If my car becomes famous, what becomes of me?
March 1, 2010 4:59 PM   Subscribe

A publicist wants to use my vehicle for a promotion. How can I best make sure my interests are protected?

I own a vehicle that is somewhat unique (if you're digging through my Ask history, yes, it's that one - please keep mention of the brand out of this thread, as I'd prefer this not be easily Google-able to the publicist).

Anyway, I apparently own one of the few working examples on the east coast, and they'd like to use it for a photo shoot, at a location about 4-5 hours away from me. I am perfectly amenable to this.

They've already offered to transport the vehicle (and me with it, if I can take the day off work) at their expense, and offered me room and meals if needed. I basically told them I'd like them to sweeten the deal, and please let me know what your offer is. (I'm not looking to get rich off this, but feel that if my property is being used for commercial gain, that I should be compensated with more than lunch.)

Beyond that, I of course have an interest in making sure the vehicle is properly taken care of, is repaired if damaged, etc - especially if I am not accompanying it.

What should I be asking of the publicist, and what should I watch out for?
posted by CrayDrygu to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If they ask you to sign something, which I assume they will:
Watch out for promises that were made verbally but are not included in the written document.
Watch out for language absolving them of liability in the event something happens.

It sounds like you're really serious about this (making sure the vehicle is taken care of, etc), like you don't want to rely solely on trust (not that you should or shouldn't, just that you don't seem to trust them). IANYL, and this is not legal advice, but you could always contact a lawyer and ask her/him to read anything the publicist has you sign and/or draw up a contract explicitly stating who will be liable in the event the vehicle is damaged. The lawyer would also be helpful if you're that interested in getting the publicist to sweeten the deal. Of course, as someone who used to arrange photo shoot details like this, I'll warn you that the publicist may very well decide your requirements are a PITA and move on to Plan B--but it doesn't sound like you'd care too much.
posted by sallybrown at 6:23 PM on March 1, 2010

"...you don't seem to trust them."

A couple of the rules I follow when it comes to any business transaction are:

1) If it's not on paper, it didn't happen.
2) Trust, but verify.

Nobody's perfect. Something mentioned on the phone is easily forgotten. People mis-speak. Intentions can be misinterpreted. It's not that I don't trust them; I just don't want to miss anything.

You're right, ideally I should contact a lawyer. The timeframe is short, though, and my free time (especially during business hours) is limited. So I'm simply going to avoid anything that goes outside my comfort zone.

That said, you're right - if he thinks my requirements are too much of a PITA and moves on, I won't be heartbroken. In fact, it'll be easier on me. But most of the concessions so far have been his suggestion, not mine, and from talking to him I think that Plan B is simply "go without."

I don't intend to try and take advantage of him due to that - I actually think it's really neat and would like to be involved. But if something happens to my property while they're using it, I want to make sure it gets repaired, and I shouldn't have to put up any personal money to accommodate them. That's basically what I'm looking for.
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:34 PM on March 1, 2010

I basically told them I'd like them to sweeten the deal

Sweeten what deal? How much are they offering to rent it for? (the transportation and lunch is not a 'deal')

Some things: make sure you are covered in their insurance from moment of pick up from your place to redelivery at your place, get the $ you want, get it all in writing, make sure they do not abuse your car (I have seen it happen, then denial, make sure all that is covered).

I am sure there is much more, but that's for starters...
posted by Vaike at 6:35 PM on March 1, 2010

"Sweeten what deal? How much are they offering to rent it for? (the transportation and lunch is not a 'deal')"

Well, that's sort of what I mean. You're right - transportation and lunch isn't a "deal." If I'm taking time to accompany the car down there for a day so they can use it, my time alone is worth something. And the more I think about it, the less comfortable I am with letting it go unaccompanied.

So I'm looking for advice in that regard - making sure I'm watching out for everything I need to watch out for. And even just the couple of answers so far have helped in that regard.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:28 PM on March 1, 2010

I really think they ought to pay you for the use of your car. I know that there are companies that specialise in supplying cars for photoshoots - maybe one of them could give you an idea of what this is worth. Even if you charge half what they do, it will be money in your pocket.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:32 PM on March 1, 2010

"Photoshoot" is actually not an entirely accurate description. The car is ultimately getting used for a total of half an hour max, and there isn't going to be recurring revenue like from photo sales. I guess I should have just called it a "promotional event." I'm just trying to avoid certain key words.

But yes, I do think they ought to pay me something. I actually gave them a bit of a freebie (they're covering basic accommodations) already and set a bad precedent for myself there, but the freebie is much more convenient to me (local, and on a weekend). But this next one involves a greater inconvenience to me, and so I'm after something more in return. And as I said, if the answer is no...so be it.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:55 PM on March 1, 2010

Perhaps you could request a damage deposit? Some cash that you hold until the car is returned in pristine condition. Tons faster than insurance claims and it also comes out of their operating budget so they have a direct incentive to be nice to the car.
posted by trinity8-director at 9:01 PM on March 1, 2010

They need to have liability insurance for the event or photoshoot or whatever it is and they need to list you as "Loss Payee" on the policy and give you a copy of this policy. What that means is that if anything happens to the car their insurance policy will reimburse you for it. Also get that part of the agreement in writing but you know that already.

As part of the same agreement, you need to get paid a rental fee for the car, a few for the handler (that's you) for the day, not by the hour. I would charge for an 8 hour day including travel time, anything over is at an additional rate of $X.00/hour (you decided), and also charge for expenses. And you may even go so far as to put in a cancellation fee in the agreement so that you don't rearrange your life, take time off work etc and if they decide to not use you or your car, they haven't wasted your time.

So insurance (paid by them), rental fee, your fee (you're not making money by taking time off from your job), cancellation fee, re-schedule fee (you don't want them to say we're not cancelling we're just rescheduling) and expenses. You should be paid all this for that particular day whether they use the car or not, if rescheduled that's another day's worth of fees. And after all that to "sweeten" the deal they can maybe give you a copy of the photos or something.

And lastly, make sure they know that they don't own the exclusive right to use your car. You should be free to to rent your car to another company or firm if you want.

Good luck.
posted by eatcake at 6:49 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Err....that's "fee for the handler" and "you decide".
posted by eatcake at 6:51 AM on March 2, 2010

okay, so they are doing the usual pr/ad trick: they try to get you as cheaply as possible. but you have something they want and can't get elsewhere. hm. I'd suggest you make them an offer instead: free transportation/hotel, $1000 for you and they need to have proof of insurance for their shoot/whateveritactuallyis. you grant them the rights to use the images they tale in perpetuity and any medium but not for resale i.e. on stock photo sites.

that's a fair deal. it's not pulling a fast one on them and it's not terrible for you either. start a website, start offering your service as just that and if this car is as unique as you say you should be on your way to make a decent income of this soon.
posted by krautland at 7:42 AM on March 2, 2010

What eatcake described is similar to what we do when we rent out my unique house for photo shoots, TV commercials, etc.

They absolutely should be paying you a fee to rent the car. For my house, it's something like $2000 for an 8-10 hour day, depending on how many people they'll have working (how many people causing wear-and-tear), how many rooms they want to use, etc. You'll agree on how long the day will be, and then you'll agree on a high overtime charge, which will encourage them to accurately estimate the length of the day and how long you'll need to be available.

They absolutely should be paying you a handler's fee. When I'm the "location manager" at my house, I usually get a $200-$300 check for my time, the fact that I have to walk around and micromanage them because they are always trying to push the boundaries of what you agreed on ("I know we agreed to bring our own electricity generator, but can't we just plug in these 10 hair dryers for just a sec?"), and then I have to walk around afterward to make sure that nothing is damaged. In your case, you should get expenses on top of that since you're travelling.

In the contract there should be a cancellation fee, for your time.

In the contract there should be an extra-cleanup fee. At my house, I take photos of the house before, photos right when they arrive, and then if there's tons of garbage, cigarette butts, etc, I take pictures of that before I clean it up. Usually $400-$600.

They absolutely need to get insurance, unless your regular insurance that you have covers this kind of commercial use, which it probably doesn't. If they don't want to get insurance, think about a deposit that would cover the cost of any anticipated damage (or God forbid totalling) of the car.

They're taking advantage of your ignorance of how this usually works.
posted by thebazilist at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

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