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Copied work: The Econet Broadband ad campaign

We recently came across a very striking similarity between Econet Broadband ads and those Allen Solly (a retail chain in India). The Econet campaign was created by Young and Rubicam Johannesburg, which since last year has listed Econet Wireless as one of its major accounts.

This is not the first time a South African agency has done controversial work in the telecoms arena. A few years ago, the Botswana Telecoms Corporation (BTC) had to fire fight an allegation that Be Mobile (its newly launched mobile operator at the time) more than resembled core aspects of the Beeline brand. Beeline is Russia’s biggest mobile operator and its brand alone is worth US$ 7 billion, It is also part of Vimpelcom Group which owns a controlling stake in Telecel Zimbabwe. The branding was developed by 8 Branding & Design which promptly denied allegations of plagiarism but did admit that ‘certain aspects were similar’.

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This should be a lesson for local ICT companies and startups. Branding is very important as it represents the spirit of a company, entrusting any design or marketing work should be done so to people who understand or believe in what a company stands for.  No matter how much money is thrown at a campaign , nothing beats working with people who are synced in to the purpose, goal, or vision behind a campaign. If a company does not clearly define what it stands for or represents, others will fill in the void.

Y&R Johannesburg is the engine of Y&R Africa, which has a presence in 35 African countries and is a part of London listed WPP PLC; the world’s biggest marketing company. It counts Pick n Pay, Colgate, Danone, LG among its clientele and has won awards at Cannes (the Oscars of Advertising), the New York Festival and the Clios.

At the time of publishing this article, Melanie Behan (Y&R’s Johannesburg MD) had not responded to questions we sent her seeking clarity about this issue.

Here’s another one:


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37 thoughts on “Copied work: The Econet Broadband ad campaign

    1. Nyasha, no one is pointing a finger at anyone, these guys are simply noting things that you yourself has seen too. I dont see anything wrong here, lets not get emotional, hapana muzukuru waMasiiwa pano.

  1. Why re invent the wheel go Econet go. The campaign is/was new to the Zim Market so its new!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Oh my God … oh wow. This is bad. This is really bad. Econet need to fire that agency right quick, and that agency need to fire their creative director chop chop.

    There is no excuse for this, even if the campaign was new to the Zimbabwean market as someone said.

    Gilbert, yes, it happens, but that doesn’t make it okay, in fact it’s total BS. That’s why websites like http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/ came about.

  3.  Muronda tsimba, lol. I like the Econet version better though. Borrowing ideas is not something new infact it has been done time and time again. Personally i dnt really care about the designs i care about the product that was being marketed and behold it is good.

    1. Its just the same theme guys give the designer a break. There are a lot of design like this all over the world hell the Allen Solly design is not the first of this kind.

  4. the thing is that Econet has grown too big to think,had it used its greatness to seek for unique talent it wld have done something tangible. Now i dont hesitate to <"Go Ahead and tell someone" thats Telecel.

  5. the repercussions aren’t imaginable if someone decides to sue. as a brand that strives on innovation, this is won’t go down well with econet. 

  6. matsotsi, thats why we should support each other locally to produce concepts. the foreign agencies assume we will never find out.

  7. i hate plagiarism,its creative theft econet should have known better serves them right for not awarding the contract  to a local firm

  8. I’ve worked in the Zim ad industry for the last few year and i’ve seen this happening all the time. And while it’s ok to look for inspiration from other, making minimal changes and passing it off as your own is just rediculous. And it’s not just the Tech sector unfortunately, there is just no excuse for this sort of “copy and paste”

  9. Guys i`m a Graphic Designer, this is Pure Plagarism! We have good Ad Agencies here in Zim why engage some foreign ad agency like we dont hve our own. Econet got what they wanted!

  10. Its the same with software solutions outsourced to diaspora because ‘noone here can do it’. We should engage locals like infinisys!

  11. Econet has a partner who acts like them so what? they understand each other very well. Econet steals ideas from people all the time and change colors, or logos….

  12. I hope Econet get a full refund for an ad campaign they most likely spend 100s of thousands on. In Europe, something like this could completely destroy a first class Ad agencies images with lawsuits costing millions. Y & R should be ashamed of themselves for tarnishing the image of their client. Yes there are very few completely original ideas, but that is why millions of dollars are spent by massive corporations to the best agencies in the world, so they know they are getting the best original talent working on their campaigns. Can you imagine the repercussions if someone Coke paid for an ad campaign that was plagerised from a Pepsi campaign? If we want to be treated like the rest of the world, we must aspire to the same standards they are judged by, being in Africa is no excuse whatsoever. Something like this brings us all down.

  13. I hope Econet had a very good reason for engaging with a foreign agency because I do not see the reason why they would go all the way to S.A when we can do it here. Now look whats happening to them, such a big company being taken for granted. I am sure if they had engaged with local agencies, they would have been treated in a better way other than to work with COPY-CATS! Local agencies know your value and understands better the market you are dealing with therefore quality services are guaranteed. ECONET you been walked over but sad part is that you have accepted this humiliation.

  14. Maybe Strive couldn’t find any good Advertising and Design Agencies in Zimbabwe that’s why he engaged Y&R – think twice!

  15. all the lazy morons who thrive by hijacking other peoples noble creativity should be exposed. The world is too small to copy in such a cheap manner….those who feel offended share similar traits and we will not spare you simply because you have exposed your ignorant self on this comment list….we strongly and vehemently hate you

  16. ecomakatswa u shld hve given this account to a local ad agency we need laws to protect our agencies gvt help us this is not in line with indeginasation

  17. That’s what I always say about the behavior of my fellow Zimbabwean advertising minds, this system of designing/plagiarizing as if the world can not google our work must stop.

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