Home Blogs Crowdsourcing crisis: Should ‘Idea Bounty’ be renamed ‘Discount Idea Store’?

Crowdsourcing crisis: Should ‘Idea Bounty’ be renamed ‘Discount Idea Store’?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Here at Anthill, we’ve taken a particular interest in the evolving concept of crowdsourcing, and specifically the growing practice of companies sourcing creative ideas and designs from the crowd online. (In fact, in 2008 we even sourced the cover or our reader-generated Magazine 2.0 print edition through Australian-based crowdsourcing design site 99Designs.) Clearly, crowdsourcing is a bone of contention in the Anthill community. For yet another view, here we publish the thoughts of Paul Cornwell, Partner at creative agency BCM Partnership, on Unilever’s recent use of crowdsourcing website Idea Bounty to source creative ideas for its Peperami brand.

Should ‘Idea Bounty’ be renamed ‘Discount Idea Store’? By Paul Cornwell


You may have read my ‘Crowdsourcing Creativity – Brave Breakthrough or Creative Abuse?’ from October 14. I talked about the fact that through the Idea Bounty website, Unilever has been ‘crowdsourcing’ ideas for its Peperami brand.

Well, here’s a quick update.

At midnight last Friday the Peperami project closed with… wait for it… 1,185 ideas!

And what have Unilever paid for all that creativity? For 1,184 of the ideas? The answer is absolutely nothing! Zero!

The winning idea will earn just $10,000.

This just proves the point I made in my previous post. If we took a stab and guessed that each idea on average had ten hours of work behind it, then that totals 11,850 creative hours.

If we then, as I suggested in my previous post, valued those hours conservatively at $150 per hour, then the value of the time spent on this project could be over $1.7 million! Also, the $10,000 bounty values those creative hours at roughly $0.84 per hour.

That’s less than one percent of its real value, or a 99 percent discount.

This is blatant abuse of the creative community in my view. It dramatically undervalues ideas and creativity.

If I’m right, then why did the creative community submit 1,185 ideas?

Are there that many people who need work or want to be recognised?

Is it simply a case of quantity over quality? Are most of the 1,185 ideas going to be rubbish? Only the team assessing the work can answer that question.

If most of the ideas aren’t of a very high quality, then this process still has people expending creative hours without being paid for their time.

It’s a rip-off and I think Unilever knows that.

Creativity at less than one percent of its market value means that, in this case, Idea Bounty is nothing more than a discount idea store. I can’t imagine that’s what its founders set it up to be.

What do you think?

Paul Cornwell is a Partner the BCM Partnership. This post was first published on BCM’s blog