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Image source: Instagram account of 8EyedSpud
Image source: Instagram account of 8EyedSpud

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7-Eleven Singapore called out for copying images for its Hawker Fiesta campaign

7-Eleven Singapore is accused of copying images for its recent Hawker Fiesta 2022 campaign from creative studio 8EyedSpud’s artwork for Hawker Culture 2020.

8EyedSpud contacted the convenience store chain to notify them about the matter, and it was subsequently put in touch with the creative agency LH.M Advertising that 7-Eleven had engaged.

The advertising agency acknowledged the infringement but defended itself by claiming that the 7-Eleven Hawker Fiesta illustration was created by an outside illustrator that it had hired.

The illustrator revealed that he took references from 8EyedSpud’s Singapore Hawker Culture 2020 campaign illustrations but had no intention of copying them.

LH.M requested 8EyedSpud to meet the illustrator and its business director in charge of the 7-Eleven account to negotiate giving credits, but it rejected the offer.

8EyedSpud took to social media to highlight their concerns, posting image slides about the episode.

                                                                   Slide 2

                                                                Slide 3

The image slides show similarities between certain illustrations. For example, a person walking and talking on a cell phone while carrying a backpack on his shoulder, with the only difference being the color used.

In another example, parents are holding their child in a manner that is the same in both the images, but again, the difference is mostly the color.

8EyedSpud said: “We take pride in each piece of work we put out into the world, and it is truly disappointing and saddening to see it get ripped off.”

It understands that “inspiration and reference images are a big part of client briefs, but there are many opportunities for the line to be drawn when it comes to copying artwork.”

The agency asks companies and other creative agencies to “respect the creativity of the artist” they hire and to not “force a style and mandate” seen somewhere else.

It also had a message for the artist community. It urged them to “do the legwork beforehand” and “go beyond the visuals.”

It asked the illustrators to reflect on “what they're trying to achieve with their campaign” and “provide solutions” that stay true to their style and allow them to be creatively fulfilled.

In the end, it said that they are not seeking any monetary compensation, and nor does it expect the 7-Eleven campaign to be taken down. “We aren't the first artists to have their works copied, and sadly, we definitely won't be the last,” it concluded.

In response to allegations, 7-Eleven said it “respects originality and creativity and this is always our principle of communications” and they have “reached out” to their appointed agency, LH.M Advertising, to “understand the matter.”

Since then, 7-Eleven has removed all posts of this campaign from their social media channels.

Industry experts, however, are split in their views. Creative industry expert Tobias Wilson, former chief growth officer of Media.Monks said: “As an artist, ripping off someone's work should weigh heavily on your soul. At this point, you're not even an artist, you're a photocopier,” and added that this piece of work “doesn't just blur the lines between inspiration and straight-up theft, it jumps way over them, blatantly” and has “zero wiggle room” to ignore the similarities.

Robert Gaxiola, head of creative at Ampverse, said this episode is “another painful example of how referencing an original piece of artwork from a search engine can get a creative agency in a tough spot.”

Fiona Bartholomeusz, managing director of Formul8, an independent creative agency in Singapore, has come out in support of 7-Eleven’s campaign illustrator by saying that there are similarities in art positions and scenarios, but she disagrees with “outright contravening of the agency’s creative copyright.”

Bartholomeusz believes it is possible for one to assume that 7-Eleven’s work is from available images from a free library and asserted that “we see so much line art depicted these days, it’s hard to say what’s original or what’s creatively inspired from something else.”

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Mark Laudi

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