NEWS IN THE TRAVELSPHERE is centering around Turner C. Barr, creator and founder of the website Around the World in 80 Jobs. In recent months, his blogging personality, from the name of the website, down to his physical persona, were seemingly appropriated by Swiss company Adecco for use in a social media campaign. Barr has since battled with the legalities of identity theft, to the chagrin of this company, and has received overwhelming support from the travel community.
His blog post from June 20th explains his situation, a tale of someone so close to achieving his dream job, who now has to backtrack. It’s a warning to travel bloggers and entrepreneurs in general: We get to do what we love, but at what price?
This is what multi-million/billion dollar corporations fail to realize (or don’t care about): Travel bloggers put in a shit ton of time developing their brands, monetizing their sites, and managing their internet reach in order to do what they love and eke out a living.
So to have a large international company — who is more than able to throw a little cash to Barr for their, in my opinion, blatant identity theft — publicly admit they cannot come to a compromise, where does that leave us?
Adecco, a “multinational human resource consulting company” founded in 1996, have formed branches and programs all over the world. One of their core values includes “Responsibility: We lead by example, we act with integrity and respect.”
Then there’s the “Adecco Way to Work” initiative, which makes this whole issue quite ironic. According to their Facebook page (which is rife with travel bloggers and others voicing their complaints), Adecco “offers advice and guidance to young jobseekers looking to kick-start their careers.”
The company that prides itself on helping young people get jobs will possibly be the demise of a very influential travel blogging figure living his dream.
You want to end youth unemployment? Start by not unemploying the youth. Barr’s blog has been up and running since 2011; Adecco only announced this sector earlier this year, spearheading it on April 30th. And I’d bet it didn’t take them long to come up with their marketing campaign, Around the World in 80 Jobs.
Bobbi Lee Hitchon, creator of Heels and Wheels Online, had this point to make on Adecco’s Facebook wall:
Do you realize by doing what you did you are actually worsening youth unemployment around the world? Do you know how hard it is to open a business for yourself, put all your blood sweat and tears in it and see it just stolen from you in an instant by a big business? If you really were in support of an answer to youth unemployment, you would support a youth who is doing his best to make sure he’s not unemployed.
So far, Barr has been met with what seems to be resistance from Adecco. Hopefully the vocal critics will wear down Adecco’s efforts and Barr will receive some sort of compensation for his brand.
Could it all be a coincidence that this company branded their campaign with the same name as Barr’s online identity? It’s possible. After all, the title of the Jules Verne novel has inspired many different initiatives. And the campaign title sounds good too when you say it. But it’s going to be hard to convince me when Barr alludes to certain factors that are beyond coincidental:
The video for their marketing campaign was particularly creepy for me, as even my age and personality didn’t escape the level of detail spent on creating this doppelganger (they used a paid actor of course)…I’m no longer even the first thing that comes up when you Google my brand name.
What now? Adecco has attempted to apologize, stating they cannot find “common ground” with Barr’s existing series, and that they are sorry to have “upset him.”
Barr, meanwhile, is doing his best to stay afloat without sucummbing to another corporate identity scam:
I’ve turned down work opportunities and put on hold any future travel job plans to deal with lawyers, long distance phone calls, corporate executives and other such nonsense — all along feeling misled and patronized.
His blog post saddened me the most when he admitted how his creative energy has been zapped and how the way Adecco is improperly handling this campaign has eaten up any possible time that he could dedicate to his brand.
So what can you do to support Barr, to voice your opinion, and to protect your own online identity? First, research all you can about the situation, from the company that hosted the campaign, to Barr’s history, and how it is affecting the world. Make your voice heard, but in an informed way (“YOU MOTHA FUCKAS SCAMMIN ON MAH TRAVEL BOO” is probably not going to do much good).
Whatever side you feel strongly about, communicate the issue to anyone and everyone. Write a blog post. Write letters to Barr and Adecco. Use the hashtags #80jobs and #makeitright, and send a tweet to @AdeccoWaytoWork (their Twitter feed is visible on their website, and is chock-full of Barr’s supporters).