Does cre­ativ­ity pay?

Pro­fes­sion­als ar­gue their cases in IAA de­bate se­ries

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Billings - By DALJIT DHESI daljit@thes­

WHAT is an idea worth? Are cre­ators be­ing justly re­warded for cre­ativ­ity to thrive? Or are brand own­ers and those who com­mis­sion work not ad­e­quately re­ward­ing idea gen­er­a­tors?

Then again, cre­ativ­ity can­not thrive with­out the fi­nan­cial power of those who back those ideas. Has the time ar­rived for idea gen­er­a­tors to profit from those same ideas that are very suc­cess­ful? How will idea gen­er­a­tors com­pen­sate clients on ideas that defy the promised suc­cess?

These were some of the thought-pro­vok­ing ar­gu­ments brought up at the In­ter­na­tional Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (IAA) Ig­nite De­bate Se­ries, pre­sented in part­ner­ship with Jaf­fer & Menon (ad­vo­cates & so­lic­i­tors) held in Kuala Lumpur last week.

Themed “The Great In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty (IP) De­bate: Does Cre­ativ­ity Pay?”, it was at­tended by over 100 pro­fes­sion­als from var­i­ous cre­ative cir­cles and the le­gal fra­ter­nity, along with clients across mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries.

To ex­tract views and points of ar­gu­ment from di­verse per­spec­tives, the de­bate panel was rep­re­sented by Tony Savarimuthu (Dentsu LHS CEO,), Jo­han Ishak (Me­dia Prima Tele­vi­sion Net­works CEO), and Prashant Ku­mar (En­tropia founder and se­nior part­ner) on the op­pos­ing side; while John Chacko (IAA-Malaysia pres­i­dent), Janet Toh (Shearn De­lam­ore & Co part­ner), and Vas­an­thi Rasathu­rai (Vin Law Co part­ner) rep­re­sented the af­fir­ma­tive team.

Har­man­dar Singh (Mar­ket­ing Mag­a­zine founder and CEO) mod­er­ated the ses­sion.

The de­bate reached deep into the minds of the au­di­ence as salient points were raised.

Kick­ing off the af­fir­ma­tive’s open­ing salvo, Chacko said: “If cre­ative agen­cies wish to lobby to re­visit the client-agency con­tract on the is­sue of com­pen­sa­tion, re­mem­ber, it works both ways.

“For in­stance, for agen­cies to own the IP re­lated to their cre­ative work, in or­der to en­joy resid­ual in­come in which­ever way, then very likely, the fee paid by the client is go­ing to be very much lower. If cre­ators wish to share in the gain, then, should the cre­ative cam­paign prove un­suc­cess­ful, they must be will­ing to share in the pain.”

Savarimuthu re­but­ted. “Cre­ative in­dus­tries can­not op­er­ate at bar­gain base­ment stan­dards. So what is the worth of an idea and who in the or­gan­i­sa­tional chain de­cides its worth and value? he asked.

“There is a lot more money spent on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an idea than the nur­tur­ing, de­vel­op­ment and craft­ing of the idea. Ex­cel­lent ideas and those who pro­duce them get de­val­ued in the process chain. With­out a well-crafted mes­sage with a great cre­ative idea, the amount spent on im­ple­men­ta­tion has lit­tle sense,” he noted.

Back to the af­fir­ma­tive, Toh pointed out that in­vest­ment drives cre­ativ­ity and clients cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­ativ­ity. “Suc­cess for the client equals suc­cess for the cre­ative agency. IP rights are more im­por­tant to the client than to the agency. Suc­cess of an ad­ver­tise­ment is not only in the own­er­ship of IP, it is also about suc­cess­ful ex­ploita­tion”, she quipped.

In his mo­tion, Jo­han re­marked: “Cre­ativ­ity is the raw fuel of in­no­va­tion. Like any raw fuel, it needs to be burnt for en­ergy to burst. Cre­ativ­ity needs to be di­gested into man­i­fes­ta­tion that makes eco­nomic trans­ac­tions pos­si­ble. So, we will need the left part of the brain to work with the right. The for­mer are busi­ness peo­ple and the lat­ter, artists.”

Vas­an­thi took her stand and as a mat­ter of fact said, “Un­der the Malaysian Copy­right Act 1987, in terms of own­er­ship, work made in the course of em­ploy­ment is deemed trans­ferred to the em­ployer, or work com­mis­sioned is deemed trans­ferred to the client, un­less there is an agree­ment to the con­trary.”

Prashant con­cluded for the op­po­si­tion and noted: “Cre­ativ­ity is the alchemy that turns mun­dane ob­jects into brand as­sets worth hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars. Vi­sion­ary en­trepreneurs un­der­stand the power of dreams. And use cre­ativ­ity to bridge their prod­ucts with the peo­ples’ deep­est de­sires. Like all good things in life, good cre­ativ­ity needs to be ad­e­quately paid for.”

Con­tracts aside, this co­nun­drum on the worth of an idea will go on just as it has been for hun­dreds of years.

Af­ter be­ing en­ter­tained by the in­tense ex­change of view­points, the au­di­ence voted the af­fir­ma­tive team as the one that had put for­ward a more struc­tured and point-laden ar­gu­ment.

In ad­di­tion to Jaf­far & Menon be­ing the pre­sent­ing part­ner, the event also saw Travee Trav­els, Mar­ket­ing Mag­a­zine, JDC BrandTruth and Vis­ual Re­tale as spon­sors, while Dentsu Aegis Net­work Malaysia lent sup­port as IAA’s cor­po­rate mem­ber.

IAA-Malaysia’s pur­pose for be­ing is to con­nect, in­form and rep­re­sent the mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mu­nity, with pri­mary fo­cus on knowl­edge and learn­ing and net­work­ing.

IAA, head­quar­tered in New York, was es­tab­lished in 1938 and now has a pres­ence in over 76 coun­tries.

What price?: Savarimuthu says cre­ative in­dus­tries can­not op­er­ate at bar­gain base­ment stan­dards.

No pain no gain: Chacko says cre­ators must be will­ing to share in the pain of any un­suc­cess­ful cam­paign.

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