Facebook Post About a Stolen Sample Campaign Went Viral

A viral Facebook post has sparked a discussion online about how companies should use the sample work they ask their applicants to make. Here’s what we know.

Every day, countless Filipinos around the country go online or on the streets to look for new job opportunities. The reasons behind this vary, including the desire to switch careers and not having a job to start with, even as the country’s unemployment rate eased to just 4.5% last April. 

Those fortunate enough to be considered for further evaluation in their application are at times asked to create and submit sample works. Depending on the position being applied for, this can include a sample article, graphics, or even short videos that show the applicant’s skills and expertise.

Such was the case for a Facebook user who went on social media to share his experience when he applied for a company that ended up using his sample one-ad marketing campaign without informing him and even compensating him—initially, that is.

In this case study, we delve into what happened and what could be done by companies in order to avoid being called out like this.

A Look at What Happened

The Facebook user, whose name is Nel Joseph Mozol, published a post on July 15 detailing his experience. As part of the application process, he was asked to create a sample ad, and he did as he was asked. “So this year, I applied for a Marketing Lead for this food company based in the Philippines,” he narrated in his post. “After all, I believed everything was in good faith. The product specified in the instructions wasn’t part of their portfolio.” 

He was eventually informed two weeks after that he did not get the position. However, much to his shock, he eventually discovered that the company “used [his] sample campaign, word by word, including the photo, to launch the same product they specified on the test.” And the worst part? He was neither informed nor initially compensated for the use of his work. 

“Why would they even pull off that shady tactic…I have no idea. [Artificial Intelligence] AI won’t kill marketing jobs,” Mozol lamented in the post. “It’s the shady ways of big companies exploiting creatives to get free jobs that will kill us.” 

As of writing, the post has since gone viral and has approximately 6,000 shares on Facebook, as seen below:

The Company’s Response

The company in question—who was never named by Mozol in his Facebook post and in subsequent comments—eventually reached out to him and settled the matter in private.

This was confirmed by Mozol himself in a comment that he made in his original post. Thankfully, the company eventually paid him for the use of his sample campaign. “We decided to keep the post up because it is not libelous in any form as there were no qualifying remarks about them,” he said in his update. “They apologized and I would like to keep it that way.” 

Mozol likewise acknowledged that his original post has gone viral even on other platforms such as Reddit and Twitter and said that he found it cool. “At least everyone’s now informed that some companies are really willing to pull off the sneakiest moves just to one-up creatives,” he said. 

Screenshot taken from Nel Mozol’s post

Was There a Possible Violation of the Law?

The viral Facebook post has sparked a discussion on intellectual property and whether or not the unnamed company violated any law.

According to Republic Act No. 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, “pictorial illustrations and advertisements are considered as literary and artistic works, thus, intellectual creations protected from the moment of their creation.”

Given that the sample created was a single-ad marketing campaign, this falls under the category of artistic works, making it protected by law. It should be noted that there was no prior agreement between the two parties that allows for the company to use the ad for any other purpose, and therefore, it is possible that the company violated the aforementioned law.

A Reminder for Both Companies and Job Applicants

This case of the unnamed food company should be a reminder not just for job applicants but for businesses as well.

For job applicants, this incident serves as a reminder to always be vigilant about the work they create for job applications. Applicants should ask for a written guarantee that their sample works will only be used to assess his or her skills and will not be used for other purposes. That way, they have written proof—should a company go back on their word. Should a company ask to use a sample work for their marketing efforts, applicants should rightfully be compensated for it. 

As for businesses, they should not sneakily try to profit from the sample works of their job applicants. After all, these samples are created by applicants as part of the application process—not for companies to use as free material for their marketing efforts. Should they require these kinds of services, they should enlist them from their employees or even through agencies and freelancers.

As the saying goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Should companies want to use sample works as part of their campaigns, they should inform and obtain the permission of the one who created it in the first place. Aside from this, the person should be compensated for the use of their work.