Update - we've edited this article Friday August 29, see footnote.
Colossal Spark is a brand new crowdsourcing website for advertisers, and creatives alike. Now I know what you're thinking: Great, another exploitive site a la Victors and Spoils, where the partners make a boat load of money while enlisting thousands upon thousands of minions to work for free or next to free. I'll bet they're just waiting patiently to be bought out by a holding company, there by making even MORE money.
But wait! It's totally not like that, you guys.
Okay so, it is true Colossal Spark ensures that brands get a lot of people to work on assignments for the cheapest amount possible. They have a three-tiered system. Starting for less than 5 grand for an idea, and going all the way up to less than 20 grand for a "big idea." Did I say idea? Sorry. My bad, y'all! It's not just for one idea, but dozens of 'em! For the "feet first," lowest-tiered position a brand might get an average of twelve ideas. But it could be more. Who knows? And the highest, Cannonball range gets an whopping average of 33 ideas. Sounds like a lot of work for little money doesn't it? Hm...so that does sound kinda similar to the usual crowdsourcing sites...
Okay so who started this thing? Surely it's some awesome creative types, right? Well, the advisory board doesn't have a lot of traditional agencies on the map. Actually there's really none that I can see. There is some people from Google. ! Go figure!
I know you want to ask: what about the people generating the ideas? Surely they're paid fairly, right? Some digging on the FAQ site suggests that there is one finalist who is awarded "the lion's share of money," while ten finalists also get rewarded- wait for it-- wait for it-- a hundred dollars! Colossal Spark gets 15% of course, and keeps aside 5% for award entry fees so they really keep 20% but I guess the vague Lion's Share they speak of is more like 80% minus $1,000. And 80% while sounding like a lot would still depend on the amount of participants and, my head hurts from fuzzy math.
But that's okay because you know why? Guys! Colossal Spark also gives you credit! For your ideas! Free credit and a hundred bucks, or some vague "lion's share" of some sum. Holy shitballs! Sign me up!
Hold on though, it gets even better! Knowing creatives as well as they do, Colossal Spark was designed only to generate ideas. Not produce or execute them. Because why on earth would I want to actually have a hand in producing the idea I came up with, amirite? What creative wouldn't want to be treated like a fluffer?
Sign me up!
Oh but sadly, you can't just sign up. No, Colossal Spark sets its sites high, only wanting to enlist one thousand of the most creative people already out there. Wouldn't want to exploit just any one, right? No effing way, dude! How did they choose these 1,000 solid people, you ask? Let's consult the Colossal Spark FAQ once again to find out:
"Our creatives were selected through peer-to-peer recruitment. Word was spread through leading agencies, design firms, production houses, etc., inviting the cream of the industry to apply on our website. We then selected 1,000 of those with the most impressive idea track records and portfolios."
Okay so a pool of a thousand creatives makes the math seem less fuzzy and...well, still pretty horrible from a renumeration standpoint. But hey, there's more to blood sweat and tears idea generation than some paycheck, no? There's satisfaction or something. Check out this nugget from the FAQ, to a brand, answering the question 'Do Advertising Agencies hate you."
The lousy ones don’t – we’re no threat to them. The good ones shouldn’t because we’re giving their (moonlighting) creatives great briefs sans the revisions, politics and less-than-satisfactory executions – and sending them back to their offices sharp and satisfied.
While Colossal Spark is launching softly today, I have a close friend who was honored enough to be "chosen," by the Colossal Spark team back earlier this year. This was a portion of their initial email. Bold emphasis mine:
Just dropping a line to say your work's been noticed – either through a personal recommendation or because it has caught our attention recently – as one among a selection of essential innovators in the creative enterprises.
Not to over-flatter here, but your standing within your craft has snagged you a place among a limited list of professionals invited to join Colossal Spark.
To recruit eminent creative minds and match them with interesting brand building challenges faced by major U.S. companies – those that are comfortable looking beyond their agency of record for inventive ways to thrive.
We've founded Colossal Spark on a belief that recent changes in the technological, creative and business realms present irresistible new prospects for great work. We're also mindful of the potential bar-lowering aspects of wide-open crowdsourcing. So Colossal Spark is set up to fly or die on the principle that ideas of genius are more likely to come from a small but potent group operating outside the agency creative department.
This is why we've capped membership at 1,000. Each member will bring the experience, professionalism and whip-smart talent our clients expect. Compensation is per-project. Naturally, we offer the option of anonymity to those who desire it.
By the way, my buddy sent me an email today Ray Mond, the CEO of Colossal Spark, in preparation of the soft launch. I guess a lot of time elapsed between the beginning of the year and now, eh? No matter. Read on and be inspired. Again, emphasis mine.
Hello patient creative,
I imagine (and hope) you’ve occasionally wondered what the hell’s been going on with Colossal Spark. Well, it’s been a long, twisty road. But, in short, we’ve been hustling relentlessly to give life to our dream. It’s all taken far longer than imagined - to assemble the creative crowd we wanted, to comply with our lawyers’ demands, to establish relationships with the right journalists, to perfect our pitch deck for investors and to get the word out to potential clients.
But all is done
Colossal Spark officially, if softly, launches later today with the posting of our inaugural brief - plus another to follow next week. This first gig is a (redacted) Admittedly, it’s not of the magnitude we’ll be posting in future months, but the client is like family to us, so we thought “What better first customer?”
Calling all designers
I encourage not only web designers, but all graphic designers with interactive experience, to take up tomorrow’s brief and submit your best pitch. The company is very cool, the deliverable rather simple. And since Colossal’s crowd doesn’t contain multitudes of designers, we anticipate fewer than 10 competing on this - so the odds of winning are rather great.
Thanks to you
I have received a good number of emails from you, our creative beating heart. Some had questions, some had praise, others aired complaints. Please keep them coming. They are our outside view in. They make us better. And I will continue to reply to each one and act accordingly on its contents.
Ah...so! Ad agencies should be totally cool with creatives moonlighting on the side, possibly in a conflict of interest scenario, because Colossal Spark is less political and stuff. High five!
Now I have no idea how many people are actually signed up and participating, but seeing as how they're showcasing work that wasn't done by anyone at Colossal Spark and they'll even helpfully remove them if you ask, and seeing as how they don't really have a portfolio of any work to show, I'm kinda guessing that this isn't setting any hearts on fire.
I can't for the life of me understand why. Agencies should totally be okay with their employees moonlighting on different brands. And creatives should totally be okay with the eventuality of a thousand person gang bang on an assignment for a client who is too cheap to hire an agency.
You know what I think it is? I think people aren't getting how Colossal this really is. So rest assured, we here at Adland will be helping to spread the word to all of our friends and their ad agencies, too.
Footnote - this is important: We've been contacted by one of the people on the "advisory board", whose name used to be in this article. He has now made sure that his name is removed from that "advisors" page. He let us know that he had been asked for input 18 months ago, and hadn't heard from them since, nor has he provided any advisory work to Colossal spark. The plot thickens.