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Agency invites brands to pay for creative with beer or nappies instead of money

A creative agency believes asking brands for money in exchange for creative services is increasingly problematic. As a solution, it is offering brands the opportunity to pay for creative solutions via contra.

“Are you a brand that sells beer? Why not pay in beer? Do you make nappies? Transact in nappies. If you sell flights and hotel rooms, why not buy creative with them? That’s right. Creative for contra,” the company’s proposition says.

The agency is inviting brands to submit their briefs

Common Ventures is behind the Creative for Contra initiative and is inviting brands to submit their briefs here.

The idea, the company said, stemmed from the constant stream of industry news about marketing budgets shrinking, swelling or getting “put somewhere else entirely”.

“Whatever the case – the issue is ultimately money,” a statement from Common Ventures explained.

“These pressures trickle down to creative companies like us. Spending cold hard cash on creative thinking has become harder and harder for clients to justify. It’s an odd dynamic, as businesses certainly value creative problem solving within their own organisation, but justifying budget for external creative input is tricky business.”

The company said despite creative agencies claiming they’re “different now” – cheaper, more efficient and faster – they’re “still asking for money”.

“And maybe that’s the problem,” the statement said.

If creative companies are indeed creative, the company explained, then they should be finding innovative ways to receive payment for the work they do.

The Common Ventures founders in 2012

“It’s an interesting proposition,” Common Ventures said, encouraging all creatives to adopt the approach. “Brands can get around their budget constraints by simply ignoring them, creative companies get something of value for their creative expertise, and (most importantly) get the chance to prove they are worth spending money with on a permanent basis.”

Common Ventures said it currently works with “some of Australia’s most exciting challenger brands” and is seeking “bold companies with problems to fix”.

The company was established in 2012 after four senior staff – Jane Burhop, James Crawley, Brian Merrifield and Damian Damjanovski – from Ogilvy left to set up the agency which was described as “part technology incubator and part advertising agency”.

In April, Damjanovski departed Common Ventures, with Merrifield stepping in as managing director.

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