More Brains for Your Buck

ADwërks recently partook in the modern trend of crowdsourcing. We had been running some Carino’s bus sign ads with copy that depicted famous movie quotes with an added Carino’s twist. For example, “May the fork be with you,” or “Pasta la vista, baby.” The community really seemed to respond well to the ads. Customers would often offer up their own movie quote ideas to waiters and waitresses when they came in to eat. So we decided to give Carino’s customers an opportunity for their ideas to be heard and to possibly be used in the movie quote ads. We ran a contest on Facebook and the winning ideas were awarded with a Carino’s gift card, and the fulfillment of seeing their movie quote copy featured in Carino’s bus sign ads.

This is an example of crowdsourcing. In a certain context, it can be controversial. Crowdsourcing is basically the process of utilizing the public to gather new business ideas and to accomplish work tasks. It’s a complicated subject with many pros and cons that may change based on the context and the circumstances in which it is being used. But in general, crowdsourcing is considered to be less expensive than paying someone to accomplish the same tasks, plus you get a lot more “brains for your buck” by having an almost unlimited amount of potential participants. A con would be a lack of quality work and an unreliable deadline. For every, let’s say 500 submissions you get, you might only find one good idea. And it may take a long time to sift through all the bad ideas to find it. Or in some scenarios, you may not get any good ideas at all. So is this strategy really worth the risk?

I think it all depends. We utilized crowdsourcing in a simple, practical way. The task was pretty straightforward – take a famous movie quote and make it work as a Carino’s headline, something everyone could participate in. And in the end we got some good ideas. Plus, it was a great way to get Carino’s fans involved with the brand. But we didn’t put all of our eggs in one basket. And we certainly didn’t ask people to do anything they were unqualified to do. When companies start crowdsourcing people for more skilled work like graphic design or animation, then the issue starts getting more complicated.

It would be hard for me to say that utilizing the kind of crowdsourcing that gets your client’s customers more involved is a bad thing. When used for the advancement of a brand and customer engagement, crowdsourcing can be a great advertising tool. But when it’s used to harness people’s skills, talents and ideas for cheap, or in some cases free labor, that’s a whole different story.

What are your opinions on crowdsourcing?

– Andrew

Photo credit: Cheng-long Chang

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