Friday, January 16, 2009

Credit where credit isn't actually due

I was poking around the Internet today, wasting time while putting in the appearance of Writing Something We Can Sell, when I decided to check out the web site of a very good, very well-known, relatively new design studio here in DC. I wanted to show Rick.

I clicked to the inevitable "awards" section and saw that they included Best of Show at the DC Addys -- in a year a few years before they were formed. In fact, there are a whole lot of awards on there that somebody won before the studio actually existed.

Well, clearly, those were awards someone (one of the principals, I'm guessing) won at a previous design studio. That's cool. But what is not cool, I don't think, is letting the world at large believe that those awards were won by the current group.

In fact, I said "clearly" above, when it's not "clear" at all. And just for the hell of it, I looked back at the old Addy showbook from nearly 10 years ago and counted a total of six people who had a significant role in the creation and development of that particular "Best in Show" piece. A creative director, two designers, a copywriter, an account manager and an illustrator.

This firm really does great work. Their success is well-earned and so are all the accolades they get. So they don't need to pad or BS their rep at all. But the fact of the matter is, someone at that company won those awards, and that's a different thing than the studio. Even if it was a principal. Who else might have been involved and what impact did they have on the work?

Maybe it's a fine point, but I still think it's misleading, just as I think it's misleading for agencies to put in their "clients" section the names of anybody they or anybody in their firm ever did a bingo card for. Or use work from one of those sources in their portfolio section. I've been over this before. I'm sorry, but it's just not honest.

Feel free to rummage around our site. We don't have an awards section, although we have won a lot of them and have them scattered about the office in what I call "studied indifference". But all the work on there is work this agency did, and I won't put anything on our site that I didn't have a significant role in. Maybe that diminishes our book, I don't know. But it does keep it honest.

Of course, if I've got the rules confused, we should revise our site. Rick has been in the One Show plenty of times. And Show South, CA, Graphis, Archive and on and on too. And he's done a lot of work for some very high-profile clients. I wasn't involved, and N+H wasn't involved, and so it's not really our work, but who needs to know that?

It's Sunday afternoon, and I'm looking over this post again, and it seems to me to be a whole post dedicated to flogging one particular design studio. That wasn't really my intent.

Poor writing. Or something.

What this studio did on their site was not what I'd call totally honest. But I'm afraid neither is it as uncommon as I wish it was. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones to "pad their resume" online. Just the ones that drove me to do the post.
- WH

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