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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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