International Advertising Association | Malaysia Chapter

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‘Does Creativity Pay?’ stimulates strong opinions at IAA Ignite Debate Series

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What is an idea worth? Are creators being justly rewarded in order for creativity to thrive? Or are brand owners and those who commission work not adequately rewarding idea generators? Then again, creativity cannot thrive without the financial power of those who back those ideas. Has the time arrived for idea generators to profit from those same ideas that are very successful? How will idea generators compensate clients on ideas that defy the promised success?

‘The Great IP Debate (Does Creativity Pay?)’ was the intriguing theme at the Ignite event presented by the International Advertising Association (Malaysia chapter) and Jaffar & Menon (Advocates & Solicitors) on Thursday 05 October, at the Pavilion Sports Bar & Brassiere, Royal Lake Club Kuala Lumpur.

It was attended by an audience of over 100 people, comprising professionals from various creative circles and the legal fraternity along with clients across multiple industries.

In his opening address, John Chacko, President of IAA-Malaysia, commented on how the IAA has been inundated with requests to hold a follow-up event after the highly engaging ‘Who Owns The Brand? Marketer or Consumer?’ in May 2017, the third in the IAA Ignite Debate-Social Networking Series.
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Taking on the role of Moderator was Professor Harmandar Singh (Founder & Regional CEO of ADOI and Marketing magazines, and Honorary Advisor of IAA-Malaysia), who managed to keep atmosphere, made spicy by the panellists and the audience, under control.

To extract views and points of argument from diverse perspectives, the panel was represented by Johan Ishak (CEO, Media Prima Television Networks), Tony Savarimuthu (CEO, Dentsu LHS), Prashant Kumar (Founder & Senior Partner, Entropia), Janet Toh (Partner, Shearn Delamore & Co), Vasanthi Rasathurai (Partner, Vin Law Co) and John Chacko (President, IAA-Malaysia & Vice-President, Asia Development, IAA-Global).

The debate reached deep into the minds of the audience as salient points were raised.

“If creative agencies wish to lobby to revisit the client-agency contract on the issue of compensation, remember, it works both ways. For instance, for agencies to own the IP related to their creative work, in order to enjoy residual income in every which way, then very likely, the fee paid by the client is going to be very much lower. If creators wish to share in the gain, then, should the creative campaign prove unsuccessful, they must be willing to share in the pain”, was John Chacko’s opening salvo.

“Creative industries cannot operate at bargain basement standards. So what is the worth of an idea and who in the organisational chain decides its worth and value? There is a lot more money spent on the implementation of an idea than the nurturing, development and crafting of the idea. Excellent ideas and those who produce them get devalued in the process chain. Without a well-crafted message with a great creative idea, the amount spent on implementation has little sense”, Tony Savarimuthu rebutted.

“Investment drives creativity and clients create opportunities for creativity. Success for the client equals success for the agency. IP rights are more important to the client than to the agency. Success of an advertisement is not only in the ownership of IP, it is also about successful exploitation”, quipped Janet Toh.

“Creativity is the raw fuel of innovation. Like any raw fuel, it needs to be burnt for energy to burst. Creativity needs to be digested into manifestation that makes economic transactions possible. So, we will need the left part of the brain to work with the right. The former are business people and the latter, artists”, remarked Johan Ishak in his motion.

“Under the Malaysian Copyright Act 1987, in terms of ownership, work made in the course of employment is deemed transferred to the employer, or work commissioned is deemed transferred to the client, unless there is an agreement to the contrary”, Vasanthi Rasathurai said as a matter of fact.

“Creativity is the alchemy that turns mundane ordinary objects into brand assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Visionary entrepreneurs understand the power of dreams. And use creativity to bridge their products with the peoples’ deepest desires. Like all good things in life, good creativity needs to be adequately paid for”, argued Prashant Kumar.

Contracts aside, this conundrum on the worth of an idea will go on just as it has been for hundreds of years.

Interestingly, the audience participation was the most interactive yet in the Ignite series, and this can be attributed to the composition of the audience, as there were, among others, architects, artists, composers, singers, designers, and, of course, lawyers and advertising people.

As for the result, the audience voted the ‘Affirmative’ team as the one that had put forward a more structured and point-laden argument.

At this event, Jaffar & Menon was anchor sponsor, Travee Travels was lucky draw sponsor, Marketing, JDC BrandTruth and Visual Retale were supporters, and, Dentsu Aegis Network is a corporate member.

IAA-Malaysia’s purpose for being is to connect, inform and represent the marketing communications community, with primary focus on knowledge and learning and networking.

IAA, headquartered in New York, was established in 1938 and now has a presence in over 76 countries.

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