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Rantanplan
11-29-2010, 09:34 PM
Sorry if this is taboo, it's not related to screenwriting... but I know several writers here work in advertising / marketing.

Let's hypothetically assume that the person who came up with what is, in my opinion, the greatest slogan in the history of advertising, JUST DO IT, was an intern at an ad agency, working for free.

If that slogan effectively and measurably increases brand awareness and makes the company millions, does the lowly intern get any cut of the pie? Does the ad agency make more money off of it?

I ask because I'm doing some freelance copywriting for a company in Hong Kong, and it doesn't pay super well (the reality of the global market !!), but some of the brands I'm dreaming up slogans for are major international brands. If my slogan is picked up, and proves successful, I'm just wondering if I am entitled to more than say.. *cough cough * 20 or 30 bucks :)

I mean, how do you monetarily measure the worth of globally recognized slogan? Maybe you dream it up in five minutes, and your hourly rate is 30 bucks, is that seriously all you're entitled to?

SuperScribe
11-29-2010, 10:25 PM
it's not related to screenwriting...

Does. Not. Compute.

Scripted77
11-29-2010, 10:35 PM
Generally speaking, your "cut of the pie" is what you agreed to be paid for the job. Nothing more. Nothing less. The benefit of coming up with a slogan or commercial that has mass awareness is being able to use it to find another gig or negotiate a better rate in the future.

I've known interns who wrote high profile TV commercials. Their reward? A job offer and something to include in their portfolio.

Also, what if these companies don't like any of your ideas? Are you going to pay them back? Probably not. Unless you're crazy!

DangoForth
11-29-2010, 10:36 PM
Depends on your contract with your employers. Most big multinational corps have an "any intellectual property thought up by you on company time (or furniture) belongs to us without any additional monetary consideration for YOU!" clause somewhere in their employment/contract verbiage...

Rantanplan
11-29-2010, 10:56 PM
Yeah, I sort of figured as much. I'm new to copywriting (well I did a lot of writing for my previous employer, but different scenario) so I was just wondering. Since I've never worked for an ad agency, I was wondering how money was earned and distributed, and how the value of a slogan could be determined on a monetary basis.

I mean, seriously, if an intern comes up with JUST DO IT, and never gets any financial reward, well that just sucks.

SoCalScribe
11-30-2010, 12:50 AM
Sorry if this is taboo, it's not related to screenwriting... but I know several writers here work in advertising / marketing.

Let's hypothetically assume that the person who came up with what is, in my opinion, the greatest slogan in the history of advertising, JUST DO IT, was an intern at an ad agency, working for free.

If that slogan effectively and measurably increases brand awareness and makes the company millions, does the lowly intern get any cut of the pie? Does the ad agency make more money off of it?

I ask because I'm doing some freelance copywriting for a company in Hong Kong, and it doesn't pay super well (the reality of the global market !!), but some of the brands I'm dreaming up slogans for are major international brands. If my slogan is picked up, and proves successful, I'm just wondering if I am entitled to more than say.. *cough cough * 20 or 30 bucks :)

I mean, how do you monetarily measure the worth of globally recognized slogan? Maybe you dream it up in five minutes, and your hourly rate is 30 bucks, is that seriously all you're entitled to?

It depends on your contract with your employer... but in most cases, when you're paid by a company to do work, that work product is considered "work made for hire" which essentially means that they pay you the rate they agreed on, and they then own the product of your efforts in return for that payment. If your slogan is picked up and used internationally, that would be a job well done, and incentive for them to hire you again.

As much as it may seem unfair that you work hard and end up making the company millions thanks to your hard work... flip the situation around. If you were to come up with a slogan that ruined the company's image or was a horrible branding misstep, would it be fair for the company to turn around and say, "We paid you $30 for the work, but it turned out so badly that we want you to pay us millions of dollars in lost revenue."? The company is offering you goods (money) in exchange for services (your work), and afterwards, they own the product you created for them, to use as they see fit. If you feel you're entitled to something more than the initial compensation for your work, it needs to be spelled out in the contract.

Besides, imagine how hard it would be to prove that your slogan was responsible for a company's success. Not only would you have to prove that you came up with the slogan (obviously), but you'd also have to prove that it was the slogan itself and not the company's use of the slogan (i.e. their marketing strategy) that was the source of all profits. "Just do it" is an amazing slogan and Nike made a fortune off of branding that slogan... but it wasn't those three words by itself; it was the strength and strategy of the advertising campaign itself that made "Just do it" a household slogan. Unless the company is also paying you to market the slogan and be involved in their advertising campaign strategy, it's going to be very hard to argue that your slogan alone entitles you to more money than they originally paid you.

As a sometimes-freelancer myself, the best advice I can give you is to set a rate at the outset that covers a reasonable fee for your time and assumes that payment will be all you receive. You can try to argue for bonuses or contingent compensation in the event of certain thresholds of success (using your work nationally or internationally, their launching of an ad campaign around your work at a certain budget level), but in my experience it's unlikely that profit sharing or contingent comp is going to be considered for a freelancer copywriter's contract. The stance most companies take is that you work and they pay you, end of story.

Even if you're a well-known copywriter or advertising executive with experience and a track record of successful slogan writing, that's usually reflected in the price of your services, not backend deals.

instant_karma
11-30-2010, 07:20 AM
It's a little known fact that 'Just Do It' was actually second choice to 'C'mon Fatso, Just Bust a Move', but Young MC wouldn't let them use it.

Rantanplan
11-30-2010, 07:54 AM
It's a little known fact that 'Just Do It' was actually second choice to 'C'mon Fatso, Just Bust a Move', but Young MC wouldn't let them use it.

I can see how that must've been a tough call...

Anyway, re. ad agencies, I thought maybe copywriters got bonuses if their pitch landed the agency the account, became a world wide phenomenon, that kind of stuff.

But I just found out that since I'm outsourced by a company who is outsourced by an agency who doesn't want the clients to know, we are all under a non-disclosure agreement and I can't even list the big client on my CV. Oh well!

Thanks for the observations.

NikeeGoddess
11-30-2010, 08:04 AM
I can see how that must've been a tough call...

Anyway, re. ad agencies, I thought maybe copywriters got bonuses if their pitch landed the agency the account, became a world wide phenomenon, that kind of stuff.

But I just found out that since I'm outsourced by a company who is outsourced by an agency who doesn't want the clients to know, we are all under a non-disclosure agreement and I can't even list the big client on my CV. Oh well!

Thanks for the observations.like someone said earlier, the bonus would be a job offer.

if you're a subcontractor then it's not your client.
yeah, i know this sucks. i've worked directly indirectly for some of the most important people in the world but i can't ask them for a reference.

Scripted77
11-30-2010, 10:23 AM
It's a little known fact that 'Just Do It' was actually second choice to 'C'mon Fatso, Just Bust a Move', but Young MC wouldn't let them use it.

Actually, the true origin of "Just Do It" is pretty interesting. The guy who co-runs the advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy came up with the phrase based on a real-life prisoner execution.

I can't remember the killer's name, but he was the last man put to death in the United States by firing squad. A newspaper revealed his last words were "Let's do it." Well, Dan Wieden liked the phrase, so he tweaked it a bit, and one of the most popular taglines of all time was born.

Of course he didn't reveal the origin until much, much later. Incidentally, Wieden & Kennedy is one of the best and most respected ad agencies in the world.

Pasquali56
11-30-2010, 12:01 PM
When I started working at Manhattan ad agencies in the late 70's (including stints at BBDO and Benton and Bowles), top copywriters and art directors made big, big bucks. Top creative directors at the biggest agencies were highly recruited and could earn contracts worth $200k to $300k per year (at that time, big money). Yes, they also had bonuses, but they were based on agency profits -- never on how successful a campaign was (although a really successful campaign could help increase client billing and thereby increase agency revenue/profits). With today's economy and the death of traditional media expenditures (especially print), the whole agency world has changed.

With that said, one thing hasn't changed -- and that's that advertising copywriters (and art directors) are not paid based on the success of a slogan or campaign -- unless you can make that arrangement with a client. But the chances of a client making an arrangement like that are slim to none, because there are so many variables that come into play other than advertising. Like distribution of the product for one. And quality of the product/service.

BurOak
12-05-2010, 10:27 PM
As a veteran of J. Walter Thompson and McCann, among others, I can sum up the answer in one word: Nope.