Turner Barr

"Around the World in 80 Jobs" blogger says company stole his idea

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If you think "Around the World in 80 Jobs," the new marketing ploy from multinational human resources firm Adecco, is a pretty clever idea, you're not alone. So does Turner Barr. In fact, he likes it so much that he came up with it two years ago.

Since then, Barr has been traveling the world with a mission. To perform 80 different jobs in 80 different locations around the globe. He's been documenting the journey on his personal site and uploading videos to YouTube. He's sold Christmas trees and cared for elephants, but now his latest job is wrangling with the worlds largest human resources firm over the rights to his idea.

Recently Adecco began their own "Around The World In 80 Jobs" project—a contest in which eight young people are to be sent around the world to each perform 10 different jobs. In addition to seizing the name, the promotional videos for the contest bear a striking similarity to the videos produced by Barr. But even though Adecco began their project second, it's Barr that's being shut down as the Swiss-based HR consulting firm asserts its trademark on the idea.

"Apparently a multinational corporation thought it was ok to use my name brand, my personality in their marketing initiative, that I had no idea about," Barr said in his latest YouTube posting. "Nobody reached out to me to talk about it."

Barr released a statement about the controversy on his site, but it was quickly taken down by Adecco. That hasn't stopped a huge outpouring of support on social media, however. 

Multiple threads on Reddit have discussed the legal issues at hand in this case, with most expressing support for Barr and questioning the professional ethics of Adecco. 

"This is absolutely infuriating that a company would do this. Not only stealing his idea, but trademarking the name?! My jaw dropped watching the video Adecco made with the paid actor," said Reddit user DoctorSpaceman.

Adecco did not respond directly to the Daily Dot's request for comment, but the company did release a statement on its Facebook page earlier today. 

"We’re sorry for some recent negative comments. We’d like to make something clear.

The intention of Adecco's youth initiative was to give perspective to young people so they can better prepare to enter the workforce and achieve their ambitions. Youth unemployment throughout the world is an at all time high. This can not stand.

We understand there is concern with the use of the term 'Around The World In 80 Jobs' and we take this seriously. We've worked to resolve this and to create a mutually beneficial solution. We will continue to do so. In the meantime, our only goal is to inspire young people to find a way to work. We invite you to join us.


Your Adecco Way to Work Team"

Despite these efforts to smooth over the controversy, the statement from Adecco only seems to have brought more ire, inspiring more than 300 comments, most of which criticize the company.

"It is morally reprehensible to steal someone else's idea and then hide behind the excuse that 'It's all for the young people,'" wrote Facebook user Brandon Six. "I hope this PR nightmare never ends for you."

Barr has not returned the Daily Dot's request for comment. However, for the time being, it seems he's focused on reclaiming the rights to his project. But it's still unclear how successful he might be.

"I’m not going to lie to you, I feel incredibly mortal right now. I’ve been down in the dumps the last few weeks. I haven’t been able to write on my website," Barr told his viewers.

He added, "If you guys believe that the ideas of people are important, then please support this message."

Photo by Turner Barr/YouTube