Wednesday, July 8, 2009

creatives alert: contests for spec work becoming common

i had the pleasure of attending a new media bootcamp last monday, hosted by david vinjamuri of thirdway brandtrainers. david is a marketer who now trains others in the trade, as well as hosting a blog on market and branding trends. it was such an eye-opening workshop, providing me with even more information regarding blogging, twitter, and website usage for promotional purposes. david is great at marketing -- he really and truly knows what he's doing, hence why he's so popular these days! -- and was a wonderful source of information on how to improve my own marketing skills.

there was something that caught my attention however, and not necessarily in a good way. as we've seen as creatives, spec work is running rampant these days, moreso since the economy tanked. of course, businesses need to find less expensive ways of meeting their advertising and PR needs. but the idea of doing for work for free doesn't exactly appeal to most creatives. the no spec campaign is growing at a rate that rivals consumer-created campaign generation. and i have personally witnessed (and participated in) the anger of creatives when contests are revealed.

with the successful consumer generated advertising campaigns used by companies such as heinz, the use of contests for commercial or viral campaigns has increased. something i didn't know -- there's a website called zooppa that allows a company to create and promote their own contest for their consumer-generated-advertising needs. but what this amounts to is more and more spec work -- lots of talented creatives doing work for free and not seeing anything for it. in fact, most contests have verbage in their fine print that states that all submissions become property of the company -- so the corporation gets tons of free work and ideas and the creative does not get anything at all.

thankfully, in this room of marketers and business people, i was able to stand up as a creative and remind all of them that we are not happy to participate in contests such as these. i did tell them that it was important for them to change the verbage and allow creatives to maintain copyright to their work until paid for the rights to it. it did reach this group of people who responded thoughtfully and kindly, understanding that we won't continue to stand for the kind of treatment that treats us as though we're in it for the fun and the hobby rather than as our career.

what are your thoughts creatives? do you enjoy participating in contests such as these? would you like to see them eradicated, or rather adjusted to be more fair?


Inspired Events said...

Your work is fabulous!! I would to post some of you loveliness on my blog...

Nicole Block said...

aw, thanks!! i would love to be featured on your blog. =)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I'm not sure we have a choice except to stand for it. It's not really the professionals who take part in these contests, so taking us out of the spec equation makes no difference. I think the only approach that will work is to educate businesspeople as to why it's better for them to avoid holding contests.

Nicole Block said...

well, not necessarily true. with the economy as it is, there are a number of creative professionals out of work and looking to channel their energy into something. these contests promise a fun challenge and the possibility of great promotion. problem is, only one wins.

i do agree that we need to educate business people. i have to say that the professionals at the workshop were genuinely interested in my point of view on the subject, and received the suggestion of allowing those who enter to retain their work as something to consider. i may have been successful in reaching them, but that was a small group -- and this is currently such a pervasive problem for our fellow creatives.