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…