In an effort to build up its brand, the Nashville Symphony created a contest for local graphic designers. The Nashville Symphony asked designers to create a new logo and would award the winner $2,500 as well as several other prizes.
According to contest rules, the Nashville Symphony wanted to “[give] community members the chance to help create a new brand identity for the orchestra and its home, Schermerhorn Symphony Center.” Most marketers have been taught contests are an effective way to reach customers and create a “buzz.” Neil Kokemuller says, “Contests also offer advantages from a research standpoint. When people sign up or agree to participate, you can collect names, contact information and get answers to other research questions.”
However, as the symphony soon found out, you do not mess with Nashville’s local artists. Stephen Jones, a prominent Nashville designer, pushed back against the symphony’s plans writing on his blog: “instead of paying one designer or agency to help identify problems, strategize and create a visual identity, they will instead be casting a wide net by “…inviting local artists and designers to submit their ideas via the Nashville Symphony Logo Design Competition.” The result, Jones argued, “the Symphony will receive multiple entries from creatives in Nashville with no guarantee of giving compensation to these artists and the revocation of rights to ANY work submitted.”
The symphony graciously admitted defeat and backed off its contest. While some contests are a good idea for marketers looking to get the word out about a client, the lesson that should be learned here is: Don’t create contests that infringe on peoples’ ability to make a living.