AAAI working on framework to avoid any Ogilvy-Vivo scenario in future

Rohit Ohri, Chairman and CEO, FCB India, says work on creating a copyright solution started six months ago

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Oct 22, 2019 11:58 AM



The Ogilvy-Vivo spat is certainly a turning point for the advertising industry, with one of the biggest advertising agencies in the country taking one of the top advertisers in the country to court over allegations of plagiarism. One of the things it does bring to the fore is the need for checks that an agency needs to undertake in order to safeguard its big idea. And that is what the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) is working towards.

Rohit Ohri, Chairman and CEO, FCB India says he is leading an AAAI initiative to create a copyright solution for ideas shared by creative agencies with clients at pitches. “We started work on this six months ago. The Executive Committee has approved the framework and I’m currently working with agency heads to fine tune it. This initiative will go a long way in protecting the intellectual property of creative agencies. We are hoping to go live by the end of this year.”

It is clearly not the first time that an agency has felt that a client has taken advantage of an idea communicated to them during a pitch. However, on most occasions they decide to keep mum especially if it concerns big spenders. Also, most agencies are not willing to jeopardise a future relationship with the client. And in other cases simply because the idea was cleverly modified just about enough to avoid a direct confrontation.

Responding to AAAI’s proposed initiative which hopes to resolve this problem, Amer Jaleel, Chairman and Group CCO, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group, says while such measures by industry bodies are welcome, there are a lot more issues around copyright.

“Whose idea it is? Why when a client moves on with the line given by an agency should the agency not receive royalty for use of that line etc? It’s very complex and calls for a much wider and deeper debate. For now, if we can make the pitch process simpler, cleaner and more efficient and fair to all concerned, that’s all we should aim for.”

If the client rejects an idea pitched, common sense says that the work doesn’t meet their requirements and thus not viable to be used by them. But largely this is dependent on good faith. Yet, very often creative agencies see their ideas executed on a different canvas. Some wish to call it creative coincidence.

Sudhir Nair, Founder & CEO of 21N78E Creative Labs elaborates, “I personally know the guys at Vivo. I know Jerome Chen and some others reasonably well since my Omnicom Media Group days. They are not the kind of people who would be okay about copying an idea which is why I was extremely surprised when I heard about this case. It would have been a case of ideas being extremely close to each other and it has happened with us few times in the past as well. How many different ways can you possibly think to meet the exact same brief of a client? I have been in several pitches where the client has told us that your idea is very close to what the other agency has suggested. Ideas do converge at some point. I do not think an agency as big as Dentsu and the creative folks there would be comfortable working on someone else’s idea.”

Meanwhile exchange4media spoke to Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network India, who responded to the allegations of plagiarism by Ogilvy. "We have clarified our position in our statement, and beyond that at present, we are not saying anything as the matter is pending in court. There is no plagiarism or anything of that sort involved. As we have clarified the work developed by the team is the original work which was developed independently in interactions with client."

Also refuting Ogilvy’s claim, a Vivo spokesperson said, “Vivo’s values are built on strong ethical and contractual foundations. We accord a lot of attention to our work. The matter is sub-judice and we shall wait for the law to take its course. However, the allegations are baseless and lack merit. Vivo vehemently denies them and we firmly stand with the procedure of law.”

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