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    9 Replies Latest reply on May 23, 2009 9:44 AM by DeanMalibu

    Showing spec work verses actually produced work

    Iwrite Pioneer
      When it comes to judging advertising agencies, clients like to see work that you have done. However, with me transitioning from working for agencies to working for myself, most of the samples I have were done at another agency. I may have created, supervised the design and wrote the copy but I did it at another agency.

      I am struggling with whether or not to show this work on my website or to show spec work (concepts that I have come up with that demonstrate my skills and talents but haven't been used). I don't want to confuse clients but I also want to show them the real work that I have done. I am going back and forth on this issue. Thoughts?

      Would you be okay with me showing the real work as long as I explained it or do I even need to explain it? Or should I just show the spec work?
        • Re: Showing spec work verses actually produced work
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Showing spec work verses actually produced work is a great question.
          Everybody in business should have an Accountant, A Lawyer and maybe an Insurance Agent.
          Now is the time to talk to your Lawyer.
          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Showing spec work verses actually produced work
            DomainDiva Ranger
            Whatever work you have produced is yours. However you must identify the work as being done while you were employed at XYZ. This can be done with some print on the artwork in a visible location and in visible print.

            As long as you are honest about the circumstances under which the artwork was produced there will not be any problems. There would be a problem if you were to use the artwork you produced for XYZ for ABC or another new client.

            My visual designer has a huge portfolio of work he has produced for many clients...all identified and not used for any other clients.
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            • Re: Showing spec work verses actually produced work
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              Obviously, the work you did for other agencies was work-for-hire -- i.e., you have no intellectual rights to it (unless you had specific written agreements to the contrary, which would be extremely rare). Even so, you were a contributor to the campaigns and projects you worked on, and that's exactly what I would say. I would show the "real" work and say you contributed to it. There's no need to over-explain what your specific contribution was in each case, unless someone asks -- then be honest about the role you played.

              I know you're a little skeptical of some business owners' awareness of the whole advertising game, but most managers to whom you'll be promoting your services understand the "team" nature of an innovative marketing campaign. They won't expect you to have a portfolio full of brilliant projects that you conceived and executed all by yourself -- but they will expect you have a portfolio full of brilliant projects that you participated in.

              It's a good idea to talk to some allies who are still with your old employer about the project work you intend to highlight -- and if a potential client wants to verify your role on one of those projects (I know I would), then give the person to whom the potential client will speak a quick "heads up" call so he or she is prepared to tell the client something that helps you. If you get the client's work, send the person who spoke on your behalf a thank you note and something like a gift card for a favorite restaurant. Until your firm builds a reputation of its own, you have to work off your personal rep just as you would if you were looking for a regular job.

              Hope this helps. Best wishes.
                • Re: Showing spec work verses actually produced work
                  GrowthCurve Adventurer
                  Lighthouse is giving you spot-on advice. Read that post again and take it to heart.

                  The work that you did for a previous employer is most certainly not "yours" to do with as you see fit. If you were to take that work and put it on your Web site, you run the risk of upsetting the employer on whose nickel you did the work and the client for which the work was done.

                  We ran into exactly this issue through my wife's online marketing agency when we saw that one of our freelance designers had posted on her Web site the names and work samples of our clients, citing them as her own (she worked on them, yes, but those clients are not hers.)

                  As the agency who actually brought in and provided creative direction on these projects, we felt that it was wrong for the freelance designer to use these names and work samples without our permission (and the permission of our clients).

                  We worked things out with the designer because we like her and want to help her grow, but it does not change the fact that she should not have done this unilaterally. It actually put us both at risk because some of the work that was on her site was specifically prohibited from this kind of use by our client.

                  I think this is definitely a case where you should seek permission instead of forgiveness.