Twitter power – how social media can make or break you in minutes.

Sometimes, the best case studies for advertising, marketing and PR are in day to day events. In recent days, I noticed two excellent examples of the power of social media, Twitter in particular. Read on to see how one Twitter entry made a 23-year old famous around the world in minutes. And led to global embarrassment for a very senior person in the field of PR. Just one little ‘tweet’ is all it takes!

First, for the positive impact that a post on Twitter can have. The story that will make you feel good…

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Plagiarism in advertising: Copywriting legend Indra Sinha from the UK shares his views

The discussion on plagiarism and copy-paste creativity in advertising continues with this post. Looks like my earlier post has struck a chord, with the kind of response I have received. Everyone has, at least once in their life, had their idea stolen, borrowed, killed only to be resurrected again with someone else’s name on it.

An interesting, almost ironic, thing happened right after I posted my content online. Zeid Nasser of, a friend and fellow ad blogger in the region, re-posted my post, almost in its entirety, on his home page with a link back to my blog. (Thanks, Zeid.) The post has been titled ‘Plagiarism in the Middle East on the rise‘ which I have asked Zeid to reconsider since my post is about the ad industry not the Middle East. Interesting how far one post can go on the net, isn’t it?

I was also asked by a member of the Arabic media to comment on this issue. Good to know the interest generated by this theme. As I had written, plagiarism is a relevant issue that needs to be talked about. The post might have made some creative directors uncomfortable. Cool.

The most amazing part has been the mail sent in by Indra Sinha. He is a copywriting legend and a Booker Prize nominee who needs no introduction. His work for Amnesty International and Metropolitan Police will have any ad lover mesmerised. I would even go so far as to say that Indra is what young copywriters may want to be when they grow up. And this is what Indra wrote to me that I would like to share with you:

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Plagiarism and copy-paste creativity in advertising – copywriter in Dubai, UAE, continues the discussion on ethics in advertising

We the creative people in advertising – the creative directors, copywriters, art directors, graphic designers – take great pride in producing original ideas. At least that’s what we claim.

Then we see from amongst us, creatives being caught for copying not just a treatment or idea but entire sentences, phrases, tag lines, layouts with the fonts and visuals. I have even received emails from you, dear readers, alerting me to plagiarised ads. (An ad-blogging friend had sent me a copy of an ad he felt was a rip-off which he couldn’t put on his blog because they were also working for that client.)

The lack of self respect when one simply lifts someone else’s concept and execution is one of the reasons why we the advertising people have earned ourselves the notoriety of being in one of the least respected professions in the world. We have brought this upon us. (That email forward about “Don’t tell my mom I work in advertising…” comes to mind.)

Some of us just can’t help lifting stuff from advertising awards books. I have seen it happening so much, it has almost become an industry norm. Sad.

I remember one creative who kept the awards book he copied from, safely tucked in his drawer. So that no one will ever know where his ‘inspiration’ came from. His best idea was traced back to that book in his drawer.

Perhaps it’s the pressure of winning awards. Perhaps it’s the lack of confidence in some people about creating something world class with their own mind. It’s not what one would expect from an industry like ours, bursting at the seams with highly talented people. We have some of the brightest minds in business in the ad agency cubicles, halls, water cooler areas.

Call me a dreamer, but I am sure many of us in advertising believe that we don’t have to copy things from awards books and other people’s portfolios and websites. Yes, ideas are everywhere. But taking someone’s layout and copy?

And people who get into the habit of copy-paste don’t just stop at ad layouts. I recently came across a profile of an ad man that reads just like mine with exact phrases from my profile, on the same online network, in my own city!

I am reproducing a few of the many, many ‘coincidences’ I found below in this person’s profile:

My network profile: (Wants) partnerships for projects across the globe
Copy-paste profile: (Wants) Partnerships for projects across the globe

My network profile: campaigns for TV, radio, press, magazines, outdoor, direct marketing and the internet
Copy-paste profile: campaigns for TV, radio, press, magazines, outdoor, direct marketing and the internet

My network profile: worked on some of the hottest brands in the world
Copy-paste profile: worked for some of the hottest brands and companies in the world

I could have provided you a link to our friend’s profile – but then this post isn’t about any particular person. However, if you want to hire a ‘global creative director’ who’s good at copying and pasting things, email me and I might just give you the link.

Anyway, this post is about an unethical and unflattering practice that I feel does disservice to our advertising profession. It’s about two buttons on our keyboard – ‘Ctrl’ and ‘C’. Let’s not use them too much.

In the coming days, I plan to have a few more posts on copy-paste creativity in the world of advertising because discussion on this is relevant and needed, specially in the time of the internet which makes plagiarism easy to do. But then, it has also become easier to track. Thank you, Google.

Take the case of this blog as an example – I caught someone copying content from my blog, from as far as Russia, and pasting it as his own writing. Such a content-scraper can be easily banned from their web host on charges of copyright violation and breach of TOS. (Quoting from this blog, as this blog’s copyright notice says, is fine as long as the quote is attributed and linked back to my blog as the source.)  I believe in open source and information sharing but am strongly against plagiarism and credit-stealing.

What is your verdict, dear readers?

When does inspiration or benchmarking become plagiarism?

Have you met friends in the profession who feel it’s cool to copy as long as one doesn’t get caught?

Have your ideas and ads been lifted by other creatives who don’t have what it takes but are faking it?

If you are a brand manager or marketer, would you hire a self-professed ‘global creative director’ who’s been caught stealing ideas from others and passing them as his own?

Comments are open… I don’t fancy anonymous ones though.

Apple Macintosh’s legendary ‘Think Different’ campaign by TBWA Chiat/Day: A dream ad for any creative copywriter

For me as an advertising copywriter in Abu Dhabi, UAE, it’s good to benchmark with ads that have made a global impact. What is the stuff that memorable ads are made of?

One campaign that remains etched in my memory and gives me the I-wish-I’d-done-that feeling is Apple Macintosh’s ‘Think Different‘.

The personalities that the campaign featured were the ‘crazy ones’, who zigged when others zagged. The campaign theme ‘Think Different’ itself is a rule-breaker, as my fellow copywriters will notice. Here’s what the script of Apple’s legendary ad spot said…

Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits.

The rebels.

The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.

And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

They push the human race forward.And while some see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
that they can change the world…
are the ones who do.

The ‘Think Different’ campaign featured many people whose lives and thoughts I find inspiring – Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Mohammed Ali and Richard Branson whose autobiography I am reading these days.

Some of the people from TBWAChiatDay who made this award-winning ad campaign happen – Lee Clow, Chief Creative Officer, Jennifer Golub, Executive Producer, Jessica Schulman, Art Director – share their experience in ‘The Making of Think Different’ on YouTube.

Which one is your favourite legendary ad? An ad made you wish you were in advertising when you were a kid? Let me know and maybe we could share it here on this blog…

Useful Links:
1. Electric Escape reproduces an article by Stuart Elliott of the New York Times with an interview of TBWA Chiat/Day’s Lee Clow, Jessica Schulman, Jennifer Golub and Dan Bootzin
2. Detailed info by canadian-helper-ga on Google Answers about the background, credits and awards won by the ‘Think Different’ campaign
3. Wikipedia entry for the ‘Think Different’ campaign (yeah, it’s that legendary!)

Advertising account manager from the UK on why he loves us creative people so much

Creative people in advertising agencies usually share a love-hate relationship with their client servicing counterparts, also called account executives or simply ‘suits’. I had blogged about this in my post titled ‘Advertising account executives I fall in love with‘ (yeah, if people can love chihuahuas… suits are people too).

Mark HutchinsonMark Hutchinson, a senior account manager from the UK with accounts like Procter and Gamble in his CV, has responded after reading that post, on behalf of the suits of the world. I thought it’d be interesting to post his perspective.

If you are a creative reading this, I’d love to know what you feel about the relationship we have with the suits and whether you agree with Mark (he’s mostly written the good stuff, anyway). If you are a suit reading this, now you know I don’t really hate the suits, specially now after reading that part about ‘grating’ of the soul (see below).

If you are an account director reading this, and wondering how this suit looks in a suit, let me know in the comments section. (Mark’s got a ‘special’ someone in Dubai… he he.) Over to our guest, Mark:

In my experience, most of the time creatives and suits simply just don’t like each other.

A lot of suits simply don’t appreciate or value what creatives do and I’ve seen some of them even trying to design the work themselves, giving them a 5-year-old’s sketch version of what they want to see, not what the brief necessarily dictates.

Who are we to tell you guys what to write or design? I’m not a creative, what the hell would I know?

All I know is that I know good creative when I see it and there is nothing that makes me more enthusiastic, or more desperate to sell this idea to the client.

There is a flip side though, in that there are creatives who don’t respect what the suits have to do or who they have to deal with. It is often a pride swallowing role that often grates against the soul, no matter how high (or low) your personal levels of integrity are. Sometimes it’s forgotten that we are all on the same side. Thankfully I haven’t come across many of those in my career so far and those that I have, have often had more wrong with them than just getting on with people.

I have always had a great relationship with the creatives I work with, simply because I respect what they do and respect their views, even when they differ with mine. You guys are the ones that win the awards, not us.

Looking at the list of qualities, I’d consider all those points essential to a good account exec and certainly like to believe that I posses most of them.

As told to Farrukh Naeem by Mark Hutchinson

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