Creativity of the Crowd – Pornhub’s Ad Contest


“Do you have what it takes to be the Creative Director of the world’s No.1 adult website?”

Last year, the YouTube of Porn, otherwise called Pornhub, challenged creative enthusiasts to come up with non-pornographic advertising concepts to advertise the platform to a wider audience (Adweek.com). The adult website coined its search for ad material a hunt for SFW (Suitable For Work) advertising. As the contest stated, “Traditionally, porn has been a taboo subject – but the fact is, over 35 million people visit Pornhub.com every day. How do we reach the next 35 million? We need a national advertising campaign that can be channelled through mainstream media (Pornhubcampaign.tumblr.com).” In order to succeed, contestant had to come up with family friendly ideas that still manage to convey the nature of the site (Huhmagazine.co.uk). The person with the best idea would be awarded with a one-year contract to be Pornhub’s creative director.

Through the use of wordplay and subtle imaging, designers and ad creatives all over the globe submitted brilliant and subtle images and videos. One entry displays a bus stop outside of a university campus, displaying a two meter high white poster ad with the copy Where are you getting off?, subtly accompanied with the Pornhub logo. Another image displays typical male and female toilet symbols in combination of male-female, as well as female-female, female-man-female and many others, accompanied with the quote We’ve got it all. Yet another minimalist ad shows the shadow of a bare hand with the text America’s Largest Do-It-Yourself Website.

pornhub-finalists-13-2014 pornhub-finalists-07-2014 pornhub-finalists-11-2014

This crowdsourcing describes a new web-based business model that harnesses the creative solutions of a distributed network of individuals through what amounts to an open call for proposals (Howe, 2006). According to some, the creative industry increasingly relies on crowdsourcing to find solutions to problems. Mau (2004) states that problem solving is no longer the activity of the individual genius, but he is hesitant to a business model in which problem solving is radically distributed beyond the boundaries of professionalism. Clearly, he is not the only one convinced of the power of crowdsourcing over professionalism. As one commenter on the Adweek.com article notes, “So does Pornhub specialize in amateur? Pay for great ideas, work with people or agencies with a track record or success, you might just get great ideas (Adweek.com).” As Brabham (2008) notes, “where design teams and other group collaboration rely on collections of experts, the wise crowd insists on the presence of non-experts, on the presence of amateurs.”

In the case of Pornhub, I think their quest for creative ads is the perfect example of consumer value creation. Even though the contestants might be amateurs, they have come up with some pretty unique ways to communicate the brand to a wider audience. Besides the results of the contest, the company Pornhub has profited from the PR of the competition, it has managed to actively involve its consumers in its business and has found itself a new creative director.

Now, judge for yourself. What do you think of Pornhub’s contests that challenges the crowd to come up with subtle ad’s to reach a wider audience in a family friendly way while still conveying the nature of the website? For one, do you think professional ad agencies could have come up with better ideas than the contest results?

Sources

  • Howe, J. (2006) ‘Crowdsourcing: A Definition’, Crowdsourcing: Tracking the Rise of the Amateur .
  • Adweek
  • Brabham, C. 2008. Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving. The International Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies.
  • Mau, B. with Leonard, J. and The Institute Without Boundaries (2004) Massive Change. New York: Phaidon.
  • Pornhub Campaign Tumblr (SFW)
  • Huhmagazine.co.uk
  • Daily Dot

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