Malaysia 4As Disqualifies Agency Dentsu Utama For Plagiarism

by . January 14th, 2016

Malaysia’s most prestigious advertising awards show, the Kancils, has withdrawn the awards of member agency, Dentsu Utama, for plagiarism.


Dentsu Utama submitted creative work for “Cross River Gorilla”, an anti-poaching campaign for World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia, and “Professional Man”, an internet privacy awareness campaign for Web Privacy Watch. The two works were deemed sufficiently similar to the work of UK-based design student Tom Anders  and Swedish artist Erik Johansson.



In a news post from the Malaysia 4As website, Tan Kien Eng, Creative Council Chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett said “An investigation was initiated by the Malaysia 4As following various complaints of the obvious similarities to the original creations. This action is being taken to remedy a contentious situation while upholding the principles of eligibility for the Kancil Awards.” According to Tan, the original creators have shown proof that their works were posted much earlier.


In a tweet, Tom Anders pointed out the similarity of the agency’s anti-poaching WWF ad campaign and his work and accused them of blatantly copying his design.

With the association ruling in their favor, Tom Anders said he is “Very pleased that people aren’t getting away with it, and not to underestimate the power of the Internet.” Erik Johansson simply tweeted “Justice”.

“We take a serious view of work that are deemed sufficiently close to works created originally elsewhere,” Tan notes. “We must maintain a high level of integrity and credibility as the industry’s official body in Malaysia. The decision to disqualify the awards for both creative works was not taken lightly as we had explored all possible scenarios. In the end, the facts were overwhelmingly in favour of the original creators.”

Statement from Dentsu Utama On 29 December Dentsu Utama was accused of plagiarism, a claim it strongly…

Posted by Dentsu Utama on Thursday, 7 January 2016

As a result of the ruling, agency Dentsu Utama and its representatives has withdrawn from the Malaysia 4As association. In a statement in their Facebook page, the agency said “Throughout this period Dentsu Utama has been openly cooperating with the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) on this issue. Dentsu Utama, without being given the opportunity to defend itself, has now been informed that eight of the Kancil awards related to the WWF Anti-Poaching Cross River Gorilla and the Web Privacy Watch – Professional Man campaigns won in December 2015 will be revoked. A decision which we believe is unsupported.”


(via The Star)

They maintained that the conclusions and accusations has no basis. “Dentsu Utama will continue its dialogue with the individual artists on this issue and continue to support its opinion that the allegations are unfounded,” the statement continued.

The Kancil Awards is the most prestigious advertising awards competition in Malaysia. This year was the awards’ 20th anniversary.

Are the artworks “sufficiently similar”? Comment below!


Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.