Coincidence or plagiarism? Indian ad honchos call out on similar work

Sarmistha Neogy
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In the last one week, we found two advertising honchos, Manish Bhatt, Founder Director, Scarecrow Communications and Prathap Suthan, Chief Creative Officer, Bang in the Middle writing posts on social media which spoke about, how they came across international creative pieces which looked quite similar to the work which they had done for their clients once.

publive-imagePrathap and his team at Bang in the Middle, a couple of years back had led a campaign for Jabong called ‘Be You’. Now a, a UK based fashion brand, Sainsbury’s Tu launched their campaign with the same positioning, ‘Be You’.

“I can’t say or do anything about it, since it is no longer my client. The only question, I am asking here is, had it been the other way round, then would the consequences been the same?” Suthan opines.

If your work is patented or trademarked, then legal action can be taken. In this case, if Jabong has trademarked the line ‘Be You’, then they can take action.

publive-imageBhatt recently claimed that Publicis Italy’s work done for brand Diesel titled ‘Go with the Flaw’ is similar to his campaign done for Spykar where they said ‘Flaunt your flaws’.

Commenting on it, he says, “I am not saying, that the ads are copied or plagiarized, I know it can happen.  But seeing similar work in the same category is surely strange. The entire reason for bringing this up is because I want my brand/client and industry people to take note of it.”


Bhatt shared an instance, where he used a background track of 'Love To Love You Baby' for an AV for Spykar Blue Film Festival as an award material entry and uploaded on YouTube. Within a jiffy, he received a notice from Universal Music to remove their track from the AV. He feels that such prompt action from our Indian advertising body is not seen because there are no rules and no body as such to monitor such issues.

"The Indian advertising body is not united; it has very low IP etiquette. When it comes to advertising, we often feel inferior, but we should not let anyone to take us for granted,” he cited.

We spoke to Saurabh Dasgupta and KV Sridhar seeking their perspective on this pressing issue.

publive-imageKV Sridhar, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Hyper Collective says, “Sometimes it is pure coincidence that the messaging and the product delivery of two different products can be same. Human thoughts are always similar, what differentiates a brand is their personality and tonality. For e.g. Polo, Coke and a tea brand can all talk about refreshment in their campaigns, because it fits in their category. So while, the thought can be same, the execution needs to be different. You need to worry, when there is a similarity at the execution level."



Echoing similar views, Saurabh Dasgupta, Former NCD Innocean & Independent creative consultant said, “These may not necessarily be deliberate acts of plagiarism, but if they are, then it is really unfortunate. Today there are several brands, without any articulated differentiation in their offerings operating within the narrow confines of the way a category is defined; these overlaps are bound to happen. Let’s not forget that while we speak there are thousands of planners and creative people across the globe trying to crack an idea on a brief that may be unexciting. The familiar is unexciting and unexciting leads to more familiar.”

bang in the middle spykar pops prathap suthan Scarecrow Communications Manish Bhatt jabong hypercollective KV Sridhar Saurabh Dasgupta Innocean