Thursday, October 18, 2012

Who owns our ideas?

In a talk at The Caxtons this weekend Lee Clow spoke passionately about how the biggest problem for agencies was that they give away their sole reason for being - ideas.

Talking about the always contentious topic of procurement Clow said;

"We should own the intellectual property we create and get paid for it and be able to manage when it gets used. We just give away the idea, so we blame these bean counters."

I've argued this for years. But I'm not in charge of Saatchis or TBWA so I'm little more than a man with an opinion.

Proof of Clow's argument arrived in my inbox on Monday with the announcement that Sonic Editions would be releasing limited edition art prints of ten of the best ads from the much loved (and highly awarded) Economist campaign.

I've always admired the campaign so I checked out the Sonic Editions website.

Guess what - there were no creative credits listed with the prints. None at all.


Probably because neither the people who create the work at agencies or the agencies themselves own the ideas they create.

The ad above was created by David Abbott and Ron Brown at the agency Abbott Meade Vickers. It is in the permanent collection of the V&A Museum.

Yet on the Sonic Editions website they are not credited.

According to Creative Review the prints are a collaboration between The Economist and Sonic Editions.

Given the clients own the ideas we create for them this is not surprising.

But seriously how hard would it have been for the art directors and copywriters to have been given credit for their work?

Or better still a percentage of sales as a royalty for their idea?

Yes. I know I'm dreaming. But when Lee Clow argues for it you know it's the right thing to do.