How much is an idea worth?
For JK Rowling, coming up with Harry Potter netted a billion.
When Banksy shredded a painting, it doubled the work’s $1.4m price tag.
And Facebook has made Mark Zuckerberg a zillionaire…or something like that.
Whether you think their financial rewards are justified or not, their creativity invites respect.
It would be plain wrong for an imitator to pass off a book, artwork or website from these well-known names as work of their own.
There’s a word for it, in fact. Fraud.
While there may be copycats or imitators, in these examples, the intellectual property is protected.
It’s out there and visible with their (now famous) names attached to it so there can be little argument about who the idea belongs too.
But what about when your entire business is based on selling ideas that may or may not come to fruition?
A public spat between BrewDog and Manifest has brought the ‘always bubbling under the surface issue’ of creative currency to the fore.
As an agency, we thrive on coming up with ideas for our clients. This is the essence of what we do.
So when we’re trying to win a new client, sharing ideas we think will work for them is part of the process.
It’s similar to a job interview and, although it’s work we put huge amounts of energy and time into, we don’t get paid for it.
More often than not though, these pitches lead to a beautiful relationship.
But occasionally they don’t.
And it’s always disappointing to walk away with a ‘thanks but no thanks’.
But what’s worse is the minority of cases where we later see our ideas being used without credit or reimbursement.
It’s rare but when it happens, it hurts.
There are lots of views about how to tackle this problem in our industry but fundamentally, it’s an issue of integrity and respect.
Companies need to take creative communications seriously, recognise its value and ultimately, pay for this work.
An honest agency relationship is particularly important when it comes to brand concepts, campaigns and PR.
Of course, design work shouldn’t be ripped off either but this type of creativity carries a cachet that offers a degree of protection.
It’s also harder to blatantly pinch artwork.
However brilliant storytelling is just as valuable – and not just for the likes of JK Rowling.
It goes right to the core of good business and it’s something we’ve talked about in this blog here.
Don’t be fooled by apparent simplicity either – it takes serious skill to come up with a concept that’s both understandable and engaging.
Which is why agencies exist…and why businesses across all sectors the world over have achieved great results with brilliant agency partners.
Here at Pace, one of our values, is to be genuine.
This enables us to be constructive and candid with our advice as we build trusted relationships with our clients.
And from here, great ideas happen. And as the famous author Earl Nightingale said: “Everything begins with an idea.”