(Continued after the Jump)
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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