Whose bank account pays for productions now?

Yesterday’s article in AdAge “Agencies Duck Liability for Clients’ Production Costs” reported on a growing trend that is placing more of the financial risk of production on the side of photographers and production companies.

Many art buying departments are issuing “heads up” emails to photographers letting them know that the policy of issuing advances on big productions in many cases will cease. Simply put, if the ad agency hires you,  but the client they’re working for stiffs them, you have to go after their client to recover your money. Unfortunately, the PO you get from the agency won’t be giving you contact info of the person on the client side to call if you don’t get paid.

While I understand that the ad agency doesn’t want to get left holding the bag if their client (e.g., General Motors or AIG) doesn’t pay them for 120 days–or more– but can you imagine the photographer  having to call the GM switchboard asking to speak to the person in A/P at GM who can issue a check for an outstanding $85, 000 unpaid invoice originally submitted to the ad agency who issued them the PO for the assignment?

I think that if photographers are to accept that enormous financial risk, the quid pro quo for accepting those pay terms should be to at the very least have the contact information of the ad agency’s client clearly stated in the Purchase Order.