I don’t consider myself an Ad Girl, yes I’ve worked for an agency or two but through and through I am a Graphic Designer; not entirely sure I want to get into that debate right now but the whole (the copier) Niko na Safaricom Ad vs (the copied) 1998 Qantas Ad has been on my mind the last few days (thanks to twitter comments and a post from BrandKemistry) but where I felt I had to comment is when I came across this tweet: @LarryMadowo “MJ tells me that Safaricom’s Niko Na ad IS BASED ON THE QANTAS AD & they didn’t copy. Same creative director.” Now if that isn’t a very very long round about way of saying WE COPIED then I don’t know what is.

It then begs the question: Does saying BASED give you leeway or the right to copy blatantly? Does this mean that one of the ways to get inspired to answer our clients’ briefs is through copying… sorry basing our whole idea from script to execution to to post production on someone else’ idea? If this is a truth then can we confidently be added into the syllabus of any Advertising 101 class is going on right now? The other question I have is: Does a CopyWriter or Art Director, who worked or come up with the idea/concept for a TVC or Ad campaign for one client, have the right to use the same idea/concept/campaign on another client just because it’s was their idea? I ask this only because it seems to be the case in this particular situation; when MJ says that the same Creative Director worked on both the Ads. Because if it’s so there is a bag of my old executed ideas that I can whip up for my future clients anytime! Whatever I do all I need to remember is to MAKE THE LOGO BIGGER!

  1. lakhvir says:

    same creative director for both ads? that’s either a tall story or the CD is short of ideas, poaching his own work and leeches both clients – qantas and safaricom. it’s better they accept they were inspired by the qantas ad instead of trying to wiggle their way out of creative scrutiny. no doubt the safaricom ad was very tastefully captured, but its merits have been watered down by their own shot on the pot. its a shame it was not an original for safaricom, otherwise it was easily a world-class ad.

  2. Sam says:

    A rip off is a rip off. If a Creative Director has ideas in his drawer that he presented but were NOT used then he is free to resurrect them and use them again. But if the idea was used especially on an international ad, in the age of twitter facebook and youtube, how the heck do you expect to get away with it? Creatives are paid to be original, period. In this case Safaricom didn’t get their moneys worth.

  3. Wambui says:

    @lucky I totally agree with you, great Ad, world-class standards but watered down with this whole mess of being based on something else. They could have been inspired by the Qantas Ad but used their own creative license to come up with something original, the only thing saving the Safcom Ad is the scenery… sadly if you took that Ad and put a logo of Kenya Tourism Board it would hit the ball out of the park.

    @Sam I suspect since the Qantas Ad was shot in the 90s the CD didn’t think that it would surface through Youtube and the likes, but if you can get a 1970 Coca Cola Ad online then what can’t you get? I just think it was laziness on the whole team’s part and we need to request for more creative scrutiny on work done otherwise the industry’s reputation will falter if more of this happens.

  4. lakhvir says:

    have you noticed how no one on youtube feels there is anything remotely wrong in copying an idea just because it looks great? we are living a shameless culture of impunity in almost all spheres l(

  5. That Safcom ad is spot on. Kenyans = haters

  6. lakhvir says:

    @ kenyan accounting jobs – say what?

  7. Wambui says:

    @Kenyan Accounting Jobs: Your comment holds no grounds simply because you don’t understand what is being discussed here. In the Accounting world (where I assume you work because of your name if you don’t work there then we’ll use it as an example) there are Best Practices which govern how Accounting is done.

    Sadly, in the Advertising industry, we don’t have these best practices therefore such occurrences as these can take place whereby one company/agency can copy another Ad and the public/target market will never know. If this is to take place it begs the question are we who are in Advertising in the business of copying ideas or do our clients hire & pay us to come up with creative solutions for specific to their brands? If the latter is true then we have every right to be annoyed that Safaricom could do what they have done simply because it lowers the legitimacy of what we are doing as an industry.

    So you can call us haters if you want but at the end of the day this debate is what will help us know what is and isn’t allowed in our industry which at the end of the day will give consumers such as yourself interesting, creative, localized and effective Ads to look at rather than pretty copied ones that in fact would be best suited to be a Kenya Tourism Board Ad rather than a Safaricom one.

  8. Apuesto says:

    @Wambui…I admire your love and passion for your job and I truly agree with you. When I first saw the safaricom ad, I thought to myself, wow!!! this new CEO is off the hook. Wait till I saw the safaricom meets Qantas.MP4 video on youtube and my faith in him just died there and then. How could they? and they justify themselves by saying it was the same CD…aw!!! so shameful.
    Safaricom, face it and remove the ad from production. We know you for being creative and great and once in a while your ads have also inspired us. But pliz don’t try to rip the public off on the tariffs and now on an ad.

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