Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Let Me Defend the Johnson Campaign

You know I don't do that very often, right?

A very nice summation of the "story" here at Brand New (hat tip: Warren Redlich, publisher of Independent Political Report):

Two months ago, Tampa, FL-based SPARK published on its online quarterly publication a conceptual, speculative identity for 2016 Libertarian Party U.S. presidential nominee, Gary Johnson. In the short time since, his campaign has adopted the concept without consent (aka 'stolen the work') from Spark.

Yes, you read that right:

  • Some guys publicly, and without any solicitation from the campaign, suggested that the campaign do X;
  • The campaign did X;
  • The guys now think they were "stolen" from.

Or, as SPARK CEO Tony Miller puts it at Bay News 9 (also h/t Warren):

I think there was some surprise that they hadn't contacted us first and said "hey, do you mind if we use this" or "hey, we are going to use this" ... I think they are probably using that thinking it was out there in the public domain for them to use and probably don't have a full understanding (of what) creative license is all about ... You just can't take somebody's work without permission or without potentially paying for it.

SPARK produced a cute little video accusing the Johnson campaign of "swiping" their offering (h/t Joe Buchman, also of IPR):

So ...

Would  publicly crediting SPARK with making a useful suggestion have been the nice thing to do? Yes.

Was not doing so a dick move? Well, sort of.

But I can't really work up any tears for SPARK.

They could have waited for the campaign to come to them for a proposal before creating one (unlikely, unless there were previously existing ties between the company and the campaign, but that's how it goes).

Or they could privately have worked up the proposal on unsolicited spec and offered it to the campaign with some kind of pre-disclosure agreement that if it was liked it would be bought, and that if it was not bought it would not be used. The campaign might not have agreed to look at it under those conditions, but again, that's how it goes.

Instead, they decided to loudly, publicly shout "HEY GARY JOHNSON, WHY DON'T YOU DO THIS?" in a self-promotional venue. That is, they were using the proposal to drum up business for themselves from potential clients other than the Johnson campaign. It was advertising by hypothetical demonstration. "Here's how good we are -- see, this is what we would be doing if we were doing this guy's campaign."

Now they are bellyaching that he did what they publicly said he should do ... without their permission? What the f**k?

And keep in mind that it's about 99% likely that Gary Johnson never saw SPARK's offering or had any idea that his campaign consultants or staffers had decided to run with a very similar theme until SPARK started griping about it.

What he likely saw was the final product. He's probably very surprised to learn that he's been paying good money to one company for work that another company had already done and published.

If I was Gary, I'd probably be firing someone over this, because I wouldn't want lazy, dishonest assholes charging me for other people's work and setting me up for public embarrassment.

And I'd probably be going ahead and publicly thanking SPARK for their freely, publicly offered work because that's the nice thing to do and it would cost me nothing to do it.

But if I was SPARK, I'd consider a name change, because after the shit they just pulled their name should be mud among potential clients.

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