|Did Leo Burnett Steal Asylum's Work?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
No doubt, when small shops work with big shops, the small shop executives at times get the nervous itch in their minds about what they would do if the big shop decides to steal an idea, copy their work, or shoulder them out of a deal. It happens. It makes us small agency folks nervous because the outcome can be unclear. It could take away our chances to play with the big boys.
Such is the case between Asylum Films and Leo Burnett, UK. Asylum Films is a small creative shop that has provided Leo Burnett with work, much of which seems to be equally attributed. Until now. The director of the shop wrote an open letter to Leo Burnett's head of TV, explaining that its arm in the UK blatantly ripped off work Asylum did for the Ronald McDonald Charity.
When you watch the two ads back-to-back, it is hard to rule against Asylum's claim.
This raises several questions.
If Asylum submitted the work for Leo Burnett to use for the RMHC campaign, is Leo Burnett allowed to modify as it sees fit? Asylum mentioned that they were approached by Leo to do the work. If Leo liked the concept, and nothing was in the contract saying that they couldn't reproduce it, is Leo Burnett, UK really in the wrong? Is Asylum upset — and rightfully so — that Leo Burnett took Asylum's concept and "with a bigger budget" produced Asylum's work? If Leo Burnett gave Asylum the credit it deserves, would the creative shop's director still be angry?
Did Leo Burnett UK violate an unwritten rule of reproducing work it paid for?
If we were in Asylum's position, we would be quite upset too. This was a huge opportunity for them to showcase the production quality of the shop. They had a tight turnaround and a tight budget, and they made it work. So to see a bigger shop do it on a larger scale because they could would be extremely disappointing to see.
Especially without warning.
Earlier this week the Asylum director had a call with the CEO of Leo Burnett. It will be interesting to see how the shop responds.
Respect the work.
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