Agencies Enter Legal Battle Over Campaign Credits

By Patrick Coffee 

Earlier this week, your AgencySpy found itself in the middle of what could become a legal battle between two independent shops.

It all started when we noticed a spot for a company called VidAngel on our sister site Ads of the World. The post itself originally gave top creative credit to Ackermania Creative, the online video marketing wing of Ackerman Bros. Entertainment perhaps best known for its work on those viral Poopourri spots.

Here’s the ad itself again:

After we posted on it, we received an email from The Harmon Brothers, the other studio that worked on the Poopourri campaign and also got production credits for the new ad along with production studio Mystery Box.

They told us that the attribution was not accurate and insisted that we change the post accordingly to give their company top creative billing over Ackermania.

That was only the beginning.

Harmon told us that Ackermania had only come up with the general concept and one of the key taglines in the campaign, that the agency had no further involvement in its production, and that the mention of their name in the credits on the “making of” YouTube clip was simply an acknowledgement of that early contribution.

(We should also mention that VidAngel, the company being promoted here, was founded by the very same Harmon Brothers.)

We changed our headline accordingly, added the credits referenced and assumed that the matter had been resolved.

It had not.

Yesterday we received an email from Joel Ackerman of Ackermania, who told us that we had it right the first time: Ackermania was the creative agency behind the campaign. Ackerman writes that, while Mystery Box and Harmon Brothers were co-producers, Ackermania developed the creative for the campaign, participated in both pre- and post-production and, according to an earlier agreement, should have been listed first in all subsequent credits as the primary creative.

We now hear that Ackerman plans to take legal action against Harmon to ensure that future credits take the form originally (allegedly) agreed upon by the two parties.

And we have a question: how often does this happen in the “traditional” agency world?