New Boulder Agency, Victors & Spoils, Will Specialize in (Gasp) Crowdsourcing

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An article went up late today on The New York Times providing details about a new Boulder agency that’s been in the works over the last several months, as two major Crispin Porter + Bogusky players, former VP/Creative Director Evan Fry and former VP/Executive Director of Strategy and Product Innovation John Winsor, left the agency to explore new entrepreneurial territory.

From The New York Times:

“There’s this real climate of change and openness to something new,” said Claudia Batten, 35, a former executive at Massive, the video game advertising company, who is chief operating officer at Victors and Spoils. The agency will seek ideas from outside sources, she said, while an internal “creative department is curating and directing that crowd.”

Chief creative officer is Evan Fry, 39, who had been a vice president and creative director at the Boulder office of Crispin Porter. “Does the world need another advertising agency?” Mr. Fry said, then continued: “No. But it needs a new agency model.”

The other ex-Crispin Porterite at Victors and Spoils is the chief executive, John Winsor, 50, who had been vice president and executive director for strategy and product innovation there.

From the Victors & Spoils site:

Why are we doing this? The way we see it, companies need an alternative to both current ad agencies as well as current crowdsourcing platforms. One that offers the strategic direction, engagement and relationship management that agencies deliver today, but one that also delivers the engagement, cultural relevance, results and return on investment that crowdsourcing {if managed and directed well} can deliver.

Crowdsourcing? Really? Yes. Current factors such as radical transparency, the consumer’s demand to be more involved and a growing cost consciousness regarding clients’ budgets have all made crowdsourcing especially timely for today’s marketers. But it’s not all roses yet. The crowdsourcing paradigm can be pretty unruly for most clients. The number of possible solutions created and the effort to keep things on strategy for a brand can be overwhelming

Enter a new agency model. Victors & Spoils {that’s us}. We feel like an ad agency. But we work like a crowdsourcing platform. At the core of our agency is our creative department. A creative department made of everyone from art directors and copywriters to strategists and producers who come together to solve strategic problems. A global digital community that will not only be rewarded for the solutions they develop (both individually and as a group) but also for participating in the community itself.

We’re as excited as anyone to see if this will work, especially in light of the industry’s natural rebellion to crowdsourcing thus far – and the fact that all of this is happening in Boulder. Think you have what it takes to get in on it and join their creative department? Apply within.


thank you for posting this guys.

A somewhat unique business model, but risky. Anyone can copy it. You can have hundreds of these in a months time. So what was once unique is now a commodity. Can creative be a commodity?

I am a firm believer that businesses that focus on certain skill sets will always win. Clients pay us for our knowledge.

looks like they crowdsourced their website. I’ll give them 1 year to ride the latest little trend, before falling apart and resurfacing elsewhere in separate pieces.

I dont get this. What is stopping the client from just going to the talent the next job. Where is the equity in your creative ideas, when none of the ideas are in-house..seems very risky.

“Crowdsourcing the Tone and Foundation of Our Company via a Logo.” How is a company supposed to trust a company that can’t come up with their own tone and foundation of the company. To me this set up isn’t new, StrawberryFrog does a similar model, keeping trim and small and using a lot of freelancers. I guess the only difference is making the projects a contest instead of seeking out a person with a particular skill or talent that fits the project and the client’s needs.

It’ll be interesting to see where this all heads. They’ve already started with their logo process. One of my favs – especially b/c of the misspelling.

i like the watermarked corbis image on the homepage.
stay classy.

I agree with Follow The Fallow Fellow. What saddens me about the whole crowdsourcing concept is that designers have fallen into the trap. Call it what you want but it’s OUTSOURCING people! We are now competing with people in underdeveloped countries who don’t really have the opportunities to do projects like these and are willing to take whatever they are offered monetarily. These people may not also understand the repercussions of what they are participating in.

Whatever happened to the value of the idea? Whatever happened to valuing talent and skills that have taken designers many years and hard work to refine? Is that not worth anything anymore? In my opinion what’s happening here is we are giving corporations the message that these things hold no value. Yet these companies that all of a sudden can’t afford to pay (a growing cost consciousness regarding clients’ budgets have all made crowdsourcing especially timely for today’s marketers) are paying their CEO’s and executives 300 to 600% more than their average employee. How is this empowering or advancing our industry? As it is our industry is still grossly misunderstood and undervalued. Listen, I know it’s hard out there but in my view this is not the solution. This is just another group of people tapping into an “opportunity” to make a quick $. Welcome to the new wonderful global economy people: we are now competing with “designers” in high-school, China, and anyone with the right software for that matter…

“We are now competing with “designers” in high-school, China, and anyone with the right software for that matter…”

Whoa. Crazy. They can’t do solid work? We’re going to have to step up our creative? I agree with some of your points but this is quite the statement. Everything’s global now. Get used to it.

“It’ll be interesting to see where this all heads. They’ve already started with their logo process. One of my favs – especially b/c of the misspelling.”

Woah, those logos almost make me want to think this is some sort of put-on.

You have got to be kidding. This is spec work wrapped up in a trendy package. How are they any better than all of the companies asking for spec?

Plus, leave it to ad people to get on a trend that started years ago. So typical.

A lot of these comments seem to be stemming from insecurity or just fear in general. Let’s see how this plays out before we jump to any conclusions.

It’s funny how you have to make it personal right away becuase I’ve lived in 3 diffferent countries, am bilingual and happen to do work for an international BPO company that has offices in 17 countries. So, yes I’m familiar with what a global economy looks like. You took this one line out of contex. ANYONE can come up with a “solid” idea or two the point is once we the creative industry leaders make it common practice to start paying $3.00 an hour for a logo-it kind of hurts the industry no? What happens to freelance designer rates and etc, etc?

Also, if you are so used to the global economy yourself-why did that statement SHOCK you so much? I know Argentinean software engineers who started working straight out of high school for an American company in Argentina-do you know what they get paid? Do you know that companies pay accountants in the Philippines about $1.00 an hour? Do you see where this is going? So why not designers next?

And just to clarify-I’m talking about American comapnies based in America who have laid people off and outsourced the work to these countries-not American companies with operations in those countries. Also, I’m just trying to offer ANOTHER prespective, it is possible that good things may come out of this whole concept. We just have to be aware of the possible avenues this may take us down.

Crowdsourcing reduces price which reduces value. Agencies that are riding this wave say they can filter all the sourced material to pick the best of the crop, but really it’s like spinning a wheel and saying, “that one”. There’s no value in that. It’s a cop-out for not having to hire a valuable creative person or team.

I need some car repairs. I wonder if I can crowdsource the job?

So, what would clients be paying for exactly? Hold a contest and pay $1000 for a logo and then sell it to your clients for $7,500? Cool.

Oh, and Amanda, you are my hero.

Really there is NO strategy in crowd sourcing. How can decent work be created if the designer has no familiarity with the brand? Everybody has heard this a million times, a brand is not a logo. Seems to me this is the classic “looks pretty, but has substance behind it” creative approach. Just saying, and I’m a designer.

sorry I meant, “looks pretty, but has NO substance behind it”

This is a new, actually a copied low, low for the industry. What a bunch of scum.

as long as this is what we’re competing with, nobody is going to lose their job:

Wow, on post after post, Amanda really comes off as a grouchy, terrified nag.

It’s really simple. If you don’t like the terms, don’t take the job.

This will all come out in the wash. If crowdsourcing is doomed to fail like you all think, it will do so soon enough and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

But if it works, and clients get good ideas for less money, then maybe we’re not “worth” as much as we think we are.

It’s all supply and demand. All the Amandas of the world and cry about how they can’t make a living because people are ripping them off, but if there’s less demand and a larger supply of creatives needing work, the price drops to an appropriate level. And it works the other way when demand goes up

I know creatives hate math, but that’s how it works.

Why would a client do business with an agency that doesn’t respect creativity enough to pay for it??? Do we live in a society that is that “bottom line” driven that we would ask someone to work for free? Outsourcing is one thing.. but crowdsourcing.. where the majority of work is uncompensated.. is completely criminal.

Agencies do uncompensated work all the time – they’re called pitches. Why should it be any different for creatives?

You decide whether you want to pitch or not. If you do, you know ahead of time it’s for free and how much you’ll get paid if your work is chosen. And if they like your work, you get paid.

I just don’t see what all the faux-outrage is about.

Now if you want to argue whether clients really get better work from crowdsourcing, that remains to be seen. But the basic business premise of crowdsourcing isn’t anything revolutionary.

Chill Out-
Name calling and cliche after cliche. What a guy. Go back to school and learn how to have a real debate and then MAYBE you can come back with something substantial to contribute to this blog.

“Chill Out”, why must you come off a sexist in your comment by calling Amanda a “a grouchy, terrified nag”? You’re questioning creatives’ understanding of math, but I question your knowledge of outsourcing. Yes, there’s a part of outsourcing that goes along with supply and demand and price. But there’s a part of it that only serves those desperate enough to do work very cheaply in the short term and those few corporate shareholders at the top who get all the margin in the long term.

And “Jesus”, you should realize that this what Amanda means when she talks about China. Do you know that there are Chinese workers that live in container ships en route to Mexico who make souvenirs along the way to sell to US tourists cheaper than the poor Mexicans on the streets? I think certain creatives and designers who read the Denver Egotist need to do some research on business process outsourcing and globalization before ranting on intelligent comments like Amanda’s…

Chill Out,

With PITCHING to a client, a dedicated professional has the option to risk working for free for the possibility to win an account that they have passion for. And to obtain the income that can sustain one’s business.

If you participate in CROWDSOURCING, you’re begging for the lowest denominator of a salary. Any impersonable work that’s thrown towards the crowdsourcing pool . The “talent” in this pool could run the gamut from any newbie amateur with no experience to any seasoned professional falling on hard times.

There is no thought or care put into a client’s work if it is run through the crowdsourcing wash. How could Victor & Spoils treat an industry it relies on so heavily to do it’s work for them like this and not expect a backlash?

Is it just irony that the definition of SPOILS is “to diminish or destroy the value and the quality of”?

I agree with you, Chill Out, that if it’s doomed to fail it will. And I truly believe crowdsourcing will.

p.s., Amanda has the guts to stand by her opinion and use her name. Apparently you don’t.

Those logos rule

Chris, you’re wrong.

With PITCHING a client, someone has the option to risk working for free for the possibility to win work. (If you think all agencies only pitch clients they’re “passionate” for, you’re naive.)

With CROWDSOURCING, someone has the exact same option to risk working for free for the possibility to win work.

The reason Deutsch won VW was because they were desperate for the work and agreed to take a lower fee. Goodby had plenty of work and wouldn’t discount. Please explain how that’s any different than a freelancer doing the same thing?

So what if “lesser” talent throws their ideas in? They won’t win. It’s no skin off the “better” talent that also choose to participate.

Who says there’s no thought or care put into crowdsourced work? If the people are good and want to win, of course there will be thought and care put into it. Do freelancers put no thought or care into the work they do?

Get over your entitlement about how much you “should” get paid for something. You just all sound like terrified creatives who are afraid to compete.



1 a : plunder taken from an enemy in war or from a victim in robbery : LOOT b : public offices made the property of a successful party — usually used in plural c : something valuable or desirable gained through special effort or opportunism or in return for a favor — usually used in plural
2 a : SPOLIATION, PLUNDERING b : the act of damaging : HARM, IMPAIRMENT
3 : an object of plundering : PREY
4 : earth and rock excavated or dredged
5 : an object damaged or flawed in the making
synonyms SPOIL, PLUNDER, BOOTY, PRIZE, LOOT mean something taken from another by force or craft. SPOIL, more commonly SPOILS, applies to what belongs by right or custom to the victor in war or political contest <the spoils of political victory>. PLUNDER applies to what is taken not only in war but in robbery, banditry, grafting, or swindling <a bootlegger’s plunder>. BOOTY implies plunder to be shared among confederates <thieves dividing up their booty>. PRIZE applies to spoils captured on the high seas or territorial waters of the enemy <the wartime right of seizing prizes at sea>. LOOT applies especially to what is taken from victims of a catastrophe <picked through the ruins for loot>.

“Get over your entitlement about how much you “should” get paid for something. “

Chill Out, do you not work? Do you skate by life without a job?

Of course I feel I should get paid for something! I feel I should be paid fairly for the career that I work hard at to feed my family and to pay my mortgage.

Your telling me that you would be happy if your career turned into a lottery? If your odds of earning a paycheck were flooded in the masses of creatives and non-creatives trying to earn a minuscule payout?

As of right now, V&S’s first crowdsourcing contest has 422 entries for a $1000 grand prize. I’ve never known someone to pitch a client against 421 other candidates. This type of competition does not spawn quality, it spawns quantity.

I’m not afraid of competition. That’s what this entire industry has always been about. Competition spurs talent and drive to become better at what you do. But the reality is that you have to earn a living to be able to do what you love. And crowdsourcing does not do that.

One last thing, Chill Out. I do have passion for the work that I do for my clients, and that is why I still love doing what I do. If someone doesn’t have that passion for their work then the work suffers. I strongly suggest to those that treat a creative gig without passion and enjoyment to find another career that will make them happy.

These people make stealing intellectual property sound okee dokee.

I hope all creative talent understand that boycotting parasites like these three will prevent them from killing our trade.


Chris, what’s “fair” to you?

If it “fair” that you get paid $1000/day when teachers who are actually doing something good for the world get paid one quarter that much?

Go bitch to some scientist who’s trying to cure cancer how it’s “fair” that you make $125k a year for coming up with solid calls-to-action on your shitty DM piece while they lose their jobs due to university cutbacks.

I bet there were a million typewriter repairmen who sat around bitching how it wasn’t “fair” that no one would pay them what they’re worth after computers came out.

Would you show up somewhere and give a 30-minute speech for $50,000? Probably. Would Bill Clinton? Hell no – not when his speaking fee is three times that. So what something it “worth” is completely subjective. And since 422 people so far think it’s worth $1000 to do a logo – then who are you to bitch to them that it’s not?

Jesus, get over yourselves people. You’re not entitled to a certain amount of money just because it says “art director” or “copywriter” on your business card. You all sound like home sellers who stick to their over-inflated home prices because they’re SURE that’s what it’s worth – even though no one is buying. Here’s a hint – you’re worth what people will pay.

To me, the underlying message from all of this is DEFLATION. Businesses such as V&S are a symptom of the greater problems in an ailing global economy. Upper management will likely benefit from this model, but the majority will be hurt because of massive wage distortions. Clients will love it because they will pay less, and in the future expect this to be the new norm. The problem of course it that it is a self-feeding downward spiral for the advertising industry in general. It’s essentially what Wall Mart did to small town USA.

Wow, Chill Out. You are reeeeeally stretching for some validation to support your argument.

You are making assumptions on what type of salary I make and what type of work that I do. You are FAR off in your assumptions my friend.

You’re trying to make it sound as if I’m afraid of this crowdsourcing experiment when I really am not. I am angry, not afraid.

Don’t try to compare me to a scientist who cures cancer. That’s just ridiculous.

I hate to point it out too, but all the bitching is coming from your direction. I’m expressing my opinion, while you are resorting to slander.

Thanks and bye.


They will fail. They are ad men, and ad men don’t appreciate design, just go to the logo contest and you will see what I mean. The entries that are just a flash in the pan idea or that are completely too literal are the most popular with Evan. He seems like the kind of guy that would sell his mother.

I have a real problem with the Egotist not speaking out against this. What happened to all the outrage on spec work? How is this different?

We’ve all heard the ‘Infinite Monkey Theorem’. The basic idea being that if an infinite number of monkeys randomly punch keys on typewriters – one of them will ultimately produce Shakespeare. I believe that the same holds true for this concept of relying on anonymous contributors to create communication solutions. If you bring enough people into the process, you might get lucky and stumble on something that can be used as a creative solution, but I would strongly argue that there is absolutely no genius to it.

When the job pays peanuts, you get monkeys.

“When the job pays peanuts, you get monkeys.”

Tell that to all the agencies who, a couple years ago, refused to go after any account under $1 million and now regularly pitch clients with budgets of $250,000. (I know – the last two agencies I worked at are now doing it.)

It’s no different for freelancers now.

Supply and demand.

@Chill Out

I agree. We live in a world of shrinking budgets, and all the more reason why every penny has to work harder. Nothing should be left to chance. So, if I were that ($250,000) client I would surely choose a full service agency to work on my business rather than ‘the monkey’ experiment. No question about it.


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