Saturday, September 24, 2016

"I can sell the client the idea, but still own it" he said.

"Alone with my thoughts" by Tarek Chemaly
If I am starting off with such a very dangerous statement "I can sell the client the idea, but still own it" it is because someone who works in advertising has said these words to me literally. So this is a quote from someone who works in the advertising industry in Lebanon. Someone who describes himself - again his words not mine - as "a study case in the advertising industry that should be taught at university."
Such is the nature of the beast in advertising I concede to that, albeit this time ethically it troubles me. My curse was to tell such people - in their face - where to go stuff themselves. And to say that to people who might or might not be rich, powerful, or in high position is always a risk. Have I mellowed with age? Maybe, probably because there are fights not worth fighting and figures and people who are too self-involved to even listen to what is being said to them.
But I still feel the statement "I can sell the client the idea, but still own it" is truly exceptionally ethically sensitive especially that the person in question is currently resurrecting older advertising he has done and doing them again under the idea that "it's a different concept" (once more, his words) - "Magritte screwed the hell out of us repeating the same image, but that's his style, and that's my own style. What's in it for you?" - was his next statement.
What is in it for me is that, as someone who has worked with ideas for as long as I can remember, I understand that once you sell an idea - it becomes precisely that: Sold. It belongs to someone else, they paid you money for it, and unless by special permission it is not to be repeated and used again.
This is how the advertising industry works. Failure to understand this and to disguise it as something else is a frightening for the whole basis of what creativity is and how it functions.
But then, some Lebanese ad persons have allowed themselves to twist the rules, rip concepts from others, claim them as their own )which technically is not theft, theft in advertising is when an advertising is too close to another to confuse the viewer or whose implementation is exactly the same as another).... But I find it alarming a person who has actual clients that pay him money still thinks he owns the ideas and ergo reuses them to more financial benefits.