Barbadian Ad Agencies: Why do they take so long to pay? Bills are still piling up as they offer excuses!

I want to thank Carla Springer in a rant on Facebook for inspiring me with this one… It’ll put me in a ton of hot water with a good few agencies for my daring to say so, but I am not doing it for me alone, I speak this on behalf of all voice or modelling talent who wait to the point a bailiff at your door pounding when your rightful fee is still in the coffers of the agency who hired you in the first place!


Back in the late 80’s, commercial voiceover fees were $3.00 per second for radio and $5.00 per second for TV, Vic Fernandes was outraged and formed “Talent Barbados” (Tal-Bds) a rag-tag band who held out for $6.00 per second for radio and $10.00 per second for TV but $15.00 per sec if voice was appearing on BOTH!

(That last part happened when Peta Alleyne was in a Big Boy garbage bag commercial, she did not know now-defunct Bds branch of McCann-Erickson ran the commercial for radio and TV in Port Of Spain, until a TT soccer team arrive in Barbados, see her and hollerBig Boy! Big Boy! She asked and then learned – Talent Barbados successfully argued for more money for her, but then they stopped using her for a while! Talent Barbados stepped in again...)

One of my contentions – even now, is that residuals were and continue to be ridiculous – if a spot is three years old then you get HALF what originally paid for, in the UK or USA you can almost send your kids to University off of residuals. I think 50% of original fee should be offered at six months, 25% after 18 months then full fee again at 36 months, anything longer to be negotiated between the agency and the talent directly! After all, the agency charged more than that in the first place, right? I am sure if the campaign is successful, then the client will return too…

I have gotten a residual once to my recollection, I think it was Kirpalani’s and I received the CEO-like figure of Ninety Dollars and no cents, whoop de doo!


Anyhow “Talent Barbados” dropped dead, then Ad Agencies started paying back worse than the Mafia with a vendetta! A rep of the late McCann had wanted to openly pull a fast one on me with some multi-spots: get a discount on ten commercials, but I held on for full fee, they were threatening to ban me until I called the name of Talent Barbados then it was “Heh, we were only kidding.”

But when Tal-Bds was fairly disbanded, shortly after I happened to be 12 minutes late for a commercial to be recorded at Gray Lizard Studios when they were in Belleville and this b*tch deducts %25 of my fee! I kept quiet as there was no Tal-Bds, I was also unemployed at the time and needed the money – but now? I’d tell her where she could osculate… Thing is, that kind of “Late Fee” reduction has never happened with me nor anyone else since, I am sure it was payback for aligning with Tal-Bds.


When you do work for Red Advertising, they pay fairly quickly (In fact, during October 2008 I asked if I could my fee quicker to have Birthday mad-money and they had it done the next day)… Sassman Publications when you do an article for “Signature” they pay half after submission and half on publication.

Most agencies have the spot go on tv or radio, which means automatic approval, but call the agency and try and tell them your account is overdraw or your hire purchase is an arrears… “Well, we haven’t billed the client yet!” Here’s the most famous one – “You want me to get the money from where? This agency’s accounts are dry!” I relayed that to one of that particular agency’s directors, got my cheque the same day and — ? Did not hear from them for 18 months, LOL!

The reality is this, if the Talent did not need the extra money then we would not either bother doing voiceovers or or if we missed announcing we would not bother them for the fee – since voicing a spot is pleasure enough, right?
BUT WE NEED THE MONEY, ESPECIALLY THESE DAYS! I cannot walk into Light & Power and say; “I will pay for the electricity when it finished powering my laptop to send and receive e-mails.” I cannot go to a supermarket and say; “When the food is digested then restored to the sewerage system I will then pay for my groceries.” I would get laugh at so effin’ bad!

PROMISES CANNOT HOLD UP MY BANK ACCOUNT, CASH DOES – OVERSEAS OR LOCAL! I did a spot in February, and that agency says “We’re supposed to pay in May.” I asked if their salaries are like that… So I got my fee for then! I am now waiting for work done in April, while the spots I did are blistering the radio stations right now, if I was to get nasty, I wonder how many decades before I saw more business?

Look, I don’t know if they hold the money for compound interest or what… I could never understand why not give half now and half on airing? I believe it is time for all models and speakers to get together again and revise the payment scheme for commercials in Barbados!

What is ironic is the very folk who make these commercials a success, are the ones who get dissed so badly!

2 Responses

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  1. Ian, you are right, and your only recourse is not to do business with late-paying agencies or insist of paymwnt upfront. I have never heard of a deduction for late arrival; that is simply insupportable. But you know that agencies aren't always to blame; some clients deliberately "rinse them out" making them wait for payments. But it's a bad situation and we'll take it up at our next association meeting.

  2. Unfortunately, this situation has a trickle down effect. The clients of Agencies, especially the larger conglomerates (ironically, the ones that HAVE the funds, and I know for a fact that some owe agencies to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars) are mostly terrible at paying on time, and accrue enormous debt, which in turn puts the Agencies in a cash strapped position. Which means that it is still the agencies' fault, for not running their accounts properly and stipulating or demanding proper payment.

    This is also the case with the suppliers as well, (recording studios, video production companies, web developers, etc.) whereby the smaller companies are significantly hurt by poorly paying clients and in turn agencies. This seriously affects cash flow, and causes these small businesses and talent to suffer considerably. The issue no doubt affects all aspects of the industry negatively. Why would any talent take the job or industry REALLY seriously when they get paid so poorly and untimely?

    I know of no other industry whereby it is standard practice to have a "given" thirty, sixty, ninety, or sometimes even longer credit period, without any signed contract, accruing interest, or prior signed contractual credit approval, with NO recourse of action for the suppliers or talent without suffering future loss of work.

    As Ian stated, if you make ANY noise whatsoever or simply don't "lie down and take it", most Agencies are notorious for "blacklisting" the same talent and suppliers who enable them to function and benefit, for simply standing up for their rights, and demanding to be treated fairly and properly. They will most often go elsewhere.

    These agencies modus operandi, is to regularly expect the talent and suppliers to be on their beck and call, demanding and taking for granting superb professionalism and same or next day service, only to callously ignore the needs of the small businesses and talent they use.

    Any business person outside the industry asks "why isn't there a deposit system in place, as in any other industry? you don't see contractors building a house without any form of payment ahead of time"
    The fact is, that advertising agencies are the ones who have the power to demand these deposits from their clients for production and talent, and they are either ignorant to, or simply don't care about the plight of the talent or supplier.
    If a deposit system or mandatory payment scheme was to be attempted to be put in place, I'm sure whoever did it would be also "black-listed".
    In one famous case a video producer was owed more than 20K, and by putting a cease on work until he was paid what he was owed, he lost all future business for the same client, who he was gracious enough to offer this credit to.

    Obviously, there are a few exceptions to the rule as Ian stated, where the agencies see the benefit of paying on time, and these agencies I'm sure get the best performance and respect from talent and supplier alike. However, this is common sense, and should be the rule, not the exception.

    I'm not sure what can be done to stop or change these practices, because in Barbados there seems to be no sense of solidarity between said suppliers, or talent, nor any specific organized body to represent their rights.
    The situation is such, that I feel the need to remain anonymous as to avoid same said "back-listing". I hope these matters as Mr, Hoyos stated can be addressed by the above mentioned "association meeting", for the sake of everyone involved, and the industry on a whole.

    Perhaps it is high time that both talent and supplier form their own association, the same way agencies have, in order to protect their rights and interests. Does anyone agree?


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