In our semi-recent semi-review of 2009, we mentioned loser-generated content as one of the more troubling trends of recent times.
The main player to date has been Confused.com who asked members of the public to send in lo-fi footage of themselves talking about how much money they had saved. Hey presto, a low-budget TV campaign that doubles as a viral and focus for PR.
It was only a matter of time before the same principle worked its way into print. Step forward, search engine marketing specialists Epiphany Solutions.
Over the course of 2010, they're running 12 double-page ads in The Drum along the lines of the one above.
In a move that will have copywriters around the world glancing at the nearest ceiling rose and wondering if it will hold their weight, Epiphany has asked people to tweet their headline suggestions, promising to use the best ones over the course of the year.
You can see why people do this stuff – it's a win-win. Not only do you get free content, but you also create lots of free PR, and project an aura of being inclusive and 21st-century and just generally brilliant.
Nor does it seriously spell the end for creatives, who are still needed to think up ideas like this in the first place.
What's worrying and faintly depressing is that this bandwagon is apparently only just beginning to gather pace. Pretty soon, every advertiser will want a piece of the crowdsourcing action. And then it all starts to feel a bit old. If it isn't already.
Incidentally, most of the headlines suggested so far involve people. (You wouldn't ask Peter Stringfellow for fashion advice, You wouldn't ask Russell Brand for haircare tips etc.) This has a slightly unfortunate effect when you set it against the strapline: "The Right Tool For The Job."
Might be worth crowdsourcing an alternative.