Just recently, the Ontario Pharmaceutical Marketing Association (OPMA) sent out a request for proposal (RFP) for a creative agency. At first glance, nothing here is out of the ordinary. But dig a little deeper; this organization is undertaking a creative search and the winner will actually work for free. Well, to be more specific, there is no cash compensation, but the victorious agency will get recognition in printed materials along with tickets to a wine and cheese party for up to four people.
Maybe there are ad agencies that have spare time or are willing to donate their creative efforts to an association. If there are, proceed with caution. It is one matter to volunteer efforts for a good cause, as there are many not-for-profit associations that truly deserve help. Big Pharma, however, does not fall into this category. An organization of the size of OMTA just might, but since they are funded by the pharmaceutical industry, we question this.
Perhaps this is some form of test for OMTA to seed through potential creative agencies and determine who is really deserving of their contract. Yet without any indication of further paid work, it will be hard to motivate premier firms to work pro bono.
This latest trend is quite the concern for firms trying to grow their business and remain profitable at the same time. It is one thing to research and coordinate for a pitch. It is a whole other to carry out assignments with any immediate compensation or, in the very least, a light at the end of the tunnel.