Note, Alex suggested in the comments that this post should have a soundtrack. It does and here it is:
After much hand wringing and thinking I have come to a conclusion regarding campaigns submitted before they were due to run, approved or even properly thought out, and here's our new policy.
I will no longer delete ad campaigns that have been submitted to Adland at the brand nor the ad agencies request - or anyone elses request for that matter.
I will correct the submissions, place them in SPEC WORK category, pixellate trademarks, add official statements from brands or agencies to the post and add to the information we have on the ads, but I will no longer remove the ad images.
There are several reasons for this. Ad campaigns submitted to us are likely submitted to quite a few other ad sites as well, and I can honestly say that I have never seen them remove or correct anything. By adding a correction coupled with the ad images, people researching the ad campaign, such as bloggers or journalists can find that the campaign did not run here, and what the campaign actually is instead (internal spec work, unapproved client work or whatever it may be). With spec ads even winning prestigious awards like Cannes Lions these days, I think it's pretty safe to say that you can never get an ad offline once it's online anyway - but it would be really nice to have a place to check if the ad really ran or not in the sea of adblogs who only list ads+credits, and have no other information regarding any campaign.
Also, It is not my job to keep your creative department in check. If it is, I need a raise (remember that I do this pro-bono on my spare time). If I get ads submitted from "firstname.lastname@example.org" I have no reason to suspect that the work is not kosher, and it steals away time from posting new work when I keep having to go back and remove non-kosher work several weeks later.
I realize that ad agencies may dislike this policy, fearing that they might get in trouble with clients for spec work done within their walls. I understand your need to keep it inside, and have always been very accommodating in the past, helping to track down other places where the ads have been published and only accepting work submitted by the 'official' person at said agency after such an incident. Many things have changed now with the web, and they added up to push me to implement this policy. The inconsistency of ad agencies or clients to have everyone working for them to march to the same tune is driving me batty.
For example, work that is submitted here but under embargo, shows up on youtube weeks before I am allowed to breathe of the campaigns existence. Often this is due to inconsistent release dates at ad agency versus web agency, or ad agency vs PR agency, or ad agency vs post production agency. I've watched you guys dance out of sync for years and it's only getting messier. Work submitted is sometimes "strategically" submitted to certain ad publications, like Lürzers archive and us, only to suddenly be discovered by people who dislike it, and then agency admits the client had nothing to do with it. This happens so often we don't know if we can trust the agency anymore. Don't be one of those agencies, let the people who work for you know your policy now.
Work submitted by photographers that were lead to believe it was bought to run is often unfairly pulled - we like showing off peoples skills here and it really isn't the photographers problem that you didn't manage to sell the campaign. Allow them to put their work in Spec and I will happily leave the agency name out of it.
And the opposite, work submitted by agencies who forgot to negotiate proper releases with photographer will not be removed either - it is not my fault that you fucked up, and even a nano-seconds publication counts as a publication so removing the ads does nothing to "fix things" you still owe the photographer money. Go sort it out with them - I'll help smooth things over by adding links to their sites or anything else you might suggest to make them a little happier though.
We've come a long way from the days when I had to beg on my knees for submissions and everyone checked "with the legal department" before sending us anything. The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction it seems, with record amount of removal requests in the past month. Since people working for or at agencies are confused about the internal policy at their own place of work these days, I can only help by laying down my own policy, and here it's quite simple:
I will not remove any campaigns from Adland, ever again.
Delete Key billboard created by Ji Lee and NYSAT (New York Street Advertising Takeover)