Your IP is BS

I understand the need for non-disclosure agreements. When it comes to things like customer data or some as-yet unreleased new technolgy you kind of need them. But advertising? Really?

I am going on record as saying there is nothing new in advertising. Period. We just repackage and rework our same old methodoly to respond to the changing needs of the market, then call it our "Intellectual Property" and act like God smiled down on us with his divine providence.

Further, agencies can't possibly own the "thinking" of their employees. It's like a bad zombie movie. I picture a balding white guy in a suit shambling after me murmuring, "Brains! Need brains!" A paycheck doesn't entitle you to all of me. It gets you projects completed, not the rights to everything that comes out of my head.

This obsession with owning IP — having some sort of proprietary right to a new way of stirring the soup of old ideas — is crazy on so many levels. But the biggest problem with it is that it fails to recognize that the biggest asset an agency offers is not its ideas, but rather the people that come up with those ideas. 

Right now the model is that we pay the employee to develop cool creative or innovative strategies or cutting edge anlytical models and then we own that. We may say our employees are important to us, but that's a lie. We couldn't care less about the employees. They are only as valuable as the next idea that we can take from them. And once they stop producing good ideas they are expendable. 

We fail to understand that nurturing smart people means valuing the person as well as the work they produce. This is how innovation happens. If a person knows that they are not valued or that their idea is worth more than you are paying them, they will always hold back or start looking elsewhere. And when they leave we're left with empty IP that doesn't have the brains to grow and nurture it.

So tell me, is that IP really all that valuable without a brain to back it up? And why do I have a sudden urge to watch a zombie flick?

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