Shreyas Kulkarni

MLLG's Amer Jaleel bats for co-ownership of creative ideas in light of Motilal Oswal ad

The group chair and CCO talks about the new Motilal Oswal ad, the ownership of ideas, and the power of relationships.

Motilal Oswal’s new ad (below) on how experience builds expertise is innocuous. Almost.

Turns out, the new ad, released a few days ago, is a replica of a similar spot from the company in 2017. MullenLowe then made the ad (below), and Motilal Oswal got the new one made in-house.

Amer Jaleel, Group chairperson and CCO, MullenLowe Lintas Group took to LinkedIn to voice his disappointment with the new spot and the lack of intellectual property coverage for agencies.

Commenting on his post was Ramnik Chhabra, Motilal Oswal’s former executive director and head of marketing; he quit in June 2022 but held the post when MullenLowe made the ad.

Also Read: Motilal Oswal’s new ad draws a sharp response from MullenLowe Lintas Group chief Amer Jaleel

"Acknowledge that while the original idea has come from the agency; it has been built by us together. Also assumed that since we have compensated the agency for the idea over previous campaigns; it is the client's property and can be used for a campaign created in-house," wrote Chhabra

When asked if his dissent arose from the lack of credit, Jaleel says, “It is about much more than somebody replicating a particular piece of creative that Lintas has done. And it has happened many times.”

He states his post was a reflection of his thoughts and as an example, he mentioned the Motilal Oswal ad.

The post did make a question, which has plagued adland for almost a century, rear its head again: Does the agency give away an idea’s ownership once the client pays it for its services?

“Do I agree with intellectual property resting with clients? As a creative person, I do not agree with it,” Jaleel remarks and goes on to state that as a person following the business laws of the country, “I have to agree with it.”

The group chairperson and CCO says “the least it should be is joint ownership of the idea.” For him, it goes beyond ethics, morals, humanity, and all that, it goes into relationships.

Says Jaleel, “when we strike a relationship with a client, especially a client like Motilal Oswal, someone who allows us to do some exciting work, we invest a lot in them and their brand.”

The group chair praises adland on how you can hardly ever hear someone from advertising say "it is their brand", you will hear them say "it is my brand." You will hear young people say "I launched this brand."

Why is that? Because “we as a community are completely invested in the work. We don't have our own work, clients’ work is our work.

However, when somebody ignores that relationship so completely and “goes ahead with releasing some work which is not taking the thought or the idea forward but a replica of it, our hearts sink,” feels Jaleel.

He understands that they have been paid for it, "we know the money belongs to somebody else, and we know we were commissioned to do it", but “emotionally we feel wronged and it is because of this relationship that we've formed. We consider it an emotional dhoka.”

Jaleel says they react inside the agency, react amongst themselves all the time over stuff like this but, “once in a while because I represent not just my agency but the creative community, I feel like making my thoughts clear to the world.”

Co-ownership the new norm

Jaleel, in his LinkedIn post, rued the lack of key numbers (codes which helped one track the source of an ad) and feels co-ownership is a possible solution in an age where plagiarism is rampant.

Saying he knows many people in advertising who go through this in India and internationally, he reveals he spoke up because he wanted somebody to stand up and say something about it.

“The creative community is a trusting community. Many of our relationships are over 30 years old, 40 years old, and 50 years old and many would never do this to us,” he states and says there are many relationships of that kind too. “But, then there are other relationships like this.”

He feels if there is a conversation, and marketing people who're good friends and co-creators agree to the thoughts he is expressing, “then I feel there will be a better atmosphere in the industry.”

We, as per the group chair and CCO, just swallow and keep it in. “I don't know what I will change because of this. If I am a lone voice, I will not be able to change anything. If people start agreeing with what I've put out there, people will say things and somewhere something may change,” he says.

However, if it does not, “people will be more aware and therefore they will go into it with the full knowledge that tomorrow something like this can happen.”

Jaleel does not want to rake up anything and wants it to be “nice, human, and agreeable in the industry. We can be better friends in the business which we enjoy with a lot of people.”

Who brings the change?

When asked if such a change should come from the big networked agencies or the small ones, he was clear that it can come from a small or a big agency.

“I am just interested in better and more trusting relationships and the industry to feel together and solid as a whole. I stand for the industry. My stand is for the industry.” 

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