UPDATED: Sham-tastic Golden Kancil?

“Surprise us. The idea is everything, whether it's for a car or a toothpaste, telecommunications or charity, big budget or low budget."

Read BBDO's response


That is the challenge the 4As laid down to advertisers who hoped to win the Rebel/Innovation Kancil Award, among others, last week.

Yet the winning idea, BBDO’s Phone Stack for KFC, which also took home the only Golden Kancil of the night, has its share of detractors who have (of course) taken to Facebook to vent their dissatisfaction.

The issue? Phone Stack allegedly uses a pre-existing idea dreamed up by Californian youths.

Phone Stacking aka Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends is a game that discourages friends from answering their smartphones and responding to messages while dining out. Phones are surrendered to a communal stack at the commencement of a meal. The first person to respond to their buzzing devices will pick up the bill.

Industry personnel savvy enough to perform a quick Google search noticed the obvious similarities between this casual game and the Golden Kancil winning idea. However, there are differences, which beg the question: how original does an idea have to be to win a Golden Kancil?

Edward Ong, deputy chairman of the 4As Creative Council and executive creative director of RAPP defends the jury panel’s decision, telling A+M that the Golden Kancil winner was actually decided via a secret ballot, with Phone Stack coming up at the top. He further adds that the Golden Kancil's decision saw the most participants from the jury council as well.

As for originality, Ong says that nothing is truly original.

"Every 'new' idea is simply an old idea that has been improved on. Phone Stack was awarded simply because the idea was brand relevant, effective, had social value and most importantly, addresses a very current and modern phenomenon."

Award shows have a reputation for politics, illogical results and in some cases, dishonesty.

However, despite the hue and cry, David Mitchell, council member of 4As and chief operating officer of Naga DDB tells A+M that a formal complaint has yet to be raised to the 4As council. He assures us that 4As takes their members opinions seriously and it is their prerogative to raise issues for discussion.

There has never been a precedence of 4As retracting Kancil Awards from winners.

Fair play is a bit subjective in this matter.

Response from BBDO Malaysia managing director Michelle Achuthan:

The behaviour of Phone Stack especially among a group of friends is not new. We all know that.

The article, that's being bandied about which refers to a similar act titled Phone Stack, is clear testament to the fact. This was widely circulated online last year.

What we did therefore is to capitalise on an existing behaviour.

We took an analog initiative and used technology to create a mobile app that is engaging and relevant to KFC.

KFC is after all, a place where all Malaysians come together to enjoy great food. However, people are not enjoying each others' company as much as they should, simply because they are glued to their phones.

With the use of technology, the KFC Phone Stack was taken to a whole new level. It's an innovative way of getting people to connect, by disconnecting. And KFC rewards them for it.

The KFC Phone Stack is a fun mobile app and I urge everyone to download and try it.