A storm is brewing in Western Australia, as CEO and chairman of WPP’s The Brand Agency, Steve Harris called out another anonymous agency (now found to be independent Wildling Creative) for claiming other agencies’ work as its own.
That agency claimed work created by Marketforce, Wunderman Thompson, and The Brand Agency as its own on its website – however it has been removed overnight.
Wildling was created last month after Significant Other, an agency founded this year by Matt Wilson and Luke Williams merged with Horse and Hound. The creative pair departed Wunderman Thompson Perth in December last year.
After publishing this article, Mumbrella was informed that Williams left Significant Other before the merger, now working at Marketforce.
Mumbrella contacted Wildling ahead of this article’s publishing.
Harris called out the agency in his LinkedIn post, despite not mentioning its name. “Dishonesty is a terrible thing in an advertiser or an advertising agency. And when it is blatant, easily discoverable and in the public domain there has to be some question marks over the integrity and intelligence of the perpetrators.
“A start-up Perth ad agency is falsely claiming to have produced a number of high-profile campaigns that were actually produced by other Perth agencies. Yep, they’ve posted case studies on their web site for work they didn’t do and included a narrative about how “they” developed and delivered the work.
“To be clear, I don’t have any issue with individuals who have worked on a client or campaign who then move agencies and choose to include their involvement in that work in their CV, portfolio, personal website or even client credentials presentations. I do take issue with an agency passing off another agency’s work as their own when that agency never worked on the client.”
Among the work that still remains on the Wildling website, the agency states it created Hungry Puffs for Foodbank WA, however only shows work on the site for the campaign this year for My Foodie Box, ‘The Disappointing Discount’.
The description for Hungry Puffs is starkly similar to that posted on The Brand Agency’s website, the agency that created the campaign.
Wilson did work on the Hungry Puffs campaign for FoodBank WA, however, while working for The Brand Agency in 2019, which is now being claimed on the Wildlings site to have been created by Wildling, an agency that did not exist at the time, nor did Significant Other.
Hungry Puffs was an award-winning campaign which won a Yellow Pencil at D&AD and a Silver and two Bronze Lions at Cannes.
Following Harris’ post, the agency has also removed a post showing the agency’s D&AD award.
“It’s also worth noting that individuals rarely create work on their own. It usually involves a whole host of people from different areas. For individuals to claim the work as a solo effort and credit a new agency several years after the fact is disrespectful to their colleagues who all made contributions,” said Harris.
“I’ve chosen not to name the agency at this stage, but it is pretty blatant when they actually say “we created” the campaign when the agency didn’t. They are even using images and material directly lifted from case study material produced by other agencies.
“Worse still, the work by The Brand Agency featuring on their web site was pro bono for a not-for-profit organisation. The agency claiming the work is not only claiming The Brand Agency’s work as its own, it is claiming work that was done pro bono when it hasn’t contributed a minute of time or a cent of cash. It’s taking credit for another’s charity contribution to the community in which we live and work. Not very nice.”
While again not naming the agency this morning, Harris told Mumbrella: “I’m really conscious of creative people when they do work at an agency and leave an agency, they’ve got to have a portfolio and present that work in order to get new jobs, and they’re going to say I worked on this client and I’ve got category experience. I fully respect the freedom as creative people to do that, and I think it’s an important part of the industry and important part of their jobs.”
“But in this case, and it’s not just Brand Agency work, there are actually three agencies involved, one was Marketforce and the other Wunderman Thompson. The individuals who work at this agency, what they’ve done is the work that they produced at Marketforce, Brand Agency and Wunderman Thompson, and they were all working separately at those agencies, and they actually put it up on their website as case studies and specifically said that the work was produced by them.”
The agency listed work on its website for the West Australian Ballet, which was completed while working for Wunderman Thompson also, as well as the Cold Campaign for Anglicare.
The post has raised a debate within the advertising industry around crediting all involved for creating work, with Harris’ original post garnering 98 comments already.
This article was updated after publishing, to reflect that Williams no longer works with the agency.
Read More: Perth creative agency called out for claiming other agencies’ work on its website