Feeling Rather Used…

So, you may remember last month, I wrote THIS post about an interview I went for? The job was as an Assistant Road Safety Officer for Southend on Sea Borough Council and the interview was a two-part process. I had to answer various questions and do the usual interview bit and then I had to do a ‘practical exercise’ and give a presentation on the following brief:

Drinking and driving is a major concern and high profile campaigns are regularly run to educate drivers of the danger. Despite this, road accidents involving alcohol remain high.

Many drivers are fully aware of the risks from drinking and driving and choose alternative transport when going home but are unaware that their alcohol levels are very likely to affect their driving ability the next morning.

How would you promote an awareness of this issue ? Be prepared to have a short discussion on your ideas for educating drivers including any slogans, events and publicity.

I spent quite a while preparing for this part of the interview and came up with a ton of ideas and even produced a mock-up poster that the Council could use for their hypothetical campaign. I uploaded the poster to my Google Drive account and showed the interviewers on my iPhone, hoping that saving paper and being tech savvy would earn me a couple of extra Brownie points in the process. This is the poster:

I went to great lengths to talk about how, when it comes to drink driving awareness there wasn’t any need to show smashed up cars and gore, that everyone in the country knew what flowers on a lamppost or by the side of a road meant and that it could provide far more stark and striking imagery than anything that’s too in-your-face and shocking.

I didn’t get the job, as you’ll know if you read the previous post, and I was pretty cut up about it, especially as the interviewers had congratulated me on how well I’d done and asked what my start availability was like. Then, yesterday, the local free paper dropped through my door. This was on the front cover:

A lovely Christmas infomercial, dominating the entire front page, using my ideas and imagery pretty much verbatim.

So, I wasn’t good enough to do the job I applied and interviewed for, but I was good enough to have my ideas stolen from me and used in a Borough-wide Drink Driving campaign by the Road Safety Team, the ones who’d rejected me.

When I opened the folded paper, I was really shocked. Then I felt mind-bubblingly angry. Now? I feel completely used. This is the second time this year that I’ve applied for a job with a creative aspect and had my ideas used, despite not getting the jobs. Is this really how things work? People do a recruitment drive with a creative assignment attached to the process and then just use the ideas for free? Is this how our Council is saving money, by stealing advertising instead of commissioning it?

I’m sure I don’t have a leg to stand on, in terms of the legalities of it. The only proof I have that this was my idea is the uploaded file to my Google Drive account, showing the date I saved it and a Facebook conversation where I shared my ideas with some friends in a private group, but I’m not clued up enough on intellectual property to even know if this makes a difference.

Either way, I feel totally used and let down. And STILL without a job. No thanks to Southend Borough Council.

Oh well, if I’ve learned anything it’s that I DO have some good ideas after all…

21 thoughts on “Feeling Rather Used…

  1. i absolutely love your original poster….definitely thought provoking and packs an emotional punch. they should have at least commissioned you for your idea. did you happen to sign a waiver or any documentation regarding the creative aspect of the interview….something about how they could use any portion of it if they wanted to? if it were me, i would have marched down there with the paper and my original project and demanded to see the head person of the interview…of course, i do happen to act rashly and not think things through and then kick myself for it later…

  2. I worked at my local council for less than a year and hated it. It was a job I knew inside out and was more than capable but the internal procedures were frustrating beyond belief. You know what I think? I think you came up with something that was as good as or better than they could come up with themselves but using new technology that they don’t have. Most people I knew who worked at the council were dinosaurs and one step behind everyone else. I’m sorry you felt you were ripped off (which you probably were) and didn’t get the job as the council needs people like you, but I think it would have driven you mad. Something better will come up with a company that appreciates you and not just your ideas. Good luck.

  3. The sad reality is that there is no copyright on an idea, as any creative professional will tell you!

    Magazines and papers are notorious for asking potential reporters and writers to submit job applications along with five feature ideas and then raiding the job apps for ideas!

    As an applicant, coming up with the idea is half the battle – the remainder is convincing someone you’re the only person who can do a good job with that idea.

    The exception would be if someone used your words, or your images – you have ownership of those and they will be protected by copyright.

    When pitching, you always have to strike a balance in giving just enough info to interest someone, but not so much they could do the job without you. Sometimes you get it wrong and lose out – but take comfort (small comfort, admittedly) from knowing you’re on the right track and have ideas worth people admiring!

    1. Thanks for commenting Sally, I’ve had a couple of people say the same as you now, and I think basically I’ve been a bit naive in the whole thing. It is a comfort to know that my ideas are worth using, but I think I’ll be a bit gun-shy when it comes to applying for any creative jobs in the future.

    1. From what I now gather, it’s pretty commonplace procedure in these types of jobs. Wish I’d known this before!

  4. I suppose that the difficulty is that you can’t prove whoever they did hire didn’t come up with the same idea 🙁 But on the plus side at least you know that it was a damned good idea, and I personally think that your poster was better than theirs. We’ve all been told a million times ‘please don’t drink and drive’, but your poster actually makes people think about the next day too which is a very serious issue and one that most people don’t consider. They missed out by not hiring you xx

    1. Thanks Nicola, that’s the problem I’m having, it doesn’t matter that I know I came up with it, I can’t prove anything. It means a lot to know that my idea was worth something and that you think it’s good, but as much as I’d like to continue applying for jobs with a creative aspect to them, I feel very jaded about it all now. Thanks for commenting xx

    1. Bless you, it’s very kind of you to offer, but it’s the top floor of the Civic Centre so I don’t know how successful you’d be!

    1. I haven’t, no. My Husband thinks I should make a complaint, even if it’s just to get an apology but I wouldn’t know where to start and I think I’m just too hurt at the moment. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      1. Sorry if they have nicked what you put forward as your campaign old bean, but both Think! (Who this campaign is in association with, judging by the YA front cover) and Crimestoppers have used the roadside flowers before.

        That’s not to say they haven’t nicked your idea in doing this, but you wouldn’t have any IP rights, and unless they’d actually used a photo you’d taken and submitted, there’d be no copyright either

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