Leo Burnett KL begins legal proceedings against director over plagiarism allegations

A 'letter of demand' to Leo Burnett

Tan Chui Mui’s letter of demand to Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur has initiated legal proceedings against Tan Chui Mui, the director who accused the agency of plagiarising the Petronas commercial Rubber boy.

The agency gave the film-maker 48 hours to remove all social media posts in which she accused Leo Burnett of copying the idea and script of the ad, which was shortlisted at the Cannes Lions. She did not take the posts down within that time frame, and in a Facebook post challenged the agency to produce evidence to prove her wrong.

In a statement released last night, the agency stated: 

Kuala Lumpur, 30 June 2016 – Leo Burnett Malaysia does not see it appropriate to ventilate a dispute over social media. Leo Burnett will therefore be initiating legal proceedings against Tan Chui Mui and other parties to have the matter heard at the appropriate forum. In the circumstances, Leo Burnett will not comment further on the issue on social media and will let the Courts decide on the matter.

Leo Burnett claims that Tan, who is a director for Da Huang Pictures, is trying to hurt the agency’s reputation through her claims.

Tan says the agency took her idea and script and used it to make Rubber boy without her permission.

The agency has strenuously denied Tan’s claims, with the creative director, business director and CEO going on record to refute her assertions, producing evidence in a series of Facebook posts to counter the claims.

On her Facebook page last night, her followers posted messages of support, and accused Leo Burnett of “bullying” her by taking the legal route. One commenter said they would help crowdfund her legal fees, another said that they’d heard she had hire a “very, very good lawyer.”

Update: Tan has confirmed on Facebook that she has hired Malik Imtiaz Sarwar as her lawyer on a pro bono basis. “After this I will be represented by my lawyer, and I shall not talk more about my issues with Leo Burnett until I see them in court,” she wrote, thanking those who had offered their support and to help pay for her legal fees.

Rubber boy is a much-liked film about a poor boy who learns to appreciate the sacrifices his mother has made for him. The film is part of a fine tradition of festive-season commercials for Petronas that have attained iconic status in Malaysia.


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