Paying for ideas

There’s an oddly incoherent approach to intellectual property in many large corporations. While they value and protect their own intellectual property, they often expect to receive free ideas from creatives who wish to work with them.

Many creative companies survive by selling ideas. And just as many clients take advantage of the imbalance in the market place to insist that pitches are produced for free, or they offer ridiculously small fees while demanding the ownership of the intellectual property created.

Every small creative agency has a story to tell of a pitch to a client that was taken and used without them being reimbursed properly for their ideas. Clients need to be aware that their reputations can be rapidly and severely damaged within the creative community. These companies need to be able to draw from a large, readily available and flexible pool of creative talent but if they abuse this resource they will find the best talent is no longer available to them.

Many large corporations think they can use their superior muscle to bully creatives into working for nothing, waving a fat contract on the end of the barbed stick. But that stance will often return poor results. Good creative people are usually very busy and have to turn down lucrative jobs in order to make the space to work on client pitches. If a client refuses to pay for pitches or guarantee not to use the pitched work without paying further, mutually acceptable, fees, they’re likely to find themselves working with second-rate creatives.

Paying for ideas needs to be ingrained in the culture of all successful, innovative companies. Investing in and supporting a flexible network of creative individuals and agencies should be considered an important part of the R&D budget of any company seeking to stay ahead of their competition.

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