June 30, 2008

My Two Cents

Credit has been a topic that has been long looming over the interactive industry for sometime now.

The traditional agency and digital agency relationship has blossomed into a full blown collaborative marriage and the lines of vendor client relationship have been blurred to look more like full on creative collaboration.

My gut instincts tell me that the topic hasn't been fully addressed until now because in many cases it is really not that big of an issue when you boil it down to the root of why credit is so important.

At the end of the day its not really a deal breaker between either client or digital vendor.

This is an issue that needs to be evolved more than it needs to be solved. Similar to the way Hollywood shares credit when awards are doled out for best picture. The CG team doesn’t come up for the award, MAYBE they get mentioned in the thank you speech but that is definitely not to be expected and if they aren't mentioned there isn't some big press release as to why or why not. They get their own award for technical achievement in some secondary award show that isn't televised.

Again this debate only exists in the very ego-centric realm of recognition, awards.

At the end of the day its about doing great work and feeling great about the work that we do. Its about creating something positive for our culture and work that advances us as an industry.

Unless the project is simply amazing and the budget is paltry, credit can sometimes be a factor in making the decision as to the worth of taking the project on or not.

Sometimes a PR project comes along and its not about the money but more about what kind of amazing things you can do with the brand and showcase your studio’s skills using the brand as the stage. In that case credit is critical and needs to be negotiated at the onset of the project. I cannot remember a single case where we turned down good money on a project where the client absolutely refused or simply could not give credit where credit was due.

I have personally produced a number of great projects that have won awards but will never have my name or the name of the shop I was with associated with its credit.

Its not entirely a bad thing.

Humility sometimes rears its awkward face in times when its hard to be humble, and maybe its a lesson we must embrace in order to not lose site of the big picture. Great work, regardless of accolades and awards.

There is rarely a case where a digital shop didn’t get public credit but couldn't show the work to a potential client or agency in order to get new work. Even if they aren't allowed to list it on their website portfolio it can still be part of an internal presentation for business development.

At the end of the day the level of credit should be equal to the overall level of involvement with any given project. A digital shop cannot expect to receive full credit for executing an agency’s vision, regardless of how awesome the digital execution is. But if the digital shop DID indeed conceive the idea or alter it enough for full credit to be given, then that is the case in which the agency needs to step up and give credit where it is due.

Most digital agencies and 14 year old kids can build a simple web site, only a select few can build a website exceptionally well. Even fewer can conceptualize, script, shoot, frame 3D, and produce an entire campaign without the ideas and assets (footage, copywriting, etc.) that the traditional agency delivers. So no matter how important the digital shop was in the execution, the efforts put fourth by the traditional agency cannot be ignored no matter how minimal because ultimately it is a vendor client relationship where the traditional agencies are delivering a product that will determine if they keep their clients business or not.

We need to all understand how symbiotic this new dynamic is and be sensitive to every collaborator when it comes to credit so that we all win in the end.

This kind of public strife shines a negative light and doesn’t help the advancement of the shifts that are taking place one bit, resistances are natural and healthy but need to be overcome in mature and fair ways.

We need to all play nice.

Lebowitz and his shop Big Spaceship should have gotten mention from BBDO and had their efforts recognized during the acceptance speech or in some print ads thanking them for all they contributed. BBDO deserves the award for collaborating with Big Spaceship on this website and having the wisdom of knowing that only a top notch digital shop could have pulled the site off as well as they did.

We need to evolve together and share the praise as well as the criticism of our industry and be a more cohesive network of creative professionals.


Ben said...

The only reason I don't care much for the whole movie industry analogy is that the director / actors / actresses who do get major credit also work very hard throughout the entire scope of the movie; long hours what not. My feeling is, for a lot of micro sites, if the client went directly to the digital agency, more than likely the site would still win numerous awards. So that being said in regards to movies, CG alone isn't going to win a movie an Oscar. Catch my drift at all? I agree that is a topic that needs to be addressed and I'm glad you're putting it out there for the public eye to see and analyze.

Craig A. Elimeliah said...


You cant discount the client relationship, account management and overall handling of the brand, timing, selection of digital agency and accountability the agencies have.

With that said, i think both trad and digi agencies have dually important roles.

What about a movie like Star Wars or Matrix where the CG IS the whole movie?

When Lord of The Rings won 11 Oscars you saw the awards for the

Art Direction

Ok i don't need to go any further I think you get the point. Cannes needs to follow a similar format for technical and artistic achievement awards.


Ben said...


I totally agree with you. What I am merely getting at is the small minority of sites that end up winning awards such as FWA that are concocted directly between the client and digital agency. No, an FWA isn't a Cannes Gold Cyber Lion. However, I think it is possible that the direct client relationship with the digital agency will start to grow much more over the next 5 - 10 years and is already starting to at some shops. Thus, micro sites could start to cut out the middle man traditional agency. Also, I am speaking purely about the interactive micro site. There will always be a need for brand management that traditional agencies bring.

Craig A. Elimeliah said...


I agree with you but also think your being a bit idealistic. How can you cut out the microsite when its going to be the most important part of the overall campaign?