AntiSpec founder Mark Collins has railed against a crowdsourcing design competition currently being run on Blank You Very Much (BYVM). The exclusive competition offers a "very special chance to re-interpret official assets for the classic iconic world famous Coca-Cola® brand", and offers a grand prize of $5000. Strict guidelines are provided, and BYVM/Coca-Cola naturally retain the rights to every submission. Despite Coca-Cola being a worldwide brand, the contest is only open to US residents for "legal reasons".
Collins told .net that he believed Coca-Cola ultimately had "zero interest in the wellbeing of the pool of designers it is fishing into". He dismissed the "prize bait" of $5,000 as "ridiculously small change to a multi-billion dollar organisation", and argued that the competition had been invented for two reasons: "First, to line BYVM pockets. It says in their small print that any design uploaded for any of their competitions grants BYVM full ownership. This means they can sell T-shirts or whatever they want and the artist gets nothing. If an artist deletes their entry, tough. BYVM still claims the designer's work. It makes my blood boil just typing that.
"Secondly, Coca-Cola gets access to potentially thousands of designs. They pay one winner but they are free to use all designs as they wish in the future. So if a designer who didn't win happens to see their design on a multi-million dollar Coca-Cola TV advert in three years time, tough."
The counterpoint to spec work is often that it's only a bit of fun and no-one's forced to enter a competition, but Collins said he has no truck with such sentiments: "Aspiring designers don't see the bigger picture. They don't see that it devalues our profession. They don't see that corporations like Coca-Cola are taking advantage for their own gain. All they see is the carrot dangling in front of them." He also reckoned many designers entering the competition won't have any idea about the IP implications, which he said BYVM "deliberately hide in their small print," and that this is "clearly taking advantage of young designers".
Collins added that larger brands should be more responsible in understanding the impact of spec work and set a better example: "And the real shame is they probably do understand already, at least to a certain degree. Large successful businesses run on informed calculated decisions. Somebody at Coca-Cola decided that paying small change for thousands of hours of design work was too good to pass up."
We approached Blank You Very Much for comment regarding the accusation that spec work is detrimental to the design industry and takes advantage of creators. Jeff Gluck told us: "Blank You Very Much is a platform for brands to truly engage their audience and interact with official assets. It has nothing to do with spec work because there is no 'job' available per se. Coke is not looking for a new logo or anything, [they] are simply allowing their fans the chance to officially 'play' with Coke logos and showcase their design skills. It is meant to be a fun contest and if anyone doesn't want to enter, they don't have to! In fact, some of the designers who have won our past contests have received offers for work from our brands! We will also be working with music bands and other great partners who want to creatively interact with their fan base! Overall, its a great platform for the design community, and was built by artists for artists!"