Challenges Facing Marketer-Driven Production: Talent, Crew, and Vendor Payments

As marketers have taken on more control of the creative supply chain, new issues have arisen. Greg Smith and Mark Egmon, both of The TEAM Companies, shared some insights and tips for how marketers can:

  • Better understand how to properly classify the status of certain employees and contract workers.
  • Be cognizant of applicable labor laws and union guidelines.
  • Develop systems and solutions to avoid costly missteps when managing all the moving parts within the creative supply chain.

Key Takeaways

Some of the roles that marketers now oversee and have more responsibility for than they did in the past include:

  • Proper payment of freelance workers: Adhering to applicable labor laws, union agreements, and tax codes
  • Vendor payments: Establishing a streamlined production process with payment metadata tracked based on internal requirements
  • Rights management: Obtaining applicable rights and tracking licensed element use to guard against use violations and subsequent legal action and fines

Having more responsibilities in these areas can create confusion for marketing teams not well-versed in how to best handle some of these tasks. For example, sometimes there can be an absence of clarity on the legal status of a worker, with marketers unsure if the person should be classified as an employee or a contract worker. There are different tests used by federal and state agencies to determine this status. Some questions that might be asked include:

  • Does the employer determine when and where the worker completes the job? If yes, that points to employee status.
  • Does the worker use the employer's tools? If yes, that points to employee status.
  • Is the work separate from the regular business of the employer? If yes, that points to independent contractor status.

An instance in which these issues can be particularly confusing is working with influencers, who can be either an employee or a contract worker, depending on the type of arrangement they have with the organization.

Working with models on a print ad can also become complicated. Legally, there is no SAG-AFTRA union jurisdiction over print media. However, if a model is a member of SAG-AFTRA and behind-the-scenes video is shot during the photo shoot, that video could fall under union jurisdiction, which would create different standards for compensation and how the entire production is managed.

Action Steps

  • Create corporate by-laws that provide clarity on how employees should be classified and which conditions must be met for an individual to qualify, legally, as an employee versus a contract worker.
  • Know if you're a signatory and to which contracts.
  • Invest in a platform on which you can review and manage the rights of various types of media and content, rather than doing this piecemeal.

Q&A with Greg Smith, president at The TEAM Companies

Q. You had mentioned employees versus contract workers and noted some laws in California. What if a company is New York-based but hires an employee based in California to work remotely? How does the law apply then?

Greg Smith: If the employee is residing in California, that's where the work is being done, and you have to consider them under the existing labor laws of California. The location of the company is immaterial in that instance. California is often going to be the state with the most stringent standards related to labor.


"Challenges Facing Marketer-Driven Production: Talent, Crew, and Vendor Payments." Greg Smith, president at The TEAM Companies; Mark Egmon, VP of marketing and corporate communications at The TEAM Companies. ANA Production Management Committee Meeting, 6/7/22.

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