Skip to main content

BlogCivilized Crowdsourcing News & Views

How To Escape The Echo Chamber In The Creative Review Process

By News

Recently, Adam Bailey, member of the IHAF Group, shared a LinkedIn post inviting discussion on Proofing and Creative Review Process.

Appropriately, many of the comments in the thread address the proofing/QC need. Having seen the calamities that come with overlooked typos and incomplete or incorrect information, there is no question: proofing pays for itself. Of course, that activity tends to happen downstream in the sequence, just ahead of outright publishing, posting, emailing, uploading, broadcasting. Of course, there are challenges earlier in the process, as well.

Agencies are idea machines, certainly regarding projects aimed at new business pitches and campaign presentations. Talents are marshaled, strategies are defined, ideas and concepts are generated in volume, then, say three ideas are culled and refined to represent the agency’s product. As a rule, agencies are coached to present only their “best thinking.”

Which Ideas Advance? Who Makes The Call?

ECD? Planner? Account Supervisor? CEO? Agencies tend to be defined by personalities and temperaments. It’s no surprise that the filtering process gets, well, personal. And territorial. At times, even heated. To avoid this situation, agencies often try to establish a formal creative review process, with assignment of final say, definition of evaluation criteria, and often, no small degree of client mind-reading.

Many agencies struggle to devise and then stick with a formal creative review. First, in the press of the typical agency pace, fitting a review stage into the workflow often feels like an interruption, and tends to require some form of coercion. Second, bringing a level of discipline and objectivity to the process, while agreed to, is often very difficult to achieve. Biases are always tricky to neutralize. Passions can tip the scale. And group-think is almost always unavoidable, however sincere the team’s dedication is to objectivity. The echo-chamber affect is difficult to recognize and overcome.

What About A Third-Party Reviewer?

Assuming confidentiality, wouldn’t it be useful to have a trusted outside review panel? One that can deliver multiple evaluations. One that is peopled with experienced creatives and strategists who can respect a brief and a brand. One that by its nature is outside the echo chamber, even accepting that any and all recommendations will still be subjective. One that will move swiftly, without sacrificing your momentum.

That’s Boomerang. Your instant creative review board.

Boomerang flips the core Boom Ideanet creative model. Rather than brands and agencies supplying a brief to generate ideas against, they supply a brief AND ideas. Instead of acting as creators, Boom CDs/strategists act as reviewers. They bring a wealth of talent and experience to the process. They’re outside the echo chamber. If there’s group-think to overcome, it’s simply category mindfulness. It’s as close to objectivity as you can get.

The agency gets back a set of critiques that its team can use to cull, prioritize, even refine ideas for presentation. The net effect provides teams a higher degree of confidence in its recommendations.

Download Your Free Boomerang Creative Review Checklist

Boomerang review criteria reflects best practices, shaped by industry experts like Merry Baskin and WARC. (Scroll down the WARC page for the title: How To Evaluate Creative Work.)

You can download the Boomerang criteria here. It’s free. Well, we do charge you the nominal fee of sharing your contact info.

You can learn more about Boomerang here.

Dear Ad Agency and In-House Agency Creative Leaders:

By News

How To Deal With Seven Universal Gripes And Other Sticky Issues

You will read this article as a blatant pitch for a new way of organizing flexible work structures in the agency world. Independent shops and in-house agencies are battling traditional creative challenges, sampled in the sticky notes above. As always. Fortunately, for those willing to shed the inertia of old structures and explore new ones, today there are non-traditional resources to engage — without giving up control or giving in to someone else’s ego/agenda.

Boom Ideanet represents a new kind of work model; a nimble resource designed to adjust to the ever-changing demands on a creative department. Open your mind and we’ll show you how the model adapts to address many of the challenges indicated in that array of sticky notes above. (Of course, there are other options for external talent strategies which we’ll also mention as a nod to journalistic integrity. Feel free to download a creative resources infographic here.)

The header visual above is lifted from a Digiday article by Yuyu Chen, published Oct 26, 2017. The article was ostensibly about the gripes agencies have with Facebook. But in the body of the article, the image represented above is featured, capturing sticky notes agency teams jotted down confessing to more general challenges they are facing today. (In spite of the article’s title, Facebook has nothing to do with addressing them!)


Problem: “Breaking with tradition – willingness to try new things.”

Solution: Even though the audience for both Digiday and anyone likely to see this article in LinkedIn is deeply rooted in the creative world, we tend to resist experimentation.

We get protective of our organizational structure. We feel like any outreach will reflect poorly on our own capacity to originate ideas and solutions. We believe only familiar resources are trustworthy when we finally do admit to needing a boost. We tend to think we’ll lose control the minute we invite outside thinking. You are henceforth invited to overthrow those ingrained ways of thinking. Boom.

Problem: “Agency Ops are a mess. Clients don’t want to pay for our inefficiency and it gets in the way of doing best work.”

Solution: Staff smartly. Reward properly. Set up work flow and resource management tools. Know who has capacity. (Try a tool like Bric.) And have a flex model poised to engage — say with Boom (or Boss or Aquent or Creative Circle or your favorite freelancers). You’ll be more efficient, more resilient, more nimble, more productive. Your clients will be getting more than they pay for and you’ll have the time and the energy and the leadership to do your best work.

Problem: “Smaller budgets, faster timelines and having to think/work more strategically even faster as the landscape changes.”

Solution: Like so many of these perfectly reasonable “gripes,” change is the landscape. Run a tighter, leaner in-house team and set up an external SWAT team with an endless supply of quick response talent through Boom. It’s designed for change.

Problem: “Creative burn-out through inefficient client relationships & pitches.”

Solution: Almost every creative department pushes its staff to the limit. Late nights. Long weekends. Clients (even while your reason for being) can change deliverables, briefs, timelines, not to mention change their minds; they can demand fresh takes on recycled projects … and much more. No wonder exhaustion comes with the territory. A model like Boom’s offers teams instant relief. Engage its vetted, disciplined network for an injection of fresh thinking to reinvigorate projects, disrupt group think, or just stir things up.

Problem: “Hiring open-form skill sets to help future-proof our work force.”

Solution: Dip into an on-demand network like that of Boom Ideanet to access skill sets and specialized channel or category experience to generate concepts and even execute elements, while you assess on-going need or recruit the particular talent required.

Problem: “Time and resources combined with expertise.”

Solution: This one gets at the fundamental problem, doesn’t it? Agencies and in-house teams like the staffing model. You learn the business. You bring a discipline or set of experiences to bear. But even that has limits when workload exceeds on-hand resources. A vetted network like that of Boom offers an off-line alternative. There when you need it. Not adding to overhead when you don’t. PetSmart cultivated a ready pool of on-brand thinkers ready to leap into action whenever needed via Boom. See next gripe.

Problem: “Organizing an agency workforce to meet the demands of continually changing campaign structures.”

Solution: Flex with changing demand by trying a network model like Boom Ideanet. Easier than freelancers, way more firepower for slightly more cost.

PetSmart’s in-house agency did it for campaigns and production; tripling creative output on the same budget. All it took was a forward-thinking leaders (like you!) CMO (John Alpaugh) and ECD (Shane McCall).

Too much selling? Yeah. But breaking with tradition sometimes requires breaking the rules. Boom. #boomyouragency #boomyourbrand

Signed Swood

PS: Again, to download a free infographic on six creative resource options, go here.

Boom RSS Feed: WSJ Article On New Apps for Freelancers

By News

NOTE: We have literally copied and pasted this article from the Wall Street Journal because it’s describing some truly useful tools for freelancers. (Links rarely work without a subscription, but here it is: )

Freelancers of all stripes are becoming a huge part of the workforce. And software companies are scrambling to help them do their job.

They’re taking tech products once designed for small companies and reworking them to serve the needs of solo operators. In many cases, this software targets corners of the freelance world—like health care and taxes—that work very differently than they do for other small businesses and that freelancers have long had to figure out on their own.

“The more prevalent this way of working becomes, the more we’ll see apps or companies emerging to make it easier,” says Diane Mulcahy, author of “The Gig Economy” and a professor on the topic at Babson College. “If you’re in the gig economy, you’re not just doing your primary job, you’re also doing back-office work, invoicing, paying quarterly taxes, managing social media, doing marketing, business development, figuring out your own health-care and retirement benefits.”

The potential market is huge. Depending on which report you read, people working in the gig economy—alternatively called freelancers, flex workers, consultants or independent workers—will comprise 30% to 50% of the U.S. labor force by 2020. Although often described as a monolith, gig workers are as diverse as the traditional workforce.

Some take on lower-paid on-demand tasks for companies like Uber, TaskRabbit or Postmates. Others are highly paid, specialized consultants who use niche skills on complex projects for large clients with big budgets. Still others work in creative fields, doing everything from commodity jobs such as churning out content for a website to higher-paid contracts like designing a new brand.

Here’s a look at some of the new software on offer and what it can do for freelancers.

Untangling taxes: Tax rules for solo workers are quite different than those for a limited-liability company or other type of small business. Expenses are tracked differently, for instance, and different write-offs are permitted. Now established makers of tax software—as well as new entrants—are reworking existing products or devising new ones to handle those specialized regulations.

One of the biggest names getting involved is Intuit . The financial-software giant beta-tested QuickBooks Self-Employed in 2014 and formally launched it in 2015. The program provides information and forms that gig workers need to manage their finances and comply with various tax requirements. It is also specifically designed primarily for smartphones to accommodate gig workers, especially drivers and delivery people, who are frequently on the go.

In its August earnings, Intuit said there are now 390,000 subscribers, quadrupling over the past year. It expects that growth to continue.

Handling the books: As with taxes, freelancers face different challenges handling accounting and billing than startups do.

Wave, an app and traditional software offering, has run marketing campaigns targeted at industries where freelancers tend to work, such as photography and web design. When people sign on to the service, which also covers smaller startups, they see information specific to their industry when they’re getting set up, and get suggestions about what various forms should include. For example, a photographer might see usage-rights offerings as a feature to add to their invoice.

Treating health care: With health-care coverage, small businesses have an advantage over solo workers: They can get group insurance, which carries a discount over policies for individuals and covers all employees. Freelancers don’t have access to those policies, and must go to insurance providers and see what they offer—typically policies with higher premiums and no discounts.

Stride Health raised $13 million in 2015 to build a platform targeted specifically at gig workers who don’t get health insurance. The software sifts through available offerings to recommend the plan that gives freelancers the most bang for the buck, and then walks them through the process in much the same way that a human-resources staffer at an employer might do for an employee.

For some solo entrepreneurs, the software delivers some of the benefits of working at a traditional business. The company has joined with some of the largest names in the gig economy, including Uber, Postmates and TaskRabbit, to aggregate their gig workers to get group discounts from insurance providers.

Organizing projects: Scheduling can become a big headache for solo workers, who frequently take on multiple jobs at the same time and don’t have the option to spread them among employees.

Completo, a to-do app originally aimed at corporate executives, helps those juggling different projects maximize productivity and minimize stress.

For instance, the company lets gig workers break a large project into smaller steps to help them organize many assignments at once, and offers the ability to set progressive reminders (such as reminding them five days before something is due, and then the day before). The company has also updated its marketing to specifically target freelancers, with language about juggling multiple “side hustles” and working with a variety of teams on different projects. The company says downloads are 10 times higher—from 100 downloads a week to more than 1,000 a week—since making these changes.

Ms. Westervelt is a writer in Oakland, Calif. Email

Diversity: Your Surprise Button

By News

Disruption. Reinvention. Transformation. Those are the buzz words that have shaped much of the editorial in the ad agency biz over the last few years. Rightfully so. A curious force that goes by the name Digital has been reshaping every facet of the trade for more than a decade. And continues to do so. But it was at a big trade conference hosted in the name of transformation (4A’s 2016) that another buzz word got a grip on the conversation: DIVERSITY. And it’s still buzzy months later.

The issue of diversity surfaced in the wake of too many Mad Men scenarios in too many upper management circles in too many geographies, typically expressed in gender inequality and sexual harassment, ethnic tensions and lookalike cultures (rather than lookalike audiences).

Let’s agree: it is ironic that an industry so shaped by culture, so reflective of culture, so immersed in culture, lags so far behind culture in erasing boundaries, shattering stereotypes and rising above exploitation.

Ali Merifield has wise words regarding diversity in her May 11, 2017, column in Campaign US:

“Diverse teams mean people coming together from different backgrounds, experiences, cultures and educational baselines.” – Ali Merifield

Notice she doesn’t even mention gender or ethnicity, which are the diversity hot buttons. Perhaps that’s by design. Ms. Merifield’s wisdom is in going beyond the headlines to get at the real values that make diversity worth seeking:

• celebrating individual perspective,

• stimulating remixes of culture and cultures,

• dissolving echo chambers,

• welcoming discomfort.

Of course, agencies can pursue diversity in staffing and even approach the mix of thinking it’s meant to deliver. But the aim of diversity will be scuttled if clients do not also accept or demand diverse thinking themselves. Clients have been known to train agencies to turn over strategies and ideas that fall into a comfort zone, in the name of branding. But even brands languish that seek stasis rather than dynamism. Clients, like their agencies, are subject to their own echo chambers, even as they often do lip service to seeking an expansive world of ideas.

To borrow from David Krakauer of Santa Fe Institute, we need to be open to SURPRISE. In this algorithm-driven digital world, we are growing accustomed to being served up films, songs, books and products that match our preferences. In social platforms we immerse ourselves in virtual gatherings of like-minded “friends.” Adjacency is efficient and comforting and can even be interesting. For a while. But finally, it grows boring.

“The tools we now possess, which are so incredible, should be allowing us to have freedoms that are unprecedented.” – David Krakauer

Algorithms end up narrowing our field of view when in fact, they should be instruments of surprise. And frankly, for the foreseeable future, it is the “human algorithm” that promises to be the most creative force we can imagine. As it always has been. We can all benefit from a surprise button as we surf through experiences, both virtual and real, all the while becoming more creative rather than more silo’d. Frankly diversity is not merely the just goal of enterprises and organizations, it makes the world a far more interesting – surprising – place!

Diversity Is That Surprise Button

We may achieve diversity by staffing diverse talents. But we should be doing everything we can to elicit additional points of view. Even ideas that are off-center can lead to a fresh place. Clients should revel in surprise, step out of the comfort zone, see where discomfort takes them. Agencies should engineer themselves to generate surprise. Diversity will deliver, assuming we have the will to pursue it.

“Championing diversity won’t be easy, but it will take you into new directions you didn’t expect.” – Ali Merifield

Boom Ideanet is one of those new directions: An on demand diversity resource that delivers creative thinking from trusted outsiders in a model you’d never expect to generate so much value. In-house agencies, agencies, brands can press the surprise button by engaging Boom. Diversity by design. Boom connects a network of talented people from across the geographic and cultural spectrum. Members hail from 25 U.S. states and 17 countries. While the network is vetted and members sign non-disclosure agreements, they are never asked to identify their gender or ethnicity. When they accept creative challenges they are asked to respect brand guidelines, but more importantly, they are expected to dig into their individual orientations, leverage their cultural experiences — and differences — to create original answers and offer up unexpected solutions. It’s a plug-and-play creative model predicated entirely on diversity.

Diversity, finally, becomes a kind of disruption. Which takes us full circle.


Need a Great Idea? Breathe Genius.

By News

“To have a great idea,” Thomas Edison – possibly America’s greatest inventor – proposed, “have a lot of them.”

“If you want to have good ideas,” Linus Pauling – renown scientist and only person to ever win two unshared Nobel Prizes – recommended, “you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.”

Granted, this sound advice should be taken with a grain of 21st century salt. While these may have been two of history’s greatest minds, neither gentleman invented Uber…or, for that matter, even just “the Uber of something”; nor did either live in an era when they could’ve merely proposed, “Ideas? Easy. Google it.”

And, thus, following such facile and modern-day direction one discovers the wisdom of Wily Walnut and “10 Things to Do When You Need Ideas Fast!” Mr. Walnut’s initial sage nugget:

1. Breathe and get into state! You are a genius. 

Attention Uberpreneur: Don’t overestimate this glowing assessment; the same man who deemed you a genius felt it necessary to remind you to breathe straight out of the gate.

Speaking from experience, one need not be brilliant to remember to breathe or even to realize that if we all were, indeed, geniuses then the distinction and the very term to describe it never would’ve been necessary. Suddenly, to err is no longer human, to be a genius is.

“You are a genius, so move, breathe and act like one! It’s easy for someone like you to generate ideas – you are an Ideas Person!” 

God bless Google…not only am a genius, I’m an Ideas Person!

If only we could believe everything we read on the internet…if only more people realized we couldn’t…yet, even though we know better, it’d be difficult to deny our current collective philosophy – More! Better! Faster! Cheaper! – aligns far more fluidly with Wily’s wisdom than with Edison’s and Pauling’s disciplined, proven, and synonymous approaches.

Of course, we’re all mostly defined by the state of our era and its inherent limitations…well, most of us “geniuses” are, anyway. True genius defies supposed restraints, persistently asks “What if…” and eventually topples barriers, expands horizons, and recalibrates the limitations that define the rest of us. Be that as it may, and for all we owe the true genius of Thomas Edison (1847-1932) and Linus Pauling (1901-1994), neither esteemed mastermind benefitted from the abundant technology that defines our era.

To put it in perspective, the output of a 1950 forty-hour workweek only took 29 hours to duplicate in 1990. By 2015 that same production could be accomplished in merely eleven hours. It took the first forty years to improve by eleven hours, yet over the next twenty-five years we progressed to the point where the total output could be completed in only eleven hours. Eleven. Hours. Awesome…in it’s purest sense…intoxicatingly so…which might explain why we began to confuse this drastic and seemingly unfathomable advancement for our own personal evolution. We have the technology…we have the capability… we are better than we were before…better, stronger, faster. At everything.

Linds Redding – a former Art Director and unfortunate cancer casualty – kept a journal in which he attributed the origin of our misconstrued evolution and false feeling of bionic prowess to the moment when “the bean counters upstairs quickly realized we could just do three times as many jobs in the same amount of time, and make them three times as much money.” 

“Time moved on…technology overran, and transformed the creative industry like it did most others. Exciting new tools. Endless new possibilities. Pressing new deadlines… As fast as we could pin an idea on the wall, some red-faced account manager in a bad suit would run away with it. Where we used to rely on taking a break and ‘stretching the eyes’ to allow us to see the wood from the trees…we now fell back on experience and gut-feel. It worked most of the time, but nobody is infallible…generally standards plummeted.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (though, like Edison & Pauling, they recognize the power of mass input) to detect an indirect correlation between the technological revolution – the supreme intellect it’s bestowed each of us – and these plummeting standards. Of course, when considering the billion dollar valuations of companies at the forefront of this revolution, it’s hard to blame the bean counters, or damn-near anyone, for putting their standards on hold, or even up for sale, in an attempt to cash-in.

And thus driven by a desire to capture a unicorn, fortified by time-slaying technological tools, and tempered by a constantly imminent deadline…if we don’t do it someone else will…we prioritize ‘faster’ convinced speed will breed ‘more’ and ‘better’…or, at the very least, compensate for them. We debunk and dismiss Edison’s and Pauling’s wisdom as outdated advice from a seemingly prehistoric time handicapped by analog thought.

In the process we handicap ourselves and relinquish the true power technology has bestowed on us – tools that improve our vision to mine, recognize, and develop the best ideas; ideas that move us collectively forward while maintaining a set of standards to optimize that momentum. Otherwise, as Mr. Redding noted, “That one thing that we prize and value above all else – the idea – turns out to be just another plastic gizmo or widget to be touted and traded.” It was this very assessment that led Mr. Redding to the sobering revelation: “I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.” 

Everything starts with an idea; to have a great one, have a lot of them. Armed with ample ideas you can do what you do best, whatever that is…like Edison, Pauling, or even Redding…to make something ‘better,’ ‘faster,’ ‘smarter.’ Earnestly addressing these goals fosters palpable value – something with far greater reach and lasting impact than ‘cheaper.’

Then, take a deep breath and get into state, you’re truly a genius.

-Gooch Denice, Relationship Director at Boom Ideanet

Infographic: A Snapshot Of The Idea Energy That Fuels Boom Ideanet

By Blog, News

Who Powers The Ideanet?

Boom is not an unidentified mass. We’re a network of vetted, creative problem-solvers. Each with a signed NDA. Our free agent network is more selective, more motivated, more eager, more rewarded and rewarding.

If you have creative energy to spare, you want to enhance your experience, be exposed to new brands and new channels, find out more here. And consider creating a profile here.

Welcome to Anywhere

By Blog


“Good Ideas Can Come From Anywhere.”

Yeah, you’ve heard that one before. The claim has champions and detractors. Consider the LinkedIn posting by Jeremy Feldman in the Creative Directors Group, referring to Bob Hoffman’s essay on the “Devaluation of Creativity.” And, as I shared in Mr. Feldman’s comment stream, this argument is an endless loop. Both sides will endure, which is as it should be. But I’ll still weigh in.

Creative Directors get defensive about the source of ideas. Understandable, perhaps. Traditionally, agencies have had the corner on creativity, owning the conception and execution of great ideas. That may once have been the state of affairs. I dare say, no longer.

Believe me, there are great CDs and great creative agencies; agencies who have built hugely successful careers and businesses on the backs of great ideas. But great ideas are rare, even at those shops. Index the curve of idea quality for even the most notable agencies, and I’m confident you’ll see peaks and valleys, if not outright rises and falls. Not even the most renowned and disciplined creative talent can pull off a category-defining or brand-shaping bit of brilliance at will.

That’s why, perhaps even secretly, creative directors would love to have an endless source of ideas: A trustable source of fresh thinking to sift through, to finesse, to riff on. A resource that starts off being close-in, while also stretching the boundaries, manages to be both fresh and disciplined, as well as honoring a brief and respecting the brand.

Imagine: An “anywhere” that CDs can tap into any time.

Thanks to technology and idle creative capacity, anywhere is everywhere; as a network of vetted talent, distributed across the States and around the globe, designed to work with agencies and CDs. Not against them.

  • CDs don’t have to give up control.
  • CDs don’t have to abandon the brand or embrace user-generated content.
  • CDs don’t have to exploit the talent or break the bank.
  • CDs do get to do what they do: identify, refine, extend, enhance … direct.

Good ideas are out there. On occasion rare ideas. Especially when triggered by inspired and inspiring briefs. CDs can now focus a world of idea energy on a challenge. CDs can apply their genius to spotting a promising idea AND nurturing it into greatness. Just as CDs have always done. Boom.