Publishing Unapproved Campaigns Could Get You Fired

Publishing Unapproved Campaigns Could Get You FiredYou may have created the campaign, it may not have been approved by the client but he still owns it and posting it to showcase your work without the client’s approval could put your agency in a tough spot and could get you fired

Call it friendly fire. An agency art director posts an unsanctioned version of a TV ad for a client on his personal website to enhance his portfolio. It was the cut he worked on and fought for—even if that particular version didn’t make the cut.

The problem is, he doesn’t own the work, and neither does his agency. The clip belongs to the client, making the art director guilty of copyright infringement.

It’s a scenario that’s become all too familiar at agencies. Copyrighted content routinely finds its way online, as creatives aim to burnish their own brands as much as the brands for which they work. But too often, career aspirations clash with a marketer’s need to protect its intellectual property. Clients pay agencies hefty fees and, naturally, expect loyalty rather than an art director going rogue.

Creative chiefs attempt to prevent such digital dustups, though clearly they can’t police everyone all the time. So, they have taken to schooling employees on the importance of protecting the client’s property—stressing that their very job security is at stake.

Posting work without permission can land not just employees but also their employers and even the client in hot water. Ford was forced to apologize in 2013 after a creative team at JWT India posted spec posters that never ran, including one that featured an illustration of the Kardashian sisters tied up and gagged in the trunk of a Ford Figo. The copy read: “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra-large boot.” The piece ended up on the blog Ads of the World and sparked a public backlash.

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