Advertising is filled with self-promoting go-getters. Quelle surprise! So it should come as no surprise to anyone that getting credit for great ideas is really important. In advertising you are only as good as your work. He who steals my credit steals my money is the old ad expression.
I have personally seen the most flagrant theft of credit. Some people are too nice/ timid to claim what is rightfully theirs. it’s a shame. These people get taken advantage of.
Whenever an ad is a hit there is a vacuum to be filled. “Who came up with it?” the media asks. and the reality is that ideas can always be traced back to ONE person.
But ad agencies have a great talent to turning this lonely process into a “collaboration” when something is a hit. where the originator’s idea is now reduced to just a “kernel” or “germ” of an idea that was vastly improved by his or her bosses.
i should point out that this has never happened to me. I have always been very aggressive about getting the credit (and PR) that i deserved to get. no more. no less.
One thing i’ve learned about the giving of credit is to be generous with it. it’s amazing how Gollum-like ad people can suddenly be about credit and fame. but the truth is ad fame is not worth very much. but you can’t know that till you find out how worthless it really is.
i remember being at an ad party once and someone introduced me as the creator of a famous campaign that i was associated with but not the originator of. And i have to say i struggled for the breath to deny this. I somehow managed it. to my credit! But it sure was tempting to just smile and say nothing and soak up the praise and attention.
it’s sooo easy and seductive to pretend that you did something great that you didn’t. i found out that that night.
I have seen people get really bitter about not getting credit, so my policy has always been to be happy so long as my name is on what i had a real hand in creating.
If i sense someone thinks they deserve credit on one of my ideas i am very happy to give it. because i know that if i don’t that person — who very well may not have gotten too much credit so far — will bitch about me into eternity if i don’t. who needs that?
And once credit is taken it tends to stay taken. so, potentially, the untruth gets repeated and reprinted until it becomes the truth. hence the importance of claiming credit from the outset.
anyway, this was all inspired by something i heard on the radio today.
It’s about Julian Koenig, writer of “THINK SMALL” and “LEMON” for Volkswagen via DDB. I’m going assume you know what i’m talking about here. advertising history. i’m not a friggin history professor here. Look it up on google!
Well apparently, and perhaps not unsurprisingly, the ebullient George Lois – Julian’s onetime creative and business partner – has been taking credit for a lot of Julian’s and others’ work. Or it has been lazily attributed to him. Or…it’s a mess.
Anyway this doc was done by his daughter who works as a radio producer for NPR. The USA’s version of the BBC, basically.
This is why i always give credit. Just in case. You never know. And it’s not worth that much to begin with!