Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Can I eat the cheese even if I don't buy it?

In the worldview agency scheme of things, we’re relatively small here at N+H. It’s unlikely we’ll ever be invited to pitch General Motors, Microsoft, Amazon – or Kraft. But we can tell you that in the case of Kraft, even if it was one of those potentially life-changing accounts, we wouldn’t go for it.

According to a story in Ad Age, Kraft is conducting a review for its Oscar Mayer, Kraft Singles, Ritz, Triscuit and Grey Poupon brands, and one of the original conditions of participation was that agencies “ give up ownership of ideas presented in the review -- but accept legal liability should the marketer end up using those ideas at some later date.” According to the story, Kraft is making noises like they are going to change their position. But also, according to the story, this sort of demand for ideas with no compensation is becoming more and more common.

See the whole story here if you’re a mind to.

Again, as a boutique agency, we’re not even on the Kraft radar, but what a totally bogus way to treat a company you might do business with. What utter disdain for the value of ideas. Ideas are our business. Or should be. And Kraft is insisting that these agencies give a few of ‘em away and accept any legal liabilities associated with the ideas even if they don’t get the business.

It’s not exactly the same thing, and the scale is certainly magnified by factor of, let’s say a billion, but haven’t all of us in the ad agency business had a client hire us to do a campaign or an ad, love more than one idea, and then think you should be willing to let them have both for the price of one?

As far as the Kraft story goes, it’s hard to tell who deserves the most scorn here – a client that would make such a demand or an agency that has so little respect for the value of their ideas that they would go along with it.

So if someone from Kraft is reading this and feels that nobody can serve their Oreos brand quite like a boutique agency in Silver Spring, Maryland, don’t bother calling. We’re busy.

(Like they’d care.)

1 comment:

Monque said...

Woody and I have had this conversation a couple of times (i.e. the notion of "what's an idea worth"), but this story goes beyond ridiculous.

Some of the larger marketers have really gone over the top in terms of what they think is appropriate or acceptable to ask of their marketing firms. I'm with you Woody, an agency who accepts these terms should go check to see if their ethics and dignity are still intact. The only way to stop Kraft (or like-minded companies) from this type of behavior is an across-the-board refusal to accept those terms. Period.