CreativityStrategy & Marketing

Freelancers: Take Your Client’s Privacy Seriously

I received a call recently from a producer friend who just finished a national TV commercial campaign for a very high profile company. The commercials starred a major professional athlete who was paid a fortune to participate. But two days before it was released, the producer’s video editor decided to upload a personal copy for his Vimeo site – and didn’t even password protect it. Somehow, a super-fan of that athlete discovered it, posted the links to Twitter, ripped a video of the spot, and cut that up into three different pieces and uploaded it to Instagram.

Needless to say, because of the high profile athlete, it went viral.

My producer friend knew nothing about what his video editor had done. He had signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to work on the project because it was unveiling a brand new product.

When it became public, the client was understandably livid. Because of the power of social media, it damaged the client’s strategy, and they considered a major lawsuit against the producer, the editor, and the production company. In fact, the client company had to reach out to the Instagram copyright team to get it taken down.

The bottom line is that this company spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to hire a massive star to promote their brand only to have a top secret launch botched because one person on the crew decided to upload something they had no right to share.

It wasn’t malicious on the part of the video editor, but that didn’t matter. I also understand the desire to save a copy of your work for yourself, but never without the client’s knowledge and permission.

The lesson?

Don’t ever – EVER – upload something without permission. No matter how cool it is, how much you’d like to be first, or how proud you are of your work.  When you do business with a client, you play by their rules.

If you can’t live with that, you won’t work in this business for very long.

Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash

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  1. I’ll add that it’s also important people on your team understand if and when they can share behind the scenes photos or videos they grab with their phones. If in doubt – just put the phone away unless you can ask the right person for permission to share.

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