It can’t be easy being an advertising agency these days.
There’s the problem of talent, of making the business profitable, of figuring out new ways to engage consumers in that catchword “conversations”, of getting a complete handle on digital.
And then the consumer starts coming up with ideas.
And the marketer seems to be asking for it.
The first discussion at Spikes Asia 2011 was about whether the consumer is the agency of the future. Panelists included James Thompson, chief marketing officer, APAC, Diageo; Leonardo O’Grady, director ASEAN integrated marketing and communications, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific, Rob Sherlock, chief creative officer, Draftfcb, and Joel Cere, global director, insights and innovations solutions, eYeka. The session was moderated by Frederique Covington, chief marketing officer lead of Microsoft APAC.
There is some truth in the fact that it doesn’t take a genius to come up with an ad (of course, there is genius to be found in a good ad). However, Sherlock said that while a good idea is a good idea wherever it comes from, not every ad the consumer comes up with would be something that is in line with the brand’s strategy. The agency’s professional expertise couldn’t be suddenly discounted or abandoned, and hence, the role of the agency in a crowdsourcing scenario is that of a curator, who would pick the gems and hone them further. He also pointed out that the crowdsourced ad didn’t have to go through client iterations and rounds and rounds of research, which was something agencies had to bear in mind.
The marketers on the panel were quite open to crowdsourcing as an idea in itself, which just goes to show that we’re going to see more of it as a trend. Coke’s O’Grady spoke about ‘creative collectives’ – where the marketer identifies people versus agencies who would make the brand famous; these people could be teenagers or executive creative directors, and the institution they’re with wouldn’t matter. Diageo’s Thompson added that the point of crowdsourcing wasn’t to get better or cheaper ads but to get people to participate in what the brand is talking about. Consumers these days vote with their mobiles and laptops and it is the responsibility of the brand to create engaging content, he said.
EYeka’s Cere said the agencies won’t disappear but their role will change. The question was whether they could change, since it seemed many had missed the bus for the Internet and social media revolutions. Thompson pointed out that boutique shops seemed more agile than the networks at adapting to new scenarios.
The session had begun with a video about Coca-Cola’s 4.5 month long contest with eYeka which offered a reward of the winning video being entered at Cannes Lions 2012, as one of the prizes. Of the two finalist videos shown - O’Grady said that one did a nice job of capturing the playful side of the brand (click here to watch the video), and the other was an exquisite piece of filmmaking (click here to watch the video) - the jury’s pick was the former. I bumped into O’Grady later at the Press Centre, where he had come for an interview, and told him the jury’s choice had been mine as well, and for the same reason as theirs, as it turned out – it was more “Coke”.
For me, this just reiterated what Sherlock had said. Crowdsourcing is a way to engage people, but the content generated has to be true to what the brand stands for. Agencies that bring their expertise to the table, instead of their egos, would do well to leverage it.
India-spotting: KV Sridhar with the Leo Burnett teams from Colombo and Bangladesh; only Nitesh Tiwari and Pops are here from India.
Singapore experience: The Suntec Convention Centre has a church as well on the second level which was having a congregation of some sort. Spikes Asia delegates who attempted to head there by mistake were politely referred in the right direction for their dose of inspiration.