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Image source: Frankie Luk's Instagram
Image source: Frankie Luk's Instagram

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Ex BBDO staff claims Leo Burnett ad has similarities to his team's pitch

An ex-staff member of advertising agency BBDO has pointed out that there are similarities between the advertising campaign for Cathay Pacific by Leo Burnett, and a pitch by his former agency.

The advertising campaign in question is for Cathay Pacific that tied in with the Rugby Sevens tournament in Hong Kong in early April.

The campaign, called Nobody Does Rugby Like Hong Kong Sevens, features sketches from the rugby players' locker room. The players, who are not Asian, are seen going against stereotypes by engaging in some favourite Hong Kong pastimes such as playing mahjong, eating egg waffles or drinking Chinese tea.

Frankie Luk, who according to his LinkedIn page was Executive Creative Director at BBDO Worldwide from 2015 to 2018, said in a post on Instagram: "I am so glad you like our idea, but I am not so happy about the art direction." Luk now works as a Creative Strategist at Facebook.

Asked for a statement on the post, a Publicis Groupe spokesperson said: "Our campaign, 'Nobody Does Rugby Sevens Like Hong Kong,' was inspired by the distinctive cultural textures that make the Hong Kong Sevens a unique experience for all. We stand by the integrity of our creative process, and any similarities to other creative efforts are purely coincidental."

Idea theft has been a mainstay in the industry and Creators all share the fear that their ideas will be lifted once they are presented at a pitch. With so many pitches in the market, once an idea is shared by the agency, it is easy for a client to take the idea and run with it as its own and appoint an agency to execute the same concept for a lower price.

In an op-ed for Mumbrella Asia, Jörg Dietzel asked whether the pitch process has become self-destructive and obsolete. He said ad agencies are on uneven footing with too little power and the client possessing too much power. Before an ad agency enters a pitch they are on uncertain ground and will always show too much with no guarantee of reward.

He wrote: "This is costing the agency a load of money, and of all shops invited, only one will walk away with the account while all others will have to absorb their cost (since most clients still don’t pay pitch fees) and – worst case – see their ideas online later as part of someone else’s campaign."

What do you think of the inequality in power of the pitch process? Comment below or at our Facebook page.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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