Let real people have a crack

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Those clever chaps that started Skype have done it again. They have found a smart way of making streamed online TV a reality: They call it Joost (joost.com). The big problems of storage space, bandwidth and the time it would take to download your favorite episode of "Mork & Mindy" have been solved by the cunning devils by distributing the content and serving it over a network of personal computers. Your computer speaks to thousands of other computers, simultaneously pulls down hundreds of little bits of the program and reconstructs them on the fly. Fast, cheap, desirable and still as funny as it was 20 years ago.

Apparently this is called distributed networking and the same concept is surfacing in our own industry. Let's call it "distributed creativity."

The basic idea is that you no longer rely on one or two brilliant creative minds to crack your problem (although that is still a very good place to start). Instead, you use the internet to spread the creative task across hundreds of ordinary brains and see what comes back.

Ten years ago, a British creative director thought he could make a business out of posting briefs to a web of established freelancers all around the world. It didn't quite work. The idea was right but the execution was flawed. You don't have to be a professional ad person to come up with great stuff. Just . Maybe they won't get it 100% right but they each might add a little bit of creativity. Sifting through those little bits and then making something of them produces some interesting twists. Trust people, give them somewhere to start and some assets to play with and you will be amazed at what comes back.

Recently, over here, Sony took this approach with their follow up to "Balls" for Bravia TVs. They made a great ad, "Paint" (bravia-advert.com) but then made many of the assets available for people to pick up, play with, repackage and then pass on. Some great stuff happened as a result (youtube.com/watch?v=6X_vAzixa6s). This didn't replace the great ad from Fallon at the heart of the campaign but it added depth, energy and broader appeal.

A fresh approach to generating great stuff. Distributed creativity.

We thought this was a new development over here until we saw the Doritos ads in the Super Bowl. Great minds and great industries think alike, eh? Nanu, nanu.

Ivan Pollard is a partner at Naked Communications, London, a global communications strategy shop with offices in six countries.
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