Just Giving It Away: The Pros of Pro-Bono

By way of Andy Rutledge, who, sadly, announced recently that he’s going to be taking a break from writing his brilliant essays, is this piece from the Ad Age blog, The Small Agency Diary, called “In Defense of Agency Pro-Bono Work — Send Me Some.” Really interesting piece about the changing face of the industry and the bad rap pro-bono work gets from time to time. Here’s some:

Let’s review history. Every agency that grew to super stardom during the early modern era of advertising did so by flexing their creative muscles through pro bono work for pizza parlors, tattoo parlors, and the like. When they were small, agencies such as Fallon, Goodby and The Martin Agency all did it and were applauded for their effort. National award shows showered them with awards and the industry’s news media featured the ads as exemplary thinking.

My how times have changed. I know of creative work that has been rejected from the forums of our industry media only after learning it was pro bono. I’ve literally heard people in our industry suggest that unless a client’s minimal budget was in the seven figures, the work shouldn’t be considered in our national award shows. Such suggestions smell like fear; the fear of being out-thought.