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Crowdsourcing the Ad Slogan

Richard Davis, Slogan Slayers
Photo by: Richard Davis
Richard Davis, Slogan Slayers

Forget what you see on TV’s “Mad Men.” Sometimes, it takes a village to write an advertising slogan.

“People want high quality slogans but they don’t necessarily care if it’s coming from a professional writer or a really talented amateur,” says Richard Davis, CEO of Slogan Slingers, a crowdsourcing site for ad slogans and taglines. “When you come to our site, you’re going to pay a fraction of the cost and the turnaround time is going to be a lot quicker.”

The 42-year-old ad executive from Jacksonville, Fla., started as a copywriter in an advertising agency in 1994. Ten years later he founded his own agency, Spark.

Exhausted by putting in 10- to 12-hour-days and caring for a child with special needs, Davis looked to supplement his income so he could forgo some projects at Spark. That’s how he decided to launch a different kind of ad business: crowdsourcing advertising taglines.

“There are so many talented people that never get their chance [in advertising],” he says. He has recruited all types of people, from teachers to lawyers — who’ve kept their day jobs — to try their hand at slogan writing. The company has been in beta for the past 18 months and launched last week.

The process goes like this: A business fills out a creative brief with sloganslingers.com — just as if they were working with a creative ad agency. Next, registered slogan writers start submitting ideas. The reward: up to $900 for the best slogan.

Normally, a business would have to seek an ad agency and wait several weeks for one or two writers to provide ideas, which can typically costs several thousand dollars, says Davis. With Slogan Slingers, contests can generate 50 to 100-plus ideas within seven days for just several hundred dollars.

“Now, it’s really the power of the crowd that can help [create an ad],” he says.

Small businesses such as law firms, fashion companies, restaurants, tech firms and retail outlets make up the bulk of Slogan Slingers’ business.

Two Cousins’ Pizza Co. of Lexington, Ohio, took part in one of Slogan Slingers’ first contests. The owners ultimately chose “The World’s Best Pizza (Relatively Speaking)” as their tagline. It now appears on everything from signs to fliers to golf carts.

Meanwhile K9Login, a website for professional dog walkers in Chicago, Ill., chose this: “How Walking Should Run.”

And IT consulting firm ComSys of Kenosha, Wis., found a winner with this: “Our People Don’t Crash.”

One surprise, says Davis, is that while he expected to apply the typical advertising process to running Slogan Slingers, he has instead applied efficiencies he learned from being in the businesss — getting rid of meetings and eschewing over-analysis — to his new ad agency.

And the best part: “It’s a completely democratic process. Everyone is competing equally,” he says.

And for some, it’s a way into a new career.

Taheerah Barney, a nutrition counselor from Hoboken, N.J., graduated from Northeastern University with a marketing degree in 2001. While she had hoped to land a job in advertising, the economic downturn upended her plans.

Slogan Slingers is now giving her an opportunity to pursue that goal.

“Professional tag line writing career, here I come,” she says.

Email us at SmallBiz@cnbc.com and follow us on Twitter @SmallBizCNBC.

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