Wired.com has an article about a site that allows your average Joe or Jane to create taglines and come up with concepts for ads. Similar to brands getting consumers involved in advertising like that contest Geico is running.
First prizes go up to $500US all the way down to $50. The site that Wired writes about, as if it's a paid placement, also doesn't not have the permission of the brands are creating contests for. They are hoping to sell the work to these brands, but well, how rare of an occassion is that? Heck, if a brand, like Coca Cola is your client, you still probably have to jump through hoops to get them to buy a good idea, let alone one by someone who doesn't understand demographics, or what really goes into creating an ad. And, not only do they try to sell only the top idea but the entire caboodle of entries they receive. Of course, *if* it gets sold they will split the profits with the top 20 people. Ok. Sounds reasonable enough of a reason for me to give up the rights to an idea. Especially if it doesn't get used.
Perhaps they think the general public doesn't understand the value of their ideas. Then again, there seem to be many in the industry that doen't understand the value of ideas either. Take this posting on Craigslist:
Need a person to help create some advertising/marketing materials for a home inspection company and a Realtor. You need to be creative and capable of taking an idea and creating three or four pieces of marketing materials, including traditional newspaper/magazine ads, email marketing, direct mail pieces, etc.
If you want to short-circuit the process, create a one-piece ad selling vacuum cleaners to an Eskimo for his igloo. Email it to me as a PDF.
Also email anything else from your portfolio that indicates what you can do, along with references and résumé.
Let's see what you can do. We can help each other.
Compensation: $10 per hour with commissions and bonuses possible. Contract also possible.
Now no self-respecting ad person is going to take that job. At least I'd hope not. Funny how so many take what we creative types do for granted (actually I don't find it funny at all).
There's actually a site that's been around for ages, Fuck That Job, which collects the worst of the worst job ads. It'd be alot more humorous if it wasn't all so true! Not so surprisingly the majority of their listings come from Craigslist. For more on lowballing, read "New Challenges from the Lowballers...and What to Do About 'Em".
There are already enough crappy ideas out there coming from ad agencies...what do we have to now deal with crappy ideas from the consumer? It's easy to hate advertising...everyone does according to countless surveys. But when it's your neighbor who's creating the ads...will you be more likely to go egg his house since you know where and who he his? Granted, not all consumer ads or ideas about advertising are crap. But the majority of them are. Why? Because they only understand it from one point of view. If it was so easy to do, there wouldn't be oodles of ad schools or communications schools around the globe. And no, it's not like we're doing brain surgery or anything, but there is always a difference between someone who is educated about a trade and those who are not. Would you ask your brother to build you a house just because he knows how to turn on a tablesaw?
Ad professionals study ads. We don't avoid them (usually). We pay attention to competitor's advertising. There is something to be said for a fresh perspective, although I always thought that was sort of the point of going through the whole consumer testing and doing your research. Just because everyone thinks they can create ads (much like everyone things they could become an actor or actress), it doesn't mean you can or will be any good at it.
It's tough enough dealing with clients who are constantly changing work because they get caught up on "happy" vs. "joyful" or kill a concept because their wife's friend's uncle's neighboor's cousin doesn't like the color blue. But what happens to the industry as a whole when sites like these actually go after real clients trying to steal the Coca Cola's of the world from the BBDOs? Let's just hope that it never ever comes anywhere close to that.
Just remember you get what you pay for in this wacky world of ours.