Crowdsourcing Creative Content

Posted on 11/14/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 14, 2006

Who needs professional image creators when you have crowdsourcing? At least two of the ads you'll get to see on the February 4, 2007 telecast of the Super Bowl will be created by non-professionals.

Doritos and the NFL are both appealing to fans to create, and in the Doritos case, shoot their own Super Bowl ad. Ann Mukherjee, VP, marketing of Doritos says, "In today's increasingly reality-driven world, people are looking for new ways to interact with, help shape and even personalize what is important to them."

What an opportunity for a young person trying to break into the business, or a frustrated fan who is fed up with most of what they see on TV and thinks he/she has a better idea.

Doritos has announced that it's skipping the studio sound stage and big-name celebrities for its Super Bowl XLI ad spot. Instead, for the first time ever, consumers are invited to create and shoot their own Super Bowl ad that celebrates their love of Doritos tortilla chips.

Five finalists' ads will be chosen in January and made available on the Internet so visitors can vote on their favorite ad. This visitor vote will help determine which of the finalists' ads will air during the big game.

The NFL is asking fans to pitch ideas for an NFL Super Bowl commercial with the winning idea being produced by a professional crew. Then NFL has set up three events in New York, November 17th and 18th ; Dallas, December 1st and 2nd and Denver December 8th and 9th to review pitches of up to 90 seconds in length. At each two day event they expect at least 2,000 different concepts to be pitched.

As with Doritos, an NFL jury will choose the five best concepts and make them available on the Internet during January so the world can vote on which one will be selected for viewing during the Super Bowl.

For more information about these two opportunities go to: or

Think About It

Is this just a one time aberration, or is this something that could develop into a much broader trend?

What is an advertiser trying to accomplish with a 30 second spot aired during the Super Bowl? He's trying to get the attention, for a brief moment, of a huge share of the population that views the game. With crowdsourcing he not only gets that, but he gets a much deeper involvement with a significant share of that population. Those drawn into the idea development and production are only a minor portion of the participants in the final ad. The opportunity to vote seems likely to create a very large and continuing buzz about the product over a period of weeks, rather than a one-shot, easily forgotten 30 seconds.

By running the contest they are getting the effect of at least five ads instead of one. Anyone who decides to vote has got to look at all five in order to make a choice - and maybe look at some repeatedly.

And then we get to cost. Granted there is a lot of cost in running these contests, and maybe it is even greater than what a major advertising agency would charge to produce one of its Super Bowl extravaganzas. But the producers of the Doritos five finalist ads will get $10,000 each and a trip to Miami. The NFL is just offering a free flight to Miami and a seat at the game.

From a future marketing point of view, getting the customers more involved is likely to become a much more effective way of developing product interest and loyalty than the more traditional approaches to advertising have been. This is good news for marketers. It may not be good news for those in the creative end of the business.

In the traditional approach to advertising, a handful of very experienced people bat around ideas of what they think will appeal to the masses, hire experienced professionals to produce the winning idea and then pay millions of dollars to place the ad where customers can interact with their creative vision.

In the crowdsourcing model they get the ideas of thousands of customers as to what each thinks will appeal to the masses (or more specifically to their niche group). The marketer sifts through these ideas and may choose one, or many, that would appeal to various segments of its target audience. Choosing many is particularly appealing if those developing the ideas are also creating the final advertising product so the marketer does not have to absorb production costs. Finally, the cost of placing these products on the internet, and pushing potential customers to view them, may be much less than the costs of traditional print or TV advertising where the results are much more difficult to measure.

Implication For Still Photographers

These crowdsourcing trends have major implications for those in the image creation business. They are now faced with additional competition from a host of amateurs. These amateur are more interested in recognition as compensation, than money. There is absolutely no question that this will have some impact on photographers endeavoring to earn a living from producing still images. The only question is how soon and how much will it impact them.

Copyright © 2006 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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