HuffPo’s Love of Free Stuff Gets Them In Trouble Again

The Huffington Post is feeling the heat from the AIGA, the professional association for design, over the HuffPost Politics Icon Competition, a contest that is crowdsourcing the logo for its politics coverage.

Ric Grefe, the executive director of the AIGA writes in a comment on the site that “AIGA… strongly discourage­s the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted on a speculativ­e basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project” on the basis that it won’t necessarily elicit the best work and because it disrespects designers to ask for freebies.

In response the Huffington Post insists that “AOL Huffington Post Media Group employs an in-house team of more than 30 talented designers” and it asks for reader input on a lot of things as a fun way to get people involved.

But as we mentioned in today’s Morning Media Menu, this isn’t the first time that a company has run afoul of designers who think that brands who hold these sorts of contests are just trying to get work done for free. True, as Poynter points out, the Huffington Post has a history of troubles related to free submissions on its site. Gap caused more trouble for itself a while back over rumors that it would be crowdsourcing its logo after the redesign got trashed.

User-generated content is one thing, but is there a line that publicists and marketers can’t cross in terms of what they can ask from the audience? Are things like logos so important to the brand that they should be left in the hands of professional designers and marketers? Share your thoughts here, on Twitter, and our Facebook page.