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  Crowdsourcing and the limits of advertising


Crispin Porter + Bogusky are brand entertainers not brand consultants.

As an advertising agency CP+B should only be employed to help build the brand once the core attributes and a strategic plan have been established by a specialist brand consultancy. Their creative integrity is not at stake by employing crowdsourcing, their business integrity is.

One of the following scenarios seems likely:

1. CP+B aren't aware that they shouldn't try to compete with specialist brand consultancies. Advertising strategies shouldn't be confused with brand strategies.

2. They are naively attempting to create a brand identity by crowdsourcing a logo for their client. Without a brand strategy a brand identity is meaningless. Crowdsourcing is unlikely ever to accomodate meaningfully directed brand strategies.

3. They are just winging it to see what happens. This is what makes advertising agencies good at entertaining people but rubbish at brand strategy.

4. As with BBH Labs, CP+B might be fully aware of the brand strategy implications but their motivation and brand strategy is as yet unknown. If BBH Labs' experiment is anything to go by this seems unlikely. BBH Labs only appeared intent on creating a media spectacle and still doesn't have a brand identity beyond an association with the spectacle they created under the guise of innovation. Fine for them up to a point, given the nature of their industry but a potential disaster for Brammo and CP+B.

There is nothing inherently wrong with crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing demonstrates the actual value of design by marking out the limits of design. Perhaps all CP+B want out of the exercise is a logo. By crowdsourcing a logo, a logo they will get but, it won't mean much.

If the owners of the Brammo brand are not aware of these likely scenarios then they may become another case study marking out the limits of an advertising approach to building brands.

Taking chances will only get advertisers so far.


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