Spec 'design' competitions listed under 'things that suck' on Designers who blog

The blog Things that suck touches on the design industry, politics, and American life in general.

It's perfect timing really, as just this week I came across an announcement (thanks Ronnie) concerning what I have on my own list of 'Things that suck' - unethical spec competitions.

The United Way Logo Contest for Toronto is, in my opinion, a spec contest.
(more inside)

Being a bit ruffled over the contest, I sent a Protest Letter to the United Way. From their response, I felt they were ignoring the concerns of the design industry so posted my thoughts on Designers who blog. Yes, non profits do ask for probono work, but do they run a similar contest for attorneys and accountants to pick just the one? Not on your life.

Should the United Way be above design contest rules as set out by Society of Graphic Designers of Canada where this is being held? Should the United Way be above the contest rules as set out by GAG? My personal opinion is a resounding NO.

Since I posted this on Designers who blog: Things that suck, people are coming forward with different responses from the United Way than the one I received several days ago.

"We will be meeting with your colleagues from RGD in the near future to better understand the position and to determine steps moving forward."

Excellent, but until this is resolved, the United Way Logo Contest will stay on my personal list of ‘Things that suck'.

For further reading ...

Creative Latitude has several articles on the subject:

When a "contest" is not a contest by Jeff Fisher, Engineer of Creative Identity, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

United Way and Speculative Work By Art Javid

Design Contests Are Dangerous For Your Business By Robert Wurth, Creative Director, Freshly Squeezed Design

AdLand ad-rag.com has several on offer in their rants section:

Spec Sucks for Everyone By caffeinegoddess

Who needs ad creative? By Bill_Bernbucks

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD Ontario)
For a bit of background regarding spec work, read Why Speculative Work is Unethical, a letter sent by the executive director of The Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD Ontario) to the editor of Marketing magazine.

Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC)
When protesting the 2010 Olympics logo contest, the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada stated …“A spec design request or contest means asking designers to work for free. For designers, this is a waste of time and it also erodes long-term buyer-designer relationships. GDC advises its members not to participate in requests for spec design or design contests and recommends that organizations decide which designer is right for a project by reviewing portfolios of previous work and looking at the designers' understanding of the needs of the project.”

I truly wish there was a happy ending to the continuing Spec saga, but as long as Designers agree to work on speculation, clients will continue to make the request (paraphrasing from an apt statement made by Matt SamyciaWood )

Adland® works best in Brave browser. Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by donating via Paypal.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 2 MB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png txt doc xls pdf ppt pps odt ods odp wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 dir dcr ogg m4v.
Plywood's picture

Here's what's gonna happen:
1. The unwashed masses will submit horrible logos.
2. Shitty bottom feeder designers will submit horrible logos
3. Check out the guidelines - they're going to get some truly crappy submissions
4. A horrible dog's breakfast logo will be selected.

Why has logo design become a circus freakshow where clients expect to get it for free?

Dabitch's picture

Good post thecatat.

Whenever people ask designers, creatives, ad men, photographers etc to work for free - with the usual "and then we'll kick some paying work your way leter" or somesuch - they should consider how often they'd work for free.
We have expenses too.

I justwanted to add that it seems quite popular now, as part of the "engage the consumer" type feelgood to announce design and even direct your own ad competitions. Not that it's a recent trend, it's just everywhere you turn right now.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Funny over at Adage, they're asking Will Viewers Like Ads For The People, By The People?

thecatat's picture