Time to toughen stand, urges Abby superjury

17 Apr,2013


By Johnson Napier


It has been a busy few days for big guns from the advertising fraternity, faced as they are with sorting out the issues arising from ads accused of being cheap imitations. After a few entries were hauled up, the AGC has appointed a 11-member ‘superjury’ to look into complaints that have been made in the past few days.


As reported by MxMIndia earlier, the decision to have chairpersons of the various creative juries will, it is hoped, ensure an end to all charges of favouritism and critical decisions taken by juniors. While the ‘superjury’ will discuss and deliberate on each of the disputed creatives, the final voting will be via secret ballot. Note: the ‘superjury’ will only look at the complaints on creative issues like a certain ad being similar to another released earlier.


While instances of plagiarism in advertising are not new, there has been no concrete effort so far in trying to nip the problem in the bud. And while a solution may even be found, getting rid of the menace altogether may be a difficult thing to achieve given the numerous constraints that are associated with the issue. MxMIndia spoke to a few members from the ‘superjury’ to understand the magnitude of the problem and also assess what could be the possible solution to cleanse the system. While we made an attempt to reach out to all members, a few could not be reached as they were travelling or preferred to not comment. Sonal Dabral opted to not offer his opinion on the subject while Josy Paul was travelling out of India. Prasoon Joshi and Senthil Kumar did not return calls or messages till the time of filing this report.


K S Chakravarthy (Chax), National Creative Director, Draftfcb Ulka

I think people are going to realize that the implications of even genuine mistakes are going to become serious. We are living in a very connected world so it is very difficult to hope that you will get away with it. The mistake may be small or a large one but the fact is that one has to be doubly careful today. If you ask me whether do I believe that in today’s day and age people genuinely go out and copy something and will get away with it, I do not think so. The truth will eventually be out. But one also has to consider the fact that the number of entries that get submitted run into thousands…so sieving through all of this is tedious. I would rather believe that sometimes mistakes honestly happen but increasingly the cost of committing such mistakes is becoming high. All we have been hearing after coming from Goafest is one scam after the other but that will be taken care of sooner or later. Also, I think people will become more aware of what they do from now on; the thing is that you cannot mandate such issues, it cannot become a matter of law.


Unfortunately here we have got carried away in a couple of categories namely Print and Outdoor. Apart from that most of the work is real. It’s just that in these two categories it has become so easy for anybody to dream up anything and use it in one place. South America made it to fame and greatness through only scams; Singapore made it to fame and greatness only through scams… and then markets, emerge, evolve and they mature. The world has a way of teaching a lesson to people. In somebody’s quest to gain fame and glory they end up getting s*** on their face but everybody is smart enough to realise that.


Nitesh Tiwari, CCO, Leo Burnett India

I don’t think any self-respecting creative person would deliberately want to indulge in plagiarism. Imagine an ad which has won both nationally and internationally. That ad must have passed through the scrutiny of at least 10 (if not 20) senior creative guys both nationally and internationally. Now it’s obvious that none of them must have seen anything similar in their career else that piece wouldn’t have got awarded in the first place. So, what are the chances that the team which has done that piece might be aware of the existence of a similar piece done by someone else in some remote part of the world. It’s anybody’s guess. Goafest has a robust system in place to make sure such incidences don’t happen. A list of all the shortlists and finalists is put out for everyone to see. Anyone is free to send his reservations regarding the originality of any piece. People have done it and appropriate actions have been taken by the respective jury members before the final list of winners is prepared. I don’t know what else the Goafest committee can do. It’s our industry and it’s our responsibility to stop it from getting this messy. The best way to stop it would be that people wake up early and raise their concerns well in time. It would mean less heartburn for everyone.


Agnello Dias, Co-founder, Taproot India

Agnello DiasWhen the jury meets in a few days, we will look at the various issues that have been drawn up against a few ads. The meeting is being called to ascertain whether such allegations are true. If they are found to be true, we will further discuss what the next course of action should be.


Whatever has happened in the past regarding plagiarised ads, a few may have happened by accident and a few may have happened deliberately. Also, it is difficult for the jury to find out which ads are genuine and which are not – they do not sit with Google at their side to keep a tab on the authenticity of ads. So it’s not possible for them to know what is genuine and what is not. In fact the question should be that it has happened for the first year and has never happened before. When has an ad been withdrawn due to plagiarism at Goafest, never!


So it is too early to say anything right now and I can comment only after we have the meeting of the jury members.


Piyush C Panjuani, Founder & Director, Equus

The process of judging devised over the years by Ad club has been pretty much in place.


The entries are scanned on various parameters. Having said this there can be nothing completely full proof and a stray incident could happen. After all there is a very thin line between inspiration and plagiarism.


Like every year, this year too we had a wonderful jury for the film craft category. I have been on the film craft Jury for 3 years and special attention has been paid to plagiarism. As the chairman of the jury this year, it was but obvious to look into this issue with the same care.


‘Award’ is a mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement. In our context, it’s about originality…. about creating not coping.

It’s about earning recognition for one’s creation.

So I reckon its about being honest.

Nipping the problem of plagiarism is about inculcating this atitude of being honest and respecting oneself!


Rakhshin Patel, Partner, M&C Saatchi-i


On a personal level I’d like to state that when one a scam ad is reported and proven the agency responsible should be debarred for at least one year. Also the people who are responsible should be penalised more or debarred for two years. The thing is that there are thousands of entries that get submitted and whether it is an Indian or international jury one can never really tell what is real and what is not. There is no foolproof system that can be developed; the only thing that can happen is if someone has seen something and reports it to the concerned authorities. Only if you impose strict penalties will people deter from such activities in the future.


I remember one such ad which had won an award at Cannes and the very next year, an exact copy was submitted at Abby. Now if I hadn’t seen that entry earlier we all would have awarded a Gold to the entry. So there is no foolproof system that can be developed but the industry needs to exercise consciousness including the top management issuing a diktat to its workforce that such things won’t be tolerated. So penalising those responsible could help in curtailing such practices.


Carlton D’Silva, Chief Creative Officer, Hungama Digital Media

There are a few categories where you see scams coming in and there are other categories which would be next to impossible to get a scam like Digital. In digital, you cannot go out of your way and scam out an entry. Also, it’s probably impossible to scam on television which therefore leaves you with two components, namely Press and Outdoor from where a bulk of scams get reported.


The way out is trying to change the rules to an extent. Like for example, can we attach a media spend to a press ad. There cannot be just one release in a newspaper but they should be seen across newspapers. What happens is that agencies release ads sparsely which get noticed by only a few people which leads to scams picking their way into the system. We need to figure out a way to make scamsters difficult to scam. Ultimately, we do not want to reward advertising that is not fruitful and has done nothing for the brand. But these things take time and will not happen overnight.


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