Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
Bad Boy

It took me a while to decide how to go about this post. But I finally made up my mind, and decided to tackle it my own way. Mainly by mentioning all the parties involved, instead of anonymously.

I used to work at marchfirst in Atlanta not too long ago, two years maybe (wow, actually two years to this date!). And we had this Creative Director who was a real piece of work. I won’t go into details, but I can’t find any good things to say about him, except maybe that he was Hungarian and my dad is too, but that’s about it. So m1 went bankrupt and stuff. I moved to Chicago. Got a job. Got married. Moved on.

One day my friend Tom, who worked with me at m1, sent me a link to the place that our creative director is currently working at. Pearson Branded is the name of the firm, out in California. Tom said “don’t miss the portfolio”. I didn’t. To my surprise I found projects (McDonald’s and Zurich) I worked on at m1 on their site and they are just sitting there claiming it was done by them. Just so they can expand their client list. Ridiculous.

What the hell is wrong with them? I mean, is this right? did they spend endless hours working on these projects? did they have to put up with our creative director?

I sent them an email. Never heard back.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Sep.11.2002 BY Armin
Hrant’s comment is:

Time for a lawyer's letter, dude.

(But don't actually go to court - it's not worth it.)


On Sep.11.2002 at 02:50 PM
Kiran’s comment is:

Their site does not work in IE 5.2.1 (OS X) which goes to show you that besides stealing work from other firms and their staff, they can't even develop their own to work properly. Sheesh.

On Sep.11.2002 at 03:35 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

In this era of changing jobs it's a common occurance. Did you work on this stuff by yourself, or on a team? It gets touchy, and it does communicate that the firm Person had those clients (which is not true) but this happens all the time. In reality mFirst or the client most likely has exclusive rights to the images and calling a lawyer is no help. When multiple people work on a job who has the right to put it in their portfolio? Does a creative director have the right to take CD credit on everything the designers under them do? Very common. This has happened to me on multiple occasions. In my own work, if I'm a subcontractor or working with a team I credit work as 'agency:________' or 'with____________' ... it's not an easy question though.

On Sep.11.2002 at 03:45 PM
Armin’s comment is:

It is quite touchy. I worked on these projects with a group.

I think it's natural to put it in your portfolio, because otherwise designers wouldn't have anything to show for their work. But to be another firm and state that the work was done by your firm, when it was done somewhere else, is not right. And it does happen all the time. But that doesn't make it right.

Time for a lawyer's letter, dude.

I hate lawyers more than I hate this subject.

On Sep.11.2002 at 03:53 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

> I hate lawyers more than I hate this subject.

Me too. I'm proposing you abuse them.


On Sep.11.2002 at 04:26 PM
Armin’s comment is:

We are being charged money as we speak man.

On Sep.11.2002 at 04:30 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

What if say the guy really worked on them, alone, (hypothetical, I know that's not the case here) and now he's with a new firm as their new CD ... is it okay for that firm to show his work as theirs? It's almost more honest than showing work done by old staff that's not their anymore, isn't it?

On Sep.11.2002 at 05:02 PM
Armin’s comment is:

The only way I would see it appropriate is if the guy would start his own company AND mentioning that the work was done by him with previous employers.

Work is not like rollover minutes, you can't keep using it towards your new employer.

Ok, one more metaphor, and then that's it. Work is not a desk accessory you take from job to job. Although... I do have a mouse, that's all old and dirty, that I've had for three years. And THAT I carry from job to job.

On Sep.11.2002 at 05:16 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Ok, good response. How would he word that? Done "with marchFIRST" or something?

On Sep.11.2002 at 05:53 PM
Armin’s comment is:

It could be something like what I did with my personal portfolio. Where I put the name of the company below the title of each project. It might not be perfect, but I acknowledge, where each project was developed.

On Sep.11.2002 at 07:15 PM
todd’s comment is:

Yeah! What Armin said.

On Sep.11.2002 at 08:25 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

I do it on my site as well. It can be a sticky issue though. I have a friend who was a senior designer at a motion graphics shop. He left, started his own studio, and now basically his company's site and his old company's site feature all the exact same work. Pretty weird and confusing.

On Sep.11.2002 at 08:51 PM
pedro vit’s comment is:

This discussion is quite interesting and would require a lot of ink (is there such thing as webink??)to even start understanding it.

There is a very relevant note in October 2002 HOW magazine - page 8 under a Web Poll "Do you get permission from your clients before using work created for them in your portfolio?". The answer is surprising!!!

Furthermore the note makes reference to an article appeaering in HOW's October 2001 Legal Ease column, pages 26-29 entitled "Is it mine??" and which is available on the web at HOWdesign.com/editorial/col_oct01.html

Guess it will be very good to read it carefully and ponder on all these issues about who owns what, what's ethical, etc etc (and above all avoid a future legal battle!!! as much as we hate lawyers!!!)

On Sep.12.2002 at 10:53 AM
pedro vit’s comment is:


Never trust a magazine to print the real thing.

The address given by HOW to recover the article is, guess what??, wrong.

Suggest you use the following complete address and the article appears in such page ready for downloading:


Dont blame me if it doesnt work (I havnt had the time to download it but will do so shortly)

On Sep.12.2002 at 11:02 AM
pedro vit’s comment is:

Sorry again but the address given doesnt work either.

I wonder who designs web pages???

Is HOW aware that what it offers doesnt fulfill??

No way to download the article (or if someone can please let me know).

Suggest you go for the past issue of HOW.

On Sep.12.2002 at 11:06 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Those HOW people. First, lousy covers. Now, broken links. What next? a horrible web site?

Oh! wait... they already have a horrible web site.

On Sep.12.2002 at 11:13 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

You're right Pedro. I explicitly state in my work agreements that I retain the right to use the work in my own promotional material. I've only had one client who has had a problem with that. It's more of an issue when you're a staffer within an organization. Usually, if you are an employee, you have no rights, and the organization has them. Legally, the work you create while there is theirs, not yours. Ethically, it's another issue. Like I posted above, for the potential client, it's almost *more* honest to see the work of the people who are going to work on your potential project, even if their earlier work was done at other firms. I think it's more shady for a sales rep to go out and get work for his firm with a portfolio full of work from designers who are no longer with the company. This is of course very common at Pentagram, Landor, etc.

On Sep.12.2002 at 11:15 AM
Armin’s comment is:

"Do you get permission from your clients before using work created for them in your portfolio?". The answer is surprising!!!

For those of you who don't have HOW handy, the answer is:

YES: 19%

NO: 81%

On Sep.12.2002 at 11:21 AM
Hrant’s comment is:

I *am* surprised! So many liars in that 19%!


On Sep.12.2002 at 01:32 PM
brad askew’s comment is:

I've been "threaten" by a studio for showing work in my portfolio that I designed for them. (Solely on my own, only participation from there part was signing my check and giving me the project outline.)

Silly me for never reading contracts.

On Sep.12.2002 at 03:59 PM
Armin’s comment is:

What was the threat? a head's horse on your bed?

We had a problem with a junior designer who left our company to start up his own with a buddy of his, and all you could see on their new site was work done here. And, obviously, his new firm claimed to have done the work. We had to send them a letter from a lawyer to cease an desist, it took them a while, but it worked.

On Sep.13.2002 at 03:58 PM