Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chimps are not Chumps, but we are

It's finally here...

I read an article last year explaining that since the global financial crisis, there is a trend for companies to cut costs in advertising. They now run competitions where you, the everyday punter, are given the chance to come up with the jingle/ ad/ slogan in exchange for a big prize (remember the i snack 2.0 debacle of 2009?). It's a brilliant marketing idea - it gets people talking about the brand, and can generate huge amounts of hype. Companies aren't claiming this idea is new - according to kraft - even the name Vegemite was chosen out of a hat in the 1920s!

Well, the Waif and I decided to enter one such competition, and ever since we lost it got me thinking...

The competition we entered was to make a 2 min short film, promoting corporate responsability to the enviroment. The combined prize pool for the top 3 entries was $25,500. That is a huge amount of money, but when you consider that the company got to choose from countless entries with different concepts and visual styles etc...and now has 3 professional films they can use as promo, it isn't that much money. I'm pretty sure that a advertising company would charge a fair bit more for such a huge task.

But lets try and be fair here. These competitions, as opposed to paying an advertising firm, does open the field up - giving people like us the opportunity to throw in our ideas and get them seen by people who would not take a meeting with us. It is democratising the industry, but in my mind, these competitions are still a cop out.

Ads is one of the last strongholds for artists to make money, and this practice of running 'competitions' is further devaluing artists by getting lots of talented people to work for free. No other industry would fall for such a trick. In fact, I'd like to see how many professional accountants would get involved in a competition to do a companies tax.

So to Ethical Investments Australia (which I do genuinely believe is a good company) I say, is your practice of running such a competition actually ethical, or have we indeed been ethical washed?