A while ago, I wrote about companies using "regular Joes" to research patent prior art or create advertising. Now, it appears that companies are taking it a step further by using crowdsourcing to assist the companies with marketing concepts and content. You may be familiar with the concept of Kickstarter or Indiego as a way for entrepreneurs and small businesses to raise money for their products by obtaining small amounts of money from a large amount of potential customers.
Now, companies like Quiksilver, Jamba Juice, and the band One Direction have turned to creative sourcing websites like Talenthouse and Tongal. Here's how it works (as I understand it): the Companies pay a fee to post a need; artists (musicians, videographers, etc.) pitch their proposal to fill the need of the company; the best submissions then get paid for their submissions. I understand in some instances the payout can be many thousands of dollars, but usually a few hundred dollars is the norm. The websites have an added feature in that users register with the site can weigh in and vote for their favorite submission(s). Of course, the company has the final say regarding which submission(s) it will accept, but this can be a good way to gauge how consumers may view the work.
For big companies, these sites give them a chance to break away from stale ideas and infuse new ones. They also are able to select several works targeting specific regions or demographics, as opposed to the "one size fits all" marketing campaign. For artists, it gives them a way to get their work out there without having to drudge through the ranks of an advertising agency or other type of company. It allows the artists to freelance, too.