Mullen’s CCO Promotes Crowdsourcing in AdWeek Opine

By Matt Van Hoven 

Edward Boches is Mullen’s CCO, and lately he’s been a vocal part of the “conversation”. He wrote a few hundred words in about in AdWeek and you may be surprised at where the discussion turned.


During a gathering at SXSWi, a consortium of agency folk from 30 shops came together to discuss “how [they] might collaborate and innovate together in an effort to not only reinvent the future, but blow up the now.”

This means: agencies are concerned that they can’t solve their own problems (business related or otherwise) so they are naturally turning to one another for answers. But what happens when you put a bunch of ad people in a box? They claw at each other to get to the top. Or, as Boches put it: “The idea that if we give away some of our thinking it might help our reputation, establish our authority and, more importantly, introduce us to others who, by returning the favor, make us smarter and more effective.” For an industry hell-bent on sharing only six-month old information, this is sorta revolutionary. It’s also already been done, and it is called crowdsourcing.

That whole rat-clawing-over-rat meme has for a long time been a great way to describe agency life. But what Boches suggests is a kind of socialist environment where agencies share personnel and, in that way, clients &#151 which sounds like opening Pandora’s Box (if it hasn’t already been cracked).

His most crowdsourcey comment came in a suggestion for how to make this togetherness thing work: “Fund an organization we called a cloud. One rough scenario: Instead of working for one digital agency, a person would work for the cloud. During their tenure individuals would take on assignments from different agencies, in the process capturing a collective intelligence about best practices from each of the shops and sharing that intelligence with the network.”

A noble call. One group of agencies already doing this are Firstborn, Big Spaceship and Evolution Bureau &#151 which have teamed up to complete some Skittles work. We hear they have more in the works, set to break later this week. So if one thing is true, it’s that agencies can collaborate to get the job done. I suspect this works differently than the agency-vendor relationship and ends up being more siloed to prevent creatives from throwing their awards at one another. Nonetheless, those three shops are of roughly equal size and prominence &#151 and more importantly they have figured out how to work as a cohesive unit.

John Winsor of Victors & Spoils agrees: “While the discussion was far reaching and only scratched the surface of what’s possible, I was inspired by the fact that 20 thought leaders from every different part of the industry were in the room talking about how to collaborate. While this might not seem like a big move, in an industry that’s known for being extremely competitive and ego driven, this was a huge first step. ”

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