7-Eleven Singapore has removed images of its recent Hawker Fiesta campaign, after it was called out by creative studio 8EyedSpud for copying its art work for the Singapore Hawker Culture campaign by the UNESCO. In a public post made by the 8EyedSpud on its Instagram page, the agency said that given the pride it takes in the work it creates, ”it is truly disappointing and saddening [for the studio] to see [work getting] ripped off”.
The post by 8EyedSpud was published three days ago, and a quick check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE yesterday showed that the posts were still available on 7-Eleven’s social pages. However, this morning 7-Eleven shared a statement with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE stating that “7-Eleven respects originality and creativity and this is always our principle of communications.”
“Since the receipt of enquiry from 8EyedSpud, we have reached out to our appointed agency, LH.M Advertising, to understand the matter. With respect to 8EyedSpud, we have removed all social media posts of this campaign with immediate effect and would not be rolling out any further communications consisting of the relevant graphics,” it added. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has also reached out to LH.M Advertising for a statement.
Meanwhile, according to 8EyedSpud, prior to writing the public post, the studio reached out to 7-Eleven to bring the matter to light, and was subsequently put in touch with LH.M Advertising. 8EyedSpud’s founders told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the creative agency LH.M Advertising took responsibility for the campaign, and explained that it had engaged an external illustrator who drew the 7-Eleven Hawker Fiesta illustration.
According to 8EyedSpud's founders Natalie Kwee and Jacqueline Goh, LH.M Advertising also mentioned that the illustrator had indicated that he took the reference from the Singapore Hawker Culture campaign illustrations while he was drawing, but had no intention in copying. While the agency offered to meet with the illustrator and business director in charge of 7-Eleven to discuss extending due credits where possible to 8EyedSpud, 8EyedSpud turned down the offer.
“For us, while there was no intention of copying, there are far too many similarities for this to be regarded simply as ‘inspiration’,” the founders told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE. “At the end of the day, we are just looking to move the needle on creative integrity in the industry. We realised it is sadly too common of an occurrence in Singapore,” Kwee and Goh shared.
The duo further reiterated that they were neither looking for monetary compensation nor for the campaign to be removed. “Rather, to have our work so closely adapted for a campaign that has national reach has been disappointing and discouraging. We hope this unfortunate experience will result in positive change — whether it is through the manner in which freelancers are briefed, doing necessary due diligence, and/or maintaining baseline ethical industry standards,” they said.
Is copying of creativity still rampant in the ad industry?
During the conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, 8EyedSpud's founders also shared that publishing the post led to an outcry of support from the creative community where many other local creative artists reached out with similar experiences with companies. “They were either bullied into silence or had the campaigns quietly taken down without any public acknowledgment. Sadly this seems to be something that happens more frequently than it should,” said the founders.
The studio also posted a message to companies and agencies asking for them to respect the creativity of the artists they hired and trust them to deliver. The post read, “If you have a direction in mind, get them to explore a theme from their own point of view. Don't force a style and mandate you saw elsewhere. Don't water down your brand with thoughtless imitation.”
As for a message for the artist community, the post acknowledged that it is sometimes hard to stand your ground when a client is adamant about pursuing a certain direction. “Do the leg work beforehand. Go beyond the visuals. Ask them what they are trying to achieve with their campaign and provide solutions that stay true to your style and allow you to be creatively fulfilled. If you're into deep and the client isn't giving you any leeway, there are ways to push firmly and educate them by simply tracing over artwork that would not be in their (or your) best interests,” the post read.
Separately, in June, Yuga Labs, creator for Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, sued artist Ryder Ripps for selling similar looking NFT's that were confusing potential buyers. According to the lawsuit seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Yuga Labs accused Ripps for trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and cybersquatting.
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