Speculative work (free of compensation and contest-based acquisition of advertising) is one that compromises the quality of work expected of professionals and that the client is entitled to and also violates long-standing ethical standards in the advertising profession worldwide.

American Advertising Federation, the most respected national organization for advertising, and American Advertising Federation of Greater Frederick (AAF-GF), the local Frederick chapter, strongly discourage the practice of requesting that design or advertising work be produced and submitted on a speculative basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project.

There are two main reasons for this position:

1. Unprofessional Work.
Real advertising results from a collaborative process between a client and the agency with the intention of developing a clear sense of the client’s objectives, competitive situation and needs. Speculative advertising competitions or processes result in a superficial assessment of the project at hand that is not grounded in a client’s business dynamics. Design creates value for clients as a result of the strategic approach advertisers take in addressing the problems or needs of the client and only at the end of that process is a “design” created. Speculative or open competitions for work based on a perfunctory problem statement will not result in the best design solution for the client.

2. Requesting work for free demonstrates a lack of respect for the advertising and the design process.
Requesting work for free reflects a lack of understanding and respect for the value of effective advertising as well as the time of the professionals who are asked to provide it. This approach, therefore, reflects on your personal practices and standards and may be harmful to the professional reputation of both you and your business.

There are almost no professions where all possible candidates are asked to do the work first, allowing the buyer to choose which one to compensate for their efforts. (Just consider the response if you were to ask a dozen accountants to do your taxes for you, from which you would then choose which one to pay!)

We realize that there are some misconceptions about advertising that might be hindering your understanding of a how an advertising agency process works. The AAF-GF stands to educate and inform the local community on best practices in advertising for agencies and industry alike.

For more information, please contact the AAF-GF President.