Just when I was about to write off the “crowdsourced” advertising trend as a fad…I happened to read about Etsy.com‘s consumer-generated commercial campaign in AdAge. The online crafts marketplace launched a contest among its own members for 30-second spots, and some of the entries are wonderful. You can view them and vote for your favorite handmade moment here.
Of course, you might expect some extraordinary entries from people who are creative and entrepreneurial enough to market their own jewelry, crafts, and accessories on Etsy. It’s a wonderful community, but as with anything handmade, there’s a huge range in quality and taste. That’s why the homemade ads are such a refreshing surprise. They show the passion, creativity, and soul of the Etsy community in an effortless way. I can’t see a traditional creative team making it look so natural.
Yet, I still have big doubts about crowdsourcing. There’s no way the Etsy campaign is typical. In many cases, these kinds of contests are dominated by out-of-work advertising creatives (which I’m sure is the case with the Unilever Peperami sausage product that I blogged about earlier.) But, here the rules state that advertising professionals are ineligible to participate. There’s also a strong public relations component to the contest. All companies want to use their own customers as brand evangelists, but it’s unbelievably difficult to do that well, and with credibility. Here, it’s a natural fit, which is why throwing it open to this very atypical “crowd” makes for some terrific ads, and a well-crafted brand message.