Disregard the problem with spec work for a second, and imagine that running a design contest actually isn’t a waste of a company’s time.

Florida everglades

Everglades Nation is asking designers to submit their best work for a chance to win $15,000. That’s a sizeable budget, and one that would go a long way toward hiring an excellent designer — one who will offer much more than a single 600 x 600px submission.

But when the contest rules state the following, why not just make it $1,000,000?

“Entrant further acknowledges and agrees that, upon submission, the work becomes the sole and exclusive property of Sponsors [Everglades Nation] who shall have the right to edit, modify, publish, broadcast, publicize, market and/or distribute the submitted work(s) at their discretion at anytime or otherwise use in any way the entry, Entrant’s name and likeness, without further compensation to Entrant, whether or not judged a winner and Entrant will provide written consent upon request. This agreement will be binding upon Entrant’s heirs, successors and assigns.

“Sponsors are not responsible for administration of the competition or in the announcement of the prizes.”



In other words, it’s not actually a contest, but an open harvest of design work. That’s just foul, even by lawyer standards.

I’ve actually been bit by this before. I once submitted a proposal (not a contest, but similar) to a company who ended up choosing no one as a winner. All that time was a waste, for everyone. I can stand losing to a better design firm, but losing to the whims of the organisation is just messed up.

Sheesh. “Binding on entrants heirs, successors and assigns” – why don’t they just ask for the designers first born? What a ridiculous concept. You’re quite right that $10000 could hire a great designer. But until we all start saying NO, unfortunately this type of thing will remain a reality.

Re-effing-diculous… who would sign on for this? I guess the promise of that kind of cash can be a huge lure; blinding designers, and hacks alike into conveniently skip over the formalities. But that’s probably what they were banking on… so wrong.

If you throw enough doo-doo at the wall then some will surely stick. I suppose that’s the thinking behind this. They’ll no doubt get thousands of entries and 99% will be poor, I’d also suggest that 99% of the entries will come from non-professional sources. No problem, anyone can have a good idea, if Everglades Nation have the time to evaluate them all then good luck to them, I’m sure they’ll get something which will work just fine.

While there are certainly dangers to our profession from a perceived increase in this kind of approach I’m not particularly concerned. I’m simply reminded to make sure that I give my clients a better service, both creatively and in terms of the added value that comes from understanding their business and supporting them whenever we can.

Good thoughts David, I totally agree.

Nothing beats one-on-one dialogue and extra service working together with the client towards the final result.

In fact, a lot of clients don’t want or need a cluttered x-amount of concepts.

I’m simply reminded by the fact that the best brands and designs in the world were achieved without crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing isn’t magic, it’s just different thinking.

I think we should bombard the Evergreen Nation by submitting ‘protest logos’. Let’s clog up their servers with wordmarks – protest messages 1mb each (their maximum file size requirement). If they want to look through thousands of logos we can make them look through thousands more and maybe teach them a little about best practices at the same time.

Share a thought