Ogilvy-Vivo Plagiarism Case: The Industry Needs To Know

27 Nov,2019



By Sanjeev Kotnala [Updated*]


Like many others, I was super-excited when Ogilvy took Vivo to court for plagiarism. It seemed someone was gutsy enough to take on the issue the industry has been facing for a while.

It led to a high decibel short buzz. There were debates and the industry was discussing the next course of action. What could be done? How can the menace of plagiarism be tackled? Why must one differentiate between straight plagiarism and pitches? How could the fraternity protect their creative IPR?

Alas, just like the buzz around some other issues within the country, the campaign against plagiarism died an abrupt death.


The Recent Development Is A Dampener.

Now, in what was colloquially known as the Ogilvy- Dentsu – Vivo case and was primarily a direct dispute between Ogilvy and Vivo, the two parties  have come to an amicable agreement settling the dispute out of court. It is something everyone expected.

It cannot be a case of  ‘I am Sorry’ or writing 100 times ‘No, we won’t ever do it again’. And hopefully, not a matter of a quid pro quo where future assignments come Ogilvy way.

No, none of us can do anything. Not that we have done anything.

Many people have welcomed the development.

Is it about ‘Keeping it within the family’ and ‘not washing dirty linen in public’?

The Ogilvy – Vivo case was one of the rare high voltage cases of Indian advertising that shies away from raising such an issue.

Definitely two parties have a right to an out of court settlement. That is a defined process.


It May Act As A Deterrent Or Set An Precedent.

Yes, I agree, the point is well-made. Plagiarism was in the spotlight for some time. But, then it is half the battle.

Yes, it may help the creative process and such act as a deterrent for possibilities. Maybe, people, agencies and clients will think twice before plagiarising creative concepts. However, it is setting an example. It may become a precedent, giving rise to claims and out of court settlements. And in that case, it will be detrimental to the industry.


Industry Needs To Know.

Sorry, Arnab Goswami, for taking your line, but may be the industry does need a hard and differential debate on the subject. I do think that the industry wants to know. In many ways, Ogilvy and Dentsu are leading agencies and Vivo is a large client, and hence, the industry has the right to know. And I am equally sure that nothing will be shared. That is what happens to out of court settlements which has non-disclosure as a necessary binding clause.

However, if someone were to share, the industry would want to know:

  • What really happened?
  • What made Ogilvy withdraw the complaint?
  • What is the agreement?
  • Did Ogilvy accept it to be a case of creative-coincidence?
  • How did the creative-coincidence happened or was agreed?
  • If, yes, how did it happen?



The problem of plagiarism is alive ad growing by the day.

No solution has been found, presented or discussed in public domain.

The issue must be kept alive. The industry bodies owe it to the industry to act, to create norms, ways of self-regulation, the process of internal reporting and decision-making. Any such thing will not be legally binding, but it will be a start.


*  an earlier version of this article and the visual that accompanied it had mentioned the legal tangle between Ogilvy and Dentsu, when it was in fact between Ogilvy and Vivo



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