Adobe, Does CS Stand For Crowdsourcing?

Adobe, Does CS Stand For Crowdsourcing?

Is Adobe Crowdsourcing a New Logo?

The competition is being run by Adobe Creative Juices, a community ‘powered by Adobe’ aimed at the UK and Irish creative community. Graphic designers are being asked to design the new Creative Juices logo with the winning entry receiving an Adobe CS5 product. In return, they promise that the winning logo will be “seen everywhere.”

Toxic Bullshit

The competition can be found on the Creative Juices Facebook page as well as in the March issue of the Creative Juices newsletter. This happens to be the same newsletter that includes the article Should You Work For Free, a post by Jessica Hische, the New York-based graphic designer behind the fantastic Should I work For Free flowchart that has been making its way around the web. Follow the chart, and the answer for wheather you should enter the Adobe competition is “NO. This is the most toxic line of bullshit anyone will ever feed you.”

Shame On You

To ask designers to work for free so you can select the one you feel merits some software (at no cost to you) is a slap in the face to the community that buys these professional products. What message does this send to other companies, ones that do not have the intimate relationship that Adobe has with the graphic design community? If Adobe Creative Juices is part of Adobe (see update at the bottom of post), then Adobe thinks it’s okay to take advantage of our time, and the perceived value that graphic designers, photographers, typographers, and illustrators provide will continue to erode, and fast. Do the executives at Adobe ask fifty mechanics to repair their car and pay only the one they feel did the best job? Do they buy one hundred apples from the grocery store, take them home, have a bite of each, and pay only for the one that was the sweetest? Why should design be an excuse for taking advantage of people?

Coloring Contests are for Kids Not Designers

I recall entering Christmas coloring contests as a child, and I recently saw my daughter squeal when she saw her entry into the Valentines coloring contest hanging up at the local library. She was hoping to score some chocolate goodies but was not the winner. That kind of a contest is fine with me. She doesn’t have to make a living at this point. She didn’t invest time in schooling, training, and very likely, Adobe products. If Adobe wants to provide real opportunities for designers to gain exposure, then they should do it in a way that reflects their appreciation and protection of our skills and time.

Let Adobe Know How You Feel

I reached out to Adobe on Saturday, March 12, via email and Twitter. At the time of this posting, I have not heard back from them. If you believe Adobe should reconsider engaging in this sort of crowdsourcing competition, please take a moment, and email their PR department, send them a Tweet at@Adobe,or call them at 1-800-833-6687. I will update this post should I hear back from Adobe at some point and let you know their response.


Update, March 14: Like many of you, I could not believe that Adobe would run a contest like this. Unfortunately, if you go to the Adobe UK Twitter Account, you can see they are promoting the competition. The Twitter account also links to The Terms and conditions and the Creative Brief for the contest make it clear that it is run by Adobe. Macworld also had a piece about a similar contest in the past that also mentions Adobe launching Creative Juices. In addition, the Creative Juices Newsletter is hosted on a url owned by Tidalwave Ltd, a PR company that lists Adobe as a client.

Update, March 15: Creative Juices have provided a little more information on where the logo would be used, once again saying it is for Adobe: Wall Post on Creative Juices

Update, March 17: Adobe UK replies to the concerns over the contest:

We at Adobe UK have read that there is some concern from a few community members about our current Creative Juices logo competition, with some drawing the conclusion that we are encouraging crowd-sourcing.

It was (and never is) our intention to crowdsource in any way. Our intentions here are to help the ACJ community establish its identity rather than create it via one of our own Adobe agencies. And we look at this friendly competition as an opportunity for designers and artists to showcase their work amongst their peers and potentially get some free Adobe software.

We have always had a long-standing respect and understanding of the design community and we value the time and cost that goes into every single project that is undertaken by you all. The aim of ACJ is to encourage creativity and the sharing of best practices on a global public platform, and we hope that the community values our input and support. If you have further concerns about this contest or would like us to still move forward with it, please let us know in the comments.

Thanks, Emma at Adobe UK


  • Michael B says:
    Mar 13 at 08:44

    Looks to me like they’re blatantly using the Adobe name as part of the Facebook name to get noticed. Doesn’t look like something Adobe would do.

    1. Steve Zelle says:
      Mar 13 at 09:01

      I thought the same thing and wrote about it in this post:

      Judging from the terms and conditions, the footer, and the newsletter I linked to in this curent post, it certainly looks like it’s Adobe. I wish it weren’t.

      In addition, the Adobe UK Twitter account is, linking to and promoting the contest:
      “Don’t forget to enter the Adobe Creative Juices logo competition The deadline for entering is Monday 21st March”

      They have also run similar contests in the past such as this one seen in Macworld.

  • Adam Frazer says:
    Mar 13 at 09:57

    I respect your opinions, Steve. I have nothing against crowdsourcing for I am an advocate and I do believe in its power.

    I haven’t check out Adobe’s Facebook page. But if Adobe only promises that the winning logo will be seen “everywhere”, I think that this isn’t enough to compensate for someone’s creativity and ideas, or creative juices.

    Adobe needs to remember that volunteers or people who participate in crowdsourcing also need motivation. Love, glory, money and mixture of social, status and financial rewards motivate them to do more and give more.

  • Will Seabrook says:
    Mar 13 at 10:49

    Talk about being on a high horse. It’s a competition, it’s up to the independent person whether they enter or not. They’re not getting brain washed into something they don’t want to do, as you are pretty much claiming. A lot of aspiring designers would relish the opportunity to get some recognition for their work. It would be brilliant for their CV.

  • Joshua Balleza says:
    Mar 14 at 12:29

    I think it’s crazy what they’re doing & I find it hard to believe that they would compensate for so little. If they want people to compete for what they’re offering they’re either saying that: 1. they don’t appreciate designers very much or 2. they just want mediocre work done for them. I know that aspiring designers are looking for more ways to get their work out there but any good aspiring designer would know that this doesn’t merit working for free.

  • Aaron says:
    Mar 14 at 01:03

    This is b.s.
    You want to show Adobe how it feels to have your time treated like it’s worth nothing? Email, call or tweet them and tell them that instead or buying or upgrading your copy of the CS suite, you’re going to steal it. Hit them in the wallet and they’ll start paying attention.
    – The alternative here is to email, call or tweet them and tell them you’ll never upgrade your CS suite again, simply *because* they support spec work and you won’t support a major company that condones it. You have to *tell them* why you’re boycotting or they will never get the message.

    Put up or shut up, designers. Don’t bitch about spec work and how it hurts designers; boycott the companies (Adobe included) who support it. It might hurt you a little but stands have never been taken that didn’t require some kind of sacrifice.

  • Me says:
    Mar 16 at 02:28

    You mentioned Hische’s flowchart. One of the main reasons, in my opinion, this is making its way around the web is because she purchased a domain. Would be great if someone did the same for Adobe’s stunt. I’m sure someone will come up with better idea than the semi-lame to follow: PERHAPS THOUGH us ABODE instead of Adobe as it might be a trademark issue.

  • Paul Thomas says:
    Mar 17 at 02:06

    How can you all be so self righteous, most of the design industry works on the speculative approach. We all pitch on a daily basis to win work either individually or as an agency. That is the way this industry works from the small agencies to the Ogilvy and BBDO crowd.

    The normal intelligent person can see that all they are trying to do is encourage the community to express themselves, look back at the other competitions they have run, it’s all about inspiring people. Just cause it is a logo for a FB page, it makes no difference.

    If you think you can get through life without pitching speculatively, then you are more of a fool than this post makes you out to be!

  • Des Igner says:
    Mar 17 at 02:46


    Yes, agencies do pitch work and in some cases it’s narrowed down to a select few agencies and it’s usually for a highly lucrative accounts for a huge client. With crowdsourcing, on the other hand, you get to compete against sometimes over 100 other designers, you get nothing if you don’t win and when you do “win” it’s a pittance.

  • Steve Zelle says:
    Mar 17 at 07:51

    I thought this thread could use a little information concerning who Adobe is promoting Creative Juices to, by using the Creative Juices newsletter as an indicator of their goals.

    Open up the PDF and notice:

    1. “Welcome to issue 2 of the Creative Juices newsletter – an invaluable resource for creative professionals working in the UK and Ireland” (note: creative professionals)

    2. The newsletter has a “New Trends and Industry News” section. (note: “Industry News”, not “The Craft Corner”)

    3. This issue of the newsletter has the fantastic article “Should you work for free” by Jessica Hische. She provides some very sound advice on being asked to do work without payment. (note: this is advice for professionals including those starting out)

    I get the feeling from Adobe, and from some of the people leaving comments in this thread that this contest is fine because the Creative Juices page is not for design professionals. If this is true, then why is Adobe marketing it to them?

    I also wanted to clear up that the Facebook page is not the only place the logo will appear. It will be used on the Newsletter and as Adobe Creative Juices have posted on their wall, “all areas where Adobe will promote the Facebook page.”

    If this sort of contest can be run by Adobe—the company that delivers the software considered to be the design industry standard—then why should ANY other company think twice about valuing our time?

    The message that Adobe is sending out concerning these issues, is at best grey. Adobe needs to clarify this.

  • Bruce Campbell says:
    Mar 18 at 01:08

    This is truly an evil, evil trend. In the past year, I have witnessed, and sometimes been involved in a few PR debacles in the last year or so.

    Generally, my take is that a standard business requirement (get service for as cheap as possible) gets mixed with leading/bleeding edge trends that are buzz marketing topics, brainstormed enthusiastically by client and service provider, with a minimum of experience and maximum of enthusiasm, and lip service at most paid to core values that AREN’T grow fast, make and save money. The underlying message that is delivered, even if the audience can’t articulate it, is that the organization doesn’t have values that include the audience. Result? Customers that think the same. Give me a deal, or get out of my face.

    I don’t want customers like that. I won’t work with a client that doesn’t have a vision I can whole-heartedly believe in. Anything else is prostitution, to my mind.

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