Adcandy Still Sweet?
Per Hoffman, founder and president of virtual agency Adcandy.com, wants to democratize the advertising business by actively soliciting input from creative types outside agency walls. Here, he gives an Adcandy state-of-the-union address as the site approaches its first birthday. OMMA contributor Larry Dobrow had a few questions for Hoffman.
OMMA: Has the site and community evolved the way you intended?
Hoffman: I've been using the Wright Brothers analogy a lot: It flies. It does for very little what other companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for. From a business perspective, companies want the user base to be larger. They like what they've seen, but they tell me, "When you have 50,000 users, let's do something." I'm at 5,000 right now.
OMMA: Why has Adcandy caught on?
Hoffman: Because there's no place for people to deposit their ideas. They just kind of vanish. Maybe you'll be buying a Guinness for your friends, thinking, "Ah, Guinness, it's worth the wait." Sort of catchy, but where would you go with it? Ever try to get in touch with somebody who matters at a company? It's almost impossible.
OMMA: The traditional marketing/agency world hasn't entirely embraced Adcandy.
Hoffman: People say, "I'm sure most of the stuff you get is crap." For The New Yorker's caption contests, can you imagine how many bad ones they get? They miss the point. When a company works with us, they get so much more information. We have a little area where people can free-associate if they want; a whole story starts unfolding about what people are thinking about a brand or product. There's lots of value in that, even if you're not going to use any of the ideas as a marketing message.
OMMA: So there are no plans for an all-out assault on the agency business?
Hoffman: I've been at cocktail parties with ad professionals. I tell them the concept and they love it: "That's great! Fuck the ad industry!" When I speak with them during the daytime, they're more like, "You don't know what we do here. We don't come up with slogans, we solve problems!" Give me a break.
Adcandy is not going to replace a full-service agency. What we're saying is that there's no reason to think these supposed professionals are that much better than the average person out there.