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’.
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: