It's time for the PR Industry to be protective 'AF' about its creative ideas

Another year, another Brewdog Brouhaha. The latest is that they've launched Punk IPA as an 'alcohol free' beer, cheekily using the AF in an FCUK way.

It's AF time the PR industry started protecting its creative ideas, argues Peter Bowles
It's AF time the PR industry started protecting its creative ideas, argues Peter Bowles
The rock star use of language will be familiar to anyone who knows Manifest’s work. The only problem… according to founder Alex Myers they pitched the idea to the client before they stopped working together:

Brewdog co-founder James Watt responded:

The Twitter storm has opened up a whole can of IPA online, with many creatives supportive of the agencies’ view that ideas are our currency in PR and to take a brand name your agency dreamed up without reimbursing you is tantamount to theft.

But I have a bit of sympathy for Brewdog, too.

They have been kings of non-alcohol beer with Nanny State for years, in a sector that is growing rapidly.

Brewdog needed to launch their biggest seller as low alcohol and could easily argue that going Punk AF is a ‘diet coke’ stretch. Indeed, Infinity Pale Ale has had an AF brand for a while:

From an in-house perspective ‘there’s no such thing as a new idea’, right? Clients are often fed ideas in PR that are memes, running throughout this ‘creative’ industry.

These are usually the same old tactics – from art installations, to tired surveys and celebrity endorsement.

On the flipside, many a PR will have a horror story of getting a very specific brief from a client, working up an amazing creative... only to find the other award-winning agency down the road had the exact same idea.

A good creative solves a strategic puzzle; two good minds can think alike as to the solution.

But the best ideas are about nuance. Small pieces of word play (I loved ‘the longest date’ by Badoo on Summer solstice last year).

The same as a brand logo can be about the tiniest lightbulb moment (US Patent 223,898) leading to different kerning and a unique piece of intellectual property.

PR creatives problem-solve and come up with great ideas for clients and should be rewarded as such. Manifest and any PR firm that sends someone an idea – whether a retained client or in a pitch process – have every reason to be angry. We’ve had a similar situation before.

The client took our idea but responded saying "the other agency was just cheaper".

Well that’s the point. Our ideas are based on years of experience and what give us value in PR.

Our ideas are worth sales, talkability and beating the competition to it. Our ideas are what this industry should be most proud of and should be celebrated.

The ad industry has a better lobby than us and is far more litigious about its ideas.

It’s time that we got together as an industry to fight to protect our work. Rather than conference after committee on measurement, we need the PRCA and CIPR to stand up for creatives across this whole land.

Without rewarding great ideas, the PR industry is just simply another press office.

Peter Bowles is co-CEO and creative lead at Dynamo PR

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