Just Asking

We asked industry executives how to best safeguard ideas presented during new business pitches.

Given all the ambiguity of who really “owns” an idea, there is only one real, albeit dramatic, viable solution: Stop doing spec work for new business. —Bill Oakley, group creative director, TM Advertising, Irving, Texas

We have to trademark our work and own it, especially if [it] involves a character that goes outside the realm of traditional advertising [or] it’s something that can cross over into the world of entertainment. —Tom Moudry, CEO, Martin/Williams, Minneapolis

We have yet to see a client use ideas from an agency that did not win the business. If a client chooses to pay an agency a stipend and stipulate that they own the creative, it is the agency’s prerogative to participate or not. I don’t feel you can regulate that. —Judy Neer, president, Pile and Co., Boston

I don’t worry about it, because there are a lot more where those ideas came from . . . especially in our expertise—ROI and emerging media. —Lynn Fantom, chairman, CEO, ID Media, New York

We need to stand up more comprehensively for our belief in the economic value and impact of our ideas on our clients’ businesses. The new business process is only part of the problem. —Michael Kantro, CEO, president, Margeotes Fertitta Powell, New York

Put [digital rights management] on the pitch and strictly distribute it through iTunes. —Ron Bloom, CEO, PodShow, San Francisco

Not a lot. The problem of holding back ideas is you lose the competitive edge. A little mysterious, maybe, but nobody is going to hold back if you think you are going to win. —David Sable, worldwide COO, Wunderman, New York



Clients think they are looking for work, when they should be looking for an agency. [Clients] should make their decision based on an agency’s last 10 years of work, capabilities and a dialog with current clients.

Only pitch ideas that use your own receptionist as the spokesperson. —Grant Pace, partner, Conover Tuttle Pace, Boston