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Is open innovation the future of advertising?

Two industry experts have shared their views about the future of advertising in a blog featured in the Harvard Business Review – and their ideas make for “disruptive reading” for any art director or account manager with an eye for innovation.

John Winsor, CEO of Victors and Spoils, and Wharton School Professor of Marketing, Jerry Wind, begin with the statement, “Much like newspapers, conventional advertising agencies are becoming irrelevant.”

No cages 

If this is causing a cold sweat to break out in the reading art director or account manager, relax. They’re far from pessimistic. Agencies, they say, need to capitalize on today’s new democratized creativity trends facilitated by crowdsourcing, open innovation and co-creation. When Windsor’s agency heard that Harley Davidson was dropping a long-term agency, it chose to steer away from the traditional pitch process. Instead, it posted a brief to its 7,200-strong crowd of strategists and creatives, comprising freelancers, brand and advertising enthusiasts and moonlighters from other agencies. All had chosen to collaborate on the new open working model (aptly called “No Cages”) at V&S.

The result? Six hundred ideas were generated. V&S then sifted through the ideas, selected 65, presented them to Harley – and landed the account.

The “Fan Machine” app created by V&S continues the open innovation theme. Brands can use it in three ways: as an idea-generating engine, a social media platform and an ad agency. Harley used it to inform fans of their idea-submission process and awards. V&S used the app to track the fans’ ideas and their votes. After 8,193 votes on 222 ideas, an idea from Washington was selected by a fan. V&S developed it into the “Stereotypical Harley” campaign and it went down a storm.

A transformation 

The shift to open systems, Winsor and Wind insist, isn’t simply an innovation, it’s a transformation. They write, “Each open innovation agency (and there are many) has its own revenue model, but common to all of them is the basic proposition of expanding the agency’s capabilities by tapping the wisdom of a global self-selected crowd of creatives, strategists, and fans.”

There aren’t many companies with the resources to hire the expertise and creativity open innovation networks can deliver. Agencies which tap into these networks are on to a win-win cycle.

Art directors, start harnessing the creativity of everyone around you in cyber space.

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