The Everyman Plays Adman
By Dave Demerjian

(Business 2.0) – If you're marketing to the masses, why not let the masses design your marketing? That's the thinking behind Adcandy, a New York-based startup launched last year to solicit ad slogans and brand names directly from consumers. "We're opening advertising to everyone," says founder Per Hoffman.

The site is partly for fun: Adcandy runs regular contests seeking slogans from its 4,800 members for big companies such as Delta Air Lines and T-Mobile. Other competitions are sponsored by paying clients, including New York-based Pro'tech'd, which sells knit iPod cases. Supremely Moist, a maker of hemp-based cake mixes, recently held a contest that produced taglines including "Hemp Yourself to Better Health." The winner will receive a $250 prize, but Supremely Moist owns all the slogans submitted. Even when the entries fall short, they still serve as valuable market research. "I'm just as interested in what people think about the product," says Pro'tech'd CEO Celine Ruben-Salama. "It will help us decide where to go next." For Adcandy the next step is signing up better-known clients and more amateur marketers. "Larger companies want to see 50,000 users," Hoffman says. Now that would be a critical mass.