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    If you had an Infinite number of monkeys sat at typewriters, you would get Shakespeare. There is a logic to this, and it is driving crowd-sourcing theory to its logical extreme. I don’t know about other sectors, but in creative circles, this has recently been described as crowd subjugation. Harsh words from precious, scared creatives throwing their toys out of the pram? Maybe. But there is some truth behind the tears. 

 The trouble with monkeys is, although you can easily pay them in peanuts, as anyone who has been to a zoo will know, you don’t actually get Shakespeare. You actually get a load of monkeys throwing poo at each other. That’s a metaphor right there. Let me explain. 

Yes it’s insulting to our profession, to brief en-masse and cherry pick (and only pay for) the best,  but so what? The number crunchers have always won in these battles and, on the face of it, they can’t lose. You pay a small amount and get a huge amount of speculative work for free. Great for clients, a ‘meritocracy’ in creative work, prices reduced. Fantastic. 

If you want a logo, you could get 1000 desperate design grads to have a go, and pay one of them 100 quid. Or you could pay a design firm 10, 100, or 10,000 times that. It really is a no-brainer. 

But here’s the thing. The other 999 will soon get pissed off with not being paid. Starting with the most talented/least desperate. Your talent pool gets less talented, and shallower each time you dip your toes. 

You are not sourcing opinions, or reducing profit margins on car insurance, you are asking people to work, and not paying them. Would your accountant happily work like that? Your builder? Anyone else? Design will no longer be an attractive career/university course/school subject. Overall quality nosedives. In the medium-term, I believe creative crowd sourcing will fail for that reason alone. 

But, if the numbers stack up in the short-term, what the heck? Well, fortunately for creatives, just as you can rely on ‘cost’ rather than ‘value’ when it comes to amateurish procurement, so you can also rely on last-minute, delicately nuanced, threadbare briefs from clients. They hurt, but what doesn’t kill you , makes you stronger. Right?

You need an idea, bang on brand, by tomorrow? Try crowd sourcing that. Or what about an ‘informed’ piece of work taking into account sector competitors and niche industry cliches. Poor briefing has upskilled your regular creatives to do this with ease. Crowds, no matter how large, will not have the time to learn, nor the inclination to deliver that quickly.  

Poor briefing could actually save our bacon here. Next time you get a shocker with no proposition and no evidence, cherish it. Only you can deliver against it. 

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