WWF says it was unaware that disqualified ad had been entered for Kancil Awards show

Tweet by Tom Anders Watson

Tweet by Tom Anders Watson accusing Dentsu of plagiarism

WWF, the green group whose anti-poaching ad was disqualified from Malaysia’s Kancil Awards following allegations of plagiarism last week, has said that it was not aware that the work had been entered into the awards show.

The ‘Cross River Gorilla’ piece for WWF Indonesia by ad agency Dentsu Utama was disqualified by the Malaysia 4As after a formal investigation prompted by a complaint from a design student in the UK, who claimed his work had been “blatantly copied”. The work won a large number of awards, helping Dentsu Utama claim agency of the year at the Kancils.

WWF informed Mumbrella today that they had been approached by Dentsu Utama with an offer to support the charity in early 2015. The group was later sent some artwork, and asked to email the agency to confirm consent to run the campaign, but was not informed the work would be submitted for an awards show. 

WWF also claims that no one at the organisation was aware of the work of British designer Tom Anders Watkins before the debate about the origination of the ad ignited in social media.

In response to Mumbrella’s questions, Intan M. Sukarna, head of digital development at the green group, said in a statement: “WWF-Indonesia was approached on the possibility of Dentsu’s willingness to support WWF. We viewed some artwork in March 2015 and then were notified later by a Dentsu representative that the advertisements had run in Indonesia with a poster format in newsletters in Jakarta and requesting an email verifying WWF-Indonesia’s consent to the campaign.”

“WWF-Indonesia was not aware that the posters had been entered for a competition in Malaysia. At no stage prior to the conversation in social media was anyone in WWF-Indonesia aware of the artwork of Tom Anders Watkins.”

“WWF-Indonesia welcomes the attempt by Dentsu to resolve this issue directly with Mr Watkins,” she wrote.

Mumbrella has approached the agency for comment.

Dentsu Utama’s work for IT security firm Web Privacy Watch was also disqualified for plagiarism at the Kancils. The Malaysia 4As ruled that ‘Professional Man’ was a copy of work by Swedish artist Erik Johansson and its awards revoked last week.

Dentsu Utama has objected to the disqualification ruling by the 4As, calling the decision “unsupported” in a statement issued on Friday. It withdrew from the 4As in protest.

The agency has said that it is still in talks with Anders Watkins and Johansson and continues to “support its opinion that the allegations are unfounded.”

Dentsu Utama’s campaign for Uyee Chinese Medical Company was “not sufficiently similar” to a project for a Chinese skateboard decoration firm Challenge Skateboard to constitute copyright infringement, the 4As found in a separate investigation at the beginning of last week.


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