Local designer calls out SIA for copying Funko Pop! Singapore Girl idea

Local designer Keith Lee recently called out national carrier Singapore Airlines for its exclusive Funko Pop! Singapore Girl collection sold in KrisShop. According to the designer, he had pitched the idea of a Singapore Girl figurine to SIA in 2015 but was shot down.

Lee's full Facebook post read, "They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. I guess it's somewhat heartening to see your baby all grown up without you. What a difference a few years made #expectationvsreality #10yearschallenge."

Lee also responded to comments from netizens that he had previously proposed two versions of the figurines to SIA back in 2015. According to Lee, SIA had not taken up on his offer but the Funko Pop-inspired doll appeared on the airline's online shopping site three years later. Responding to netizen queries, he also said.

In a statement to Marketing an SIA spokesperson confirmed that the item in question is based on an original design by a vendor it works with. The spokesperson added that it is aware of this feedback and is following up on this matter closely. "We remain open to receiving suggestions on new product offerings from both our employees as well as our customers," the statement said.

The issue of idea theft or "imitation" is not new to the Singapore market. In 2014, the local ad industry was riled by the tiff between the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and local design agency DoodleRoom, where the latter accused STB of recycling its work without its permission, and not inviting it back to pitch the following year for the account.

Globally in 2016, a Melbourne-based photographer, Jack Hawkins accused fashion brand CK for possibly copying his work. In a post on photography blog site Petapixel, he says he recently saw the My Calvin’s campaign which resembled some of his work. After talking to several intellectual property lawyers, he found that there was indeed a case. And while the issue is one that many, both on the brand and agency have expressed disappointment around, it still persists.

Meanwhile, in recent time, SIA has been in the news quite a fair bit. Just last week, the airline responded to consumers who voiced the fact that they felt watched on the flights, stating that the cameras on its in-flight entertainment have been “permanently disabled” and cannot be activated on board. This came after some passengers complained on Twitter and raised concerns around privacy laws and compliance. Some of the netizens said that the cameras, albeit disabled, has to be covered up. A couple of netizens also raised a question if these cameras complied with GDPR regulations. The airline also told Marketing in a statement that it has no plans to enable or develop any features using those cameras.

(Photo courtesy: KrisShop)