Miscellaneous August 19, 2012 2

Who Needs An Advertising Agency, Anyway?

What is the future of advertising? Will companies customers change advertising agencies?

When we started to work with Harley-Davidson we had this crazy idea. If you could source ideas from advertising professionals around the world using digital management (via Victors & Spoils’ digital collaboration system which we call Agency Machine) then why couldn’t a brand source ideas from their own most rabid fans?

With all of the attention that is on social media, and the significant investment by brands in fan acquisition, why not put fans to work? By doing so you could figure out a couple of things. First, who your most important fans are. And second, by allowing fans access into the brand in a substantial way, we’d create radical engagement. Fans would no longer be customers but co-creators of the brand.

These questions lead us on a journey to create Fan Machine.

Fan Machine is software that allows a folks who have “liked” a brand on Facebook to submit ideas directly to the brand. By giving fans an easy way to contribute ideas and vote on submissions from other fans, Fan Machine facilitates real co-creation with the brands they love, while giving them a chance at prizes and a seat at the creative table. And brands can wrangle the conversation by posting specific “briefs” for their fans to work on. These briefs might relate to an upcoming advertising campaign, new product or seasonal promotion.

We launched Fan Machine last November with Harley-Davidson as our first client. Harley-Davidson has some great passionate fans that really went to town. 584 people threw down ideas for the first brief and 16,000 people voted, to create campaign ideas for the model year 12 1/2. Harold Chase, from Tukwila, Washington, submitted the idea that became the advertising campaign, “E Pluribus Unum.” The V&S team shaped Harold’s idea then used Twitter to cast fans and followers, all bike owners, for the spot, above.

In a world where ideas can come from anywhere – and amateurs are getting better everyday at creating everything from videos to posters – what is the role of an agency? While it might seem like there’s not much of a future for them, our experience is that agencies play an even more vital role. With an abundance of ideas, it’s easy for a brand to get crushed by the sheer volume of possibility. Agencies are evolving to focus on three areas, 1. The development of a great brief that gives anyone the ability to deliver good work; 2. The creative and strategic direction of ideas; and 3. Brand stewardship.

Under the leadership of Mark-Hans Richer, Scott Beck, Dino Bernacchi, Mark Peine and the rest of the Harley-Davidson team, we at V&S have the ability to focus our creative energies at the front edge of advertising. Their visionary approach, that great ideas can come from everywhere and can be curated into great work, will be a model for many other brands to follow.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnI_HgcE5ss]

By John Winsor (CEO of  Victors & Spoils)

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  1. bvconrad61

    August 19, 2012

    Reblogged this on Branded and commented:
    A succinct and intelligent take on social media, consumer input into a brand, and the role agencies will take in the future.

  2. Fozzie

    August 20, 2012

    Quite intelligent gimmick, although I'm not exactly sure about the way V&S exploits the scarcity of good advertising creative jobs (and god budgets) on the market by pushing forward crowdsourcing.

    What John Winsor fails to tell us is how much did the originator of the Pluribus Unum concept - Harold Chase from Tukwila, Washington - received for his idea, how much the guys that were commissioned by V&S got for the executions - and what was the agencys mark-up on top of that...

    Come on guys... Is the situation of Harley Davidson so desperate so that they cannot afford an agency anymore? We know sales have dropped and thus marketing budgets are most likely to drop as well, but how low can you go?

    Although "democratic" and socially attractive, crowdsourcing it's not quite an ethical business model to follow - encouraging everybody (clients and industry professionals alike) to think that "everyone is creative" and lower talent fees for your own profit - yes, everyone has the right to an opinion and everybody might be truly creative, but how relevant and true to the brand's genuine values - is it ok to surrender the brand to the consumer? Isn't he already almighty in terms of attention span and product preference (i.e. customization)? Are we prepared to replace marketing executives with fanlike - customer committees? Quite difficult to swallow...

    IMHO good advertising, as good design, good product development or good art should not be trivialised in terms of minimising talent costs ... It's a very dangerous path towards "cheapening" what's most valuable: ideas and true talent.

    Very good initiative the Fan Machine software... how about some fair compensation deals as well - for both the winning fan and the hungry art directors and copywriters that cannot support their families anymore in agencies and reside on the freelance community organised-by-some-greedy-entrepreneurs-without-too-much-respect-for-the-real-talent...or so it seems.

    Should a logo cost 5$? Should a campaign idea cost be reduced to a mere few thousand bucks? Should Harley Davidson charge tens of thousands of dollars on their pieces of machinery but pay peanuts to the creative freelance community of V&S and expect miracles again? I personally doubt it...

    How low can you go, Harley-Davidson?

    Oh, and one thing to those who think that paying peanuts will bring them diamonds... No, it will only bring you problems with the monkeys - as they are clever, intuitive and quick-learners...as all creative beings :-))

    Au bon entendeur, salut!

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