Crowd-sourcing revolt nicks Crispin Porter + Bogusky

fc_v1_logo2This crowd-sourcing and work-on-spec thing is starting to make my hair hurt, and maybe yours too, but a serious conversation about this issue is critical to our industry and its viability, so here we go again.

Designers have revolted against CP+G for crowdsourcing a logo for Brammo the new electric motorcycle company, and is all over it in a recent post. And again the simple lesson for all designers seems to be  .  .  .  Just Say No!

The post is interesting enough, but scroll down to the comment by John Chen. It is one of the most thoughtful, honest, and searing criticisms I have read on the subject of crowd-sourcing and spec work. And he pins the blame squarely on individual designers and what they have learned, or really haven’t learned, about professional practice.

A short excerpt,

“We all know this sorta stunt has been around forever. Group A knows Group B’s weaknesses, and takes advantage of them. Group B is dysfunctional enough to fall for it every time and whines about it. Lucy, Charlie Brown and her football, right? Kudos to CP+B for tapping an industry of suckers who think too much of themselves, yet cave at every slim chance to have their delicate egos affirmed. If someone were to crowdsource for a doctor to treat their stubbed toe for a chance to win $1,000, would +700 physicians respond and treat at no charge?”.

Ouch. Obviously he, and I, think the answer would be overwhelmingly no. Can you imagine a crowd-sourcing website for doctors, attorneys, accountants or even plumbers.

This is the kind of language the design industry needs to hear. Just Say No!


Here are a couple places to look for background on the issue, AIGA position on spec work, and


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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6 Responses to Crowd-sourcing revolt nicks Crispin Porter + Bogusky

  1. Ted Rex says:

    I recently posted an article about this from on my Design blog:

    As this economy starts heating back up, I see this becoming an ever bigger issue. Why is ours the only industry that does this? Do I have architects design me one room before I agree to hire them? Barbers give me a sample haircut before I agree to sit again? Restaurants bring me out a sample tray before I walk in?

    Now my hair hurts!

    Great blog,


  2. grog says:

    Why didnt Crispin just have someone THERE do it?????

  3. Jeff Wilklow says:

    Great blog, and your comments are right on target.

    A friend from of mine has started a new concept that does the same thing for advertising. “Genius Rocket” invites the world to submit ad concepts for organizations that pay a modest fee to participate. The winner gets paid, but not much relative to standard ad rates. I think the difference is that it will tap into the Web’s interactive nature and engage people who wouldn’t otherwise be involved. And for organizations with little or no ad budget it might get them in the game. But I don’t think it will be a threat to real ad creative.

    • Hi Jeff,
      Gotta be direct old friend. I know about Genius Rocket, and frankly your friend should be ashamed. They are creating a slave market for design services where designers have about as much chance of getting any compensation for their work as I do when buying a lottery ticket. They are making money off the backs of naive designers and cheapskate clients. Whew, that felt good!

  4. Jeff Wilklow says:

    Somehow I knew that would be your reaction even as I tried to defend the concept. I’ve got to admit you make a good point. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves. I’m still trying to figure out what the post-web media and music business models are going to look like.

  5. Pingback: Our Top 10 List of Packaging Stories for 2009 « The Package Unseen

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