It’s not just the clients: Agencies steal ideas, too

Alison Fahey’s commentary about ad agencies being asked by potential clients to sign an agreement giving away their ideas for free [“Here They Go Again,” A&C, June 6] reminded me of a similar practice among certain agencies as it pertains to interviewing creative talent.

I’m a full-time freelance art director who has worked in New York for over 25 years. I often drop my portfolio off at ad agencies for agency recruiters and creative directors. Several years ago, the creative receptionist at a major New York agency refused to let me leave my book unless I signed a release form that gave permission for anyone at the agency to use any of the ideas in my book. I’m not kidding.

I refused. And demanded to speak with the creative recruiter there, who ultimately let me pass on signing it. I don’t know if that agency still has this policy today, but I also can report that although I’ve freelanced at more than 72 agencies at last count, that shop isn’t one of them.

As is the case with many creatives, some of my best print ads are comps that for one reason or another weren’t produced or didn’t run. Point being, my portfolio is meant to show some of my best thinking; it’s not a gift box of ideas for others to use. It’s a shame certain agencies put so little value on ideas.

I might hazard a guess that clients who behave this way do so because they know they can get away with it. Perhaps because they used to work at ad agencies?

David Thall

Freelance art director

New York

For the Record: The cell-phone spot starring Chewbacca that was mentioned in Barbara Lippert’s column [June 6] was for Cingular, not Verizon.

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