Shreyas Kulkarni

AAAI enters the scene in order to prevent idea thefts

In the wake of the issue that has hit the advertising industry, the AAAI has come up with an idea to protect an agency's creative ideas.

Alan Moore, in his novel 'V for Vendetta', wrote, “Behind this mask, there is more than just flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea... and ideas are bulletproof.”

Truer words have never been spoken. Ideas are, indeed, immortal and endure the best and harshest of times in human existence. But, their immortality doesn’t mean that they are immune from theft.

Yes, idea theft. It is one of the worst acts that can take place. One person’s original thought is used by someone else, who ends up getting the credit for it, too. Unfortunately, the advertising industry has been a victim of this crime many times.

For instance, when Ariel released its latest ad from its long-running ‘Share the Load’ campaign in March 2020, Mayank Arora, an assistant manager - social media (new Supply) at Swiggy, spoke out on social media, claiming idea theft. He said the ad was based on his insight that he had presented to an agency as a test.

In response, BBDO India, the makers of the ad, stated that they didn’t have any dealings with Arora. Josy Paul, chief creative officer at BBDO India, said, "We did not meet him or give him an assignment or test. He did not present or mail anything to us. We did not work with any 'digital agency' in the conceptualisation and creation of the idea and script. The idea was originated, developed, scripted and created in-house by talent that work full time at BBDO India on the Ariel brand. Every year, we unravel a new truth about inequality at home, that no one has spoken about before. That’s what we did this year, too."

This is just one example. Unfortunately, idea theft is rampant in the industry, especially during the time of pitching, when several agencies present their creative ideas to clients.

According to a report in ETBrandEquity on March 19, 2020, the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), keeping this issue in mind, is in the process of developing a digital locker.

Hosted on AAAI's website, agencies can upload the creatives (or ideas) that they’ve created for pitches. Once confirmed, a certificate will be issued to the agencies as proof of work.

This idea was presented to agencies because, despite not choosing to work with a particular client on a project, they (the agencies) end up seeing the clients use their ideas.

In 2019, Ogilvy India (part of WPP) took smartphone maker Vivo and creative agency Dentsu Impact to court over allegations of plagiarism. According to Ogilvy India, Vivo’s new ad, made by Dentsu Impact (part of DAN), was similar to the ‘amusement park’ storyboard idea shared by Ogilvy India’s Brand David during a pitch.

Also in 2019, production house Matheno Films said it would initiate legal proceedings against Citi, claiming the latter's Diwali ad 'Spread More Cheer This Diwali' resembled their 2017 film 'Cup of Tea'.

The digital locker idea may help clamp down on idea thefts, which hurts a lot of agencies on the creative as well as the financial side.

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