As Pakistanis gear up to celebrate the Independence Day this 14th August, many brands are getting in on the day’s festivities as well by offering special discounts and promotions for their customers.
McDonald’s, a leading global fast-food chain, has also rolled out its Azadi deals. Only this time, they may have gotten themselves into a pickle with the choice of artwork used for its promotional campaigns.
The Azadi Collectibles
McDonald’s recently launched their Azadi deal where they used truck art and other aesthetically pleasing design elements, that are unique to Pakistani culture, as part of their packaging.
You can take a look at their promotion here:
A short while after McDonald’s promotion went live, a Pakistani artist came forward with allegations that one of his designs was being used without permission by the multinational brand.
The artist, Kumail Ali Shareef, took his concerns public over social media, accusing the team behind McDonald’s Azadi promotion of ripping off one of his designs for their packaging.
This is the design that Kumail says belongs to him:
And this is how the same design has been modified as part of McDonald’s Independence Day promotion:
#McDonalds #pakistan is supporting #plagiarism. They are using my art work in their commercial #design, ads, billboards and even product packaging. They are responsible for #arttheft and have not replied to any of my messages. #designtheft #truckart #McDonalds #plagiarism pic.twitter.com/qQcFCY8WHz
— Kumail Ali shareef (@kumail_shareef) August 7, 2018
As you can see from these pictures below, these designs are everywhere:
Here’s where things get more complicated. As his posts went viral over social media, Kumail said that he was contacted by the advertising agency who did the campaign for McDonalds Pakistan. The agency claimed that the art that Kumail says is his, is actually from another artist from India.
Kumail has provided people with his Behance profile, where his work was uploaded in 2014. You can check it here.
In light of these developments, it appears more likely that Kumail’s work was being repurposed without his express permission by the agency. In fact, if we go by the agency’s word that an unnamed Indian artist made it, the onus falls on them to provide all the proof.
Social Media Reactions
The story has attracted a lot of attention over social media, with many people chiming in:
Send them a legal notice.
— Mehak Lakhani (@MehakLakhani_) August 8, 2018
Have you considered getting in touch with the global team?
— SarahDrama (@SarahDawood) August 9, 2018
— what (@nakedbeard) August 9, 2018
However, while some people are suggesting to sue the company, others are pointing out that there is nothing ‘original’ about truck art designs.
Tbf, isn’t your artwork ‘borrowing’ themes prevalent in real truck art too? Or did you make these specific pieces? https://t.co/Rui9lCvlg9
— Hasan Zaidi (@hyzaidi) August 9, 2018
truck art bhai ne copyright karwa lia kya? he must sue mcdonald for it :p
— Shiraz Hassan (@ShirazHassan) August 9, 2018
Exactly what I've been saying… Shor thoda zyada hai. Did he work with the said agency and presented his designs? He's only screaming Exhibit A vs Exhibit B.
— Riz (@rizwanfarooq) August 9, 2018
What are your thoughts on the controversy? Do you feel that truck art falls in the public domain? Or that Kumail is within his rights to say that his work has been plagiarized? Sound off in the comments below.