Advertising agency Dentsu Utama has steadfastly dismissed plagiarism charges levelled against its designs as “unfounded”.
Strongly disputing the charges, the agency today instructed its representatives to resign from the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) after the awards given to Dentsu Utama were revoked.
The 4As, which is the organiser of the advertising industry's prestigious Kancil Awards, had stripped two of Dentsu's winning submissions of eight awards after complaints of plagiarism emerged on social media.
"Throughout this period, Dentsu Utama has been openly cooperating with the 4As on this issue.
"Dentsu Utama, without being given the opportunity to defend itself, has now been informed that eight of the Kancil awards... won in December 2015 will be revoked... a decision which we believe is unsupported.
"As a result, Dentsu Utama and its representatives will resign from the 4As with immediate effect," it said in a statement on Facebook today.
The controversial advertisement design is Dentsu's 'Cross River Gorilla' for World Wildlife Fund and 'Professional Man' for Web Privacy Watch.
Statement from Dentsu Utama On 29 December Dentsu Utama was accused of plagiarism, a claim it strongly...
Dentsu Utama said that since the accusation of plagiarism emerged, it had started an international investigation which was supported by independent legal advice.
"The conclusion was that such accusations are unfounded.
"Dentsu Utama will continue its dialogue with the individual artists on this issue and will continue to support its opinion that the allegations are unfounded," it said.
UK-based designer Tom Anders Watkins, who first complained that Dentsu's 'Cross River Gorilla' was a blatant copy of his work, hailed 4As' decision to revoke the awards, stating that justice was finally served.
"Very pleased that people aren't getting away with it, and not to underestimate the power of the internet," he said in a Twitter posting.
Watkins' initial complaint in December had gone viral on social media, casting a spotlight on Dentsu's other works.
— Tom Anders Watkins (@TomAnders_) December 29, 2015
Media and advertising portal Mumbrella reported that the advertisement done by Dentsu Utama for Web Privacy Watch "contained almost identical images" to the work of Swedish artist Erik Johanssor's 'Architect'.
It also quoted Kancil's jury chair Tan Kien Eng as saying that Kancil awards viewed seriously works that are deemed sufficiently close to works created originally elsewhere.
"We must maintain a high level of integrity and credibility as 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," he was quoted as saying.