Noam Buchalter.

“Our agency Lowe has done some fabulous work on the Peperami brand but we felt that a new approach could yield something fresh,” he said in an interview posted on eConsultancy last week.

Remains skeptical


But Lowe Worldwide's chief creative officer Matthew Bull. speaking to Bizcommunity.com, remains skeptical: “Whilst one should always applaud clients doing brave and innovative things - which this certainly is - the great problem I have always found with ideas is not the getting of them - people have loads of ideas every day - it's the judging of them, and the making of the ideas better.

“What Peperami will get is hundreds of thousands of ideas, certainly more than could be generated by their agency, but 99.8% of them will be completely wrong. And it is my strong belief that quality creative directors found in quality agencies are a vital, vital part of identifying and sculpting ideas,” he says.

Of course, the folks at www.ideabounty.com disagree: “Opening this process to thousands of creative minds, rather than working with a small team of creatives at one agency is sure to deliver a plethora of Ideas. Idea Bounty has around 4500 registered creatives - sourcing from this pool of creative minds will deliver results that will match or even surpass that of an ad agency,” counters Idea Bounty's Daniel Neville.

Idea Bounty, which was launched in October 2008 by South African-based Quirk eMarketing, bills itself as a ‘social think tank', a variation on the so-called crowdsourcing strategy that has seen businesses around the world tap into the collective intelligence of the public instead of outsourcing to a specific third-party provider. The site has hosted briefs from the likes of BMW, Levi's, Red Bull, SABMiller and the WWF and, so far, it boasts a 100% success rate.

Largest bounty so far


The Idea Bounty difference is that it pays for ideas, as opposed to fully-crafted pieces of work. Unilever is currently offering a $US10 000 bounty to the creative/s that crack the brief that was posted on the site last week. This is the largest bounty the site has offered thus far, doubling the previous bounty high of US$5000, offered by Red Bull.

When quizzed further on the reasons for turning to crowdsourcing, Buchalter commented that the company is not necessarily keen on fully open and public sourcing.

“We wouldn't use crowdsourcing to start a campaign from scratch, something that takes months of ideas and development, that is something I think you need to have an agency for,” he said.

“However, if there is a campaign with a straight-forward and well defined brief, then crowdsourcing is worth considering.”

Committed to continued use


In this case, Peperami has committed to continued use of ‘The Animal', the mascot that Lowe created for the brand in 1993 and which has been incredibly successful for the brand.

“I think it is an outstanding character that has been created, but it is difficult to keep him fresh with the limited number of people working on the ads... we think that crowdsourcing will really work here.”

Bizcommunity.com understands that once the winning idea has been selected, the brand will take it to another London-based agency which will craft and hone the idea for final execution. This seems to be the standard modus operandi once brands have identified the winning ideas from Idea Bounty. Levis recently rolled out its "Get rid of your jeans for good campaign" which was sparked from an idea purchased from Idea Bounty that was subsequently tweaked and honed before being released.

Of course, a move like this isn't only about idea sourcing. Money always comes into the equation:

“Value equation so much better”


“People are looking very carefully at the fees they pay, and if they can get better value elsewhere then they will. For us, we think we get can much better creative value for this campaign at a much lower cost than we would through an agency, the value equation is so much better,” Buchalter commented on eConsultancy.

He is also adamant that the decision to use Idea Bounty will not see the brand compromise on its standards.

It's clear however that Bull is not convinced. In an uncharacteristically guarded statement, he says simply that, “I'm not familiar with the people behind Idea Bounty, nor of exactly how they will work with the brand team, so perhaps they have all the expertise they need.

“Time will, as it always, does tell.”

About Kim Penstone

Kim Penstone is a freelance journalist focusing on the marketing, media and advertising world. In the 10 years that she has worked in this environment, she has been editor of Marketing Mix, founding editor of MediaBytes and CreativeBytes, publisher of Marketingweb and associate editor of Brand magazine. Contact her on email .
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