'Don't Give Ideas Away to Clients,' Urges US Agency Body

07 February 2007

NEW YORK: "Don't do owt for nowt; and if tha' dost, do it fer thyself" - an ancient adage from North Yorkshire, UK, whose natives are noted for their blunt practicality. The American Association of Advertising Agencies is of like mind, expressing a similar credo to its thousand-plus members, albeit in less archaic language.

In a 'white paper' to members, the AAAA urges them not to give away their creative concepts when pitching to potential clients. According to 4A evp-management services Tom Finneran: "In the last few years, there's been a tendency for marketers to ask for ownership of ideas. It is an onerous matter for agencies."

A case in point is that of Hilton Hotels, which a few years back created a furore by demanding that creative review contenders assign, without compensation, their ownership rights to the ideas they pitched

Reassures one of the white paper's authors, Candice Kersh, partner at Madison Avenue shop Frankfurt, Kurnit Klein & Selz: "Agencies need to know that just because they're given a document asking for rights doesn't mean they must sign it."

Kersh cites alternatives to ceding ownership, among them asking a prospective client to agree in writing that ideas presented in a pitch are owned by the agency."

And not even a Yorkshireman could dispute the logic of TBWA cmo-worldwide Laurie Coots: "When you act like something [of yours] is valuable, others treat it like it has value too."

To view the AAAA white paper click here.

Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff