#NoToFreeLabour: SG ad creatives initiate campaign to combat exploitation

Singaporean creatives Jay Liu and Boston Ho and content creator Jonathan Paul have unveiled a self-initiated and self-funded campaign called “The biggest heist against the creative industry: Exposure dollars” to combat business exploitation in the creative industry.

“The Biggest Heist” is a self-initiated and self-funded campaign by the trio.

The concept was sparked from conversations with fellow creatives and strategists in the industry, particularly the freelance junior creatives. Majority of the creatives revealed that they had faced similar predicaments of working for “exposure” from clients, but in actual fact, being exploited for having no portfolio to justify a pricing.

The campaign aims to raise awareness for both businesses and creatives, embodying the social hashtag #NoToFreeLabour for all to engage in the social conversation. Launched through direct mail, it has now extended to print posters and also a collaboration with social influencers.

In a statement to Marketing, Liu said the public needs to know about the gravity of this situation, as it affects the creative industry as a whole. The phrase “Stop the biggest heist in the creative industry” in each poster is a declaration to serve as a reminder for businesses to properly compensate creatives for their time and effort.

“Every year, a creative loses up to US$6,620 through creating actual work for no pay. But what sort and amount of exposure did the creative earn? The returns are often unclear,” he added. Liu, Ho and Paul seek to create a change in the thinking and how ideas are being assessed and treated in the industry as a whole. Liu said that this is not just limited to design or advertising, as musicians and content creators face the same problems as well.

The trio created notes that cheekily imitated real dollar bills, and released it in conjunction with a series of posters. Intentionally conceptualised to portray grungy, shady, and looking downright illegal, the posters look to send a message that this form of currency is truly the biggest embezzlement in the design and creative industry, it should be stopped.

“May the businesses that received these notes realise that the currency of exposure, is as counterfeit as our exposure dollar bill in their hands,” he said. Liu and Ho work at Prodigious and Tribal respectively, which played no part in the campaign, while Paul was previously with The Smart Local.