Anil Thakraney: Why plagiarism is unstoppable

22 Apr,2013

By Anil Thakraney


The root cause of scam ads and idea thievery in advertising is the mad lust for awards. As long as national creative directors continue to reward/hire people based on their ability to bag these (meaningless) trophies, creative people will continue to fraud and cheat. So that’s a given.


But the moot question is this: How come the frequency of creating scam ads and looting ideas is higher in India than in the western world? Surely agency heads in those nations too value personnel who win awards. I think part of the answer to that question lies in the great Indian culture. We are a nation of a million scamsters and cheaters (look around you, it’s happening everywhere), so there’s no reason why the desi ad guys won’t join in the party. This nation scores very poorly on ethics, and it’s a reality we have to quietly accept and live with.


The other answer is creative sloth, and to an extent, lack of talent. Not getting hit by a bright idea? Why not quickly scan the Black Book to see if an ‘inspiration’ strikes. Or trawl the internet to suss out what the firangi creatives are up to. Easy, no? Who will notice the lift? Award juries can’t keep an eye on millions of ads being created around the world. Also, if I do get caught, I can always claim it’s ‘divine coincidence’. In any case, by the time the chori is discovered, I would have got that massive pay hike.


I’ll give you another insight: Notice that most plagiarism and scams ads happen for the static media. Press ads, posters, hoardings, stickers, etc. It’s not often that we catch people lifting TV commercials. And that’s because of two reasons: Senior creative directors in India are entirely focused on the TVC, and pay very little attention to the other stuff, which is delegated down the line. With no one to keep an eye on them, some junior/middle level creatives resort to cheating. There’s another thing: Art directors/Visualisers in India (this is not the case in the west) usually get left out of TVC script writing and production. This is because many are considered to be ‘the down market, vernie, JJ school types’. Which means their only chance of recognition is an award for a press ad/poster. And this leads to the frantic Black Book/D&AD annual scan.


So now you know why scams and copying of ads won’t stop anytime soon.




PS: Excellent press ad by Colgate. Am getting to see a truly brilliant print effort after a long time. Are you experiencing that ‘Why didn’t I think of it’ moment? Tempted to copy? Go ahead, lift this idea for your brand. I won’t tell anyone. Promise!

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