Got Any Ideas? TBWA Wants You to do its Work

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TBWA now claims to have a creative department of about 4 billion people.

Major marketers such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Converse have already turned to consumers to develop ad creative, and Frito-Lay's Doritos even offered a Super Bowl spot to the best consumer-turned-adman. But the London office of TBWA is trying an experiment by going a step further, crowd-sourcing almost all of its clients' needs.

Within the next two weeks, the agency plans to ask its clients, which include Apple Computer, Nissan and Pedigree, for permission to post briefs on the shop's site, encouraging visitors to submit ideas for anything from campaigns to events. Anyone who wants to demonstrate their ideas in person-and get a coffee-will also be able to walk into the lobby of TBWA's London offices and use a computer, art board or other equipment to define their thoughts.

"We're at a point of change for creativity," said Steve Henry, executive creative director, TBWA London, who is spearheading the experiment he calls "the next stage" of YouTube. "The old-fashioned model of an agency pumping out an idea" has been replaced by a new model which involves consumers in 'co-creation' or "multidimensional Ping-Pong or chess," he said. "You've got access to a global creative department of 4 billion people," he said.

Lee Clow, chairman-chief creative officer, TBWA/Worldwide, said: "It's all part of this massaging of this new media world that we live in and sometimes the funky, crude consumer-created content has a charm that's interesting."

Some agency executives were cautious about prospects. Ed Cotton, director of strategy-consulting firm Influx, part of Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif., said he was taking a wait-and-see attitude on exactly which briefs would be placed, and how the agency would "incentivize" contributors. Mr. Cotton was involved in one of the earliest examples of consumer-generated content with a campaign for Converse that invited consumers to make short-films for the sneaker brand.

The TBWA project's prototype website provided a few words of caution for contributors. "Any idea you submit becomes the property of TBWA," it stated. "But we promise-any idea we use, you will get paid for."
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