Additional facts about the Lynx, plagiarism and copycat in the Arab World


Louai Alasfahani

Managing Director/Chief Creative Officer – Paragon Marketing Communication

Secretary General – IAA Kuwait Chapter

The following is the full set of questions sent in by Arab Ad and the answers that i sent in which were supposed to be published in their May issue but for some reasons where never published.

1- In the advertising world, copycat/plagiarism has been a hot topic with a number of high-profile cases including the recent news of the Lynx awards.
In your opinion, do the negative findings and bad ending of this year’s Lynx Award taint the reputation of the ad industry in the Arab World?

The “findings” you are referring to, are the unlawful entries into the recent Lynx, which are unquestionably negative; however the exposure of such “findings” and the punitive actions taken so far are undeniably positive; so this years’ Lynx should not be seen as a bad ending but rather viewed as a good beginning towards awarding work that reflects the creative reality of the Arab world.

The entire ad industry in the Middle East cannot be liable for the choice of others to win by cheating and the only reputations that got tainted were of the individuals/agencies proved guilty of unlawful practices that demonstrated lack of self-respect, no appreciation of the Lynx organizers/judges and the abandonment of the ad industry.

2- With the Lynx resulting disgraceful news to the ad industry in the Middle East, how could our creative people maintain a reputation of being tough on cheating? Do you suppose that FP7 Doha’s misconduct will work as a lesson for others not to follow?

Lets keep things focused and in actual proportion – The Lynx did not result in disgraceful news to the ad industry in the Middle East. Creativity awards function like mirrors, reflecting undistorted images of its subjects. If we don’t like an ugly reflection can we blame the mirror!

We cannot maintain that which we have not yet established. Taking punitive actions establishes the reputation of being tough on cheating; ensuring that history does not repeat itself maintains the reputation of being though on cheating. On this note; I hope that the organizers of the Dubai Lynx investigate all the agencies accused of misconduct and not stop at FP7 Doha, as they were not the only agency guilty of misconduct although punitive actions against them served a good lesson for the entire industry.

3- Should the Lynx organisers have taken more rigorous actions against FP7, in regards to the ethical standards expected of them?

To insure that this years’ disappointment does not become next years’ disaster the Lynx organizers should have taken more rigorous actions against everyone proved not to have withheld the ethical standards expected from them regardless if they were awarded, shortlisted or simply entered into the competition in accordance with their own rules “Entrants or companies who are proved to have deliberately and knowingly contravened any rules relating to eligibility may be barred from entering the awards for a period of time following the Festival as specified by the Organizers”

John Hegarty – worldwide creative director of BBH in a recent interview stressed the enforcement of such rules “any agency found to have cheated should have all its entries withdrawn and, depending on the severity of the case, face a suspension from entering for a fixed period of time”.

Till date the Lynx has not announced news on any agency being suspended, they are yet to announce news pertaining to the results of their investigations into other agencies work and news of FP7 internal investigation findings are still pending.

4- It seems ‘copy-caters’ around the Arab world have kept themselves busy reproducing foreign original work, as their own, so much so that it is impossible to keep track of it all.  Do you believe legal implications should be embraced in cases of advertising plagiarism and culprits punished by bodies such as the IAA for instance? Please elaborate.

Legal implications should be embraced in the case of advertising plagiarism on various levels.

The organizers of creativity awards can take legal action because plagiarizers damage their credibility and ultimately result in their financial loss.

Agencies can take legal or disciplinary actions against plagiarizers within their own organization because plagiarizers damage their reputation and could lead to legal actions taken against them as well as financial loss.

The IAA (to my knowledge) unfortunately cannot legally punish anyone; however they can boycott creativity awards and organizations that do not maintain ethical standards.

I hope that one day local governments would enforce the existing copyright laws by actions similar to those taken against importers of fake products or publishers of misleading ads as It is no longer impossible to keep track of copycats since the dawn of the internet and the proliferation of sites such as,, and (just to name a few) coupled with the increasing awareness of the people in ad land and their blogs which means “You can fool some of the people some of the time; you cannot fool all the people all the time”.

5- Defining just where influence ends and plagiarism begins can be a difficult question. Knowing you and your dedication to passionately fighting copycat executions in the Arab world, who should, in your opinion, be the solo judge of a plagiarism accusation and what should the ad industry do to live in a state of radical originality?

I do not believe that the burden of fighting copycats should be laid solely on the back of a single individual or entity.

Plagiarism affects everyone in the industry so the entire industry should be united in fighting this battle and since there is no “ultimate god of advertising” I am thankful that there are plenty of passionate professionals out there that can collectively be entrusted with the task of judging cases of plagiarism accusations; which could be coordinated with several IAA chapters simultaneously.

Any additional shouts?….

“You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements” – Norman Douglas.   

Most people claim to be seeking the truth; but the truth is that most people cannot handle the truth; Even though International creativity awards instantly disqualify copycats, clichés badly written or badly executed work – copycats/spoofs/ghost ads continue to win local and regional creativity awards and If the laws (or the ignorance of some) did not prevail in preventing copycats from profiting financially from plagiarism does that necessitate awarding them on the basis of creativity! Agencies are paid to create good work not to copy great work because “Imitation is not the most sincere form of admiration but the sincerest form of thievery”.


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Louai Alasfahani

ANUBIS was a very old god of the ancient Egyptians, universally worshipped throughout the land and became considered the gatekeeper and ruler of the underworld; the “Guardian of the veil“ he was “Lord of the Cleansing Room” and the opener of the roads of the North. “He observed the weighing of the deceased’s heart against the feather of Maat [Truth] and reported his findings to the jury of the gods.


Skype: louai.asfahani

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