Career Suicide Hotline
Operator: Career Suicide Hotline. How may I assist you today?
Creative Director: Hi, I’m about to present a concept to the client tomorrow. It’s really catchy.
Operator: That’s amazing.
Creative Director: I’m just a little worried because it might be perceived as a copy. I actually thought of it while looking for reference ads on Youtube.
Operator: Ok. How similar do you think your concept may be to this ‘reference’?
Creative Director: Um… about 80% is the same.
Operator: That sounds unethical.
Creative Director: That’s okay. Chances of the client digging out this ad are really low. It was on page 4 of the Youtube search results. Nobody goes there. It’s not unethical if nobody ever finds out. Which they won’t.
Operator: That’s not what unethical means…
Creative Director: Besides, even if they find out… I’ll just say its ‘inspired’.
Operator: That might not fly so well with your client.
Creative Director: But the reference is from Thailand! Nobody knows their language anyway.
Operator: Did you at least write the dialogue for it by yourself?
Creative Director: Yes. But I took some help.
Operator: Help? From your copywriting team?
Creative Director: No, from the comments. Some user had translated the ad’s dialogues into English and posted it right below.
Operator: Uh, did you at least reword it?
Creative Director: No need. The translation was spot on. Changing it will just make the concept weak.
Operator: I’m afraid that…
Creative Director: I did change the brand name to the client’s. Added their tagline too. To be honest it looks a little out of place with the rest of the concept.
Operator: I’m afraid that you’re about to commit career suicide.
Creative Director: What? No way. In our industry, everybody does this. All the time. Even big brands.
Operator: You know they GET called out for that, right? It causes a loss of brand equity in the eyes of the customer.
Creative Director: Yeah, but this one’s a big budget TVC campaign. No pesky keyboard warriors like in digital.
Operator: So it’s never going to run on social media?
Creative Director: Well, the client said they wanted a DVC but we convinced them that they should do a full-scale TVC instead. Helped justify our proposed production budgets too.
Operator: So they aren’t going to post it on their digital assets.
Creative Director: I’m not sure. They are pretty gung ho about the whole digital thing. I told them it’s crap, but they won’t listen.
Operator: You’re going to get massacred. Your agency will be ridiculed. You’ll lose the client, and other brands won’t hire your agency either.
Creative Director: That’s fine, I’m about to jump ship anyway. I’m sending in my resignation right after this project goes through. Got a very healthy offer from another agency.
Operator: I think your current employers won’t clear your dues if they find out that you’ve plagiarizing concepts.
Creative Director: It’s okay, I have a fat cut coming in from the director as well. I’ve known him since ages.
Operator: Does the director care that you’re literally ripping off a Thai ad?
Creative Director: Yeah, kind of. I think his snitch AD found the same reference. But he doesn’t care because he’s not going to showcase it on his showreel anyway. It’s a means to an end, you see.
Operator: Sir, do you have any other concept to present apart from this one?
Creative Director: Personally, I don’t… though my team did a few.
Operator: Why don’t you pick from those, instead?
Creative Director: They’re shit. I can’t visualize them like I did this one.
Operator: But, this is already produced.
Creative Director: Listen, on second thought. I don’t know why I called on this number. I’m good.
Operator: I’m sorry to hear that.
Creative Director: I just have one more question.
Operator: (Sigh) Go on.
Creative Director: Would it be pushing it if I get this shot in Thailand only? The director says it’ll be fun. He was telling me about this crazy place in Soi Nana where the girls…
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Umair Kazi is Partner, Ishtehari.Take a peek inside his mind at shinynewthoughts.com