Telenor Karo Mumkin – Rip off of Pepsi Refresh Project

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This is a Guest Post by Zareen Shafaq, who is an MBA Marketing Student with Bachelors in Journalism and Psychology.

On March 15th, 2010, Telenor released a press statement announcing launch of ‘Karo Mumkin’ Campaign on its 5th anniversary. The aim of Telenor’s ‘Karo Mumkin’ campaign in their own words, quote; “Telenor Pakistan has launched the ‘Karo Mumkin’ campaign with the aim to position itself as a leader in innovation” The focus of debate is on Telenor positioning itself as a leader in Innovation but wait, can someone please define innovation. Is copying someone’s idea or renaming another company’s campaign called ‘innovation’?

Telenor Karo Mumkin page: http://www.telenor.com.pk/karomumkin/

Pepsi Refresh Project: http://www.refresheverything.com/

Isn’t innovation coming up with something new, introducing something for the very first time? At least that is what an average dictionary states. So how come Telenor proclaim to position itself as a leader in innovation with their ‘Karo Mumkin’ campaign when their idea itself is not Innovative. Telenor Karo Mumkin is actually Pepsi’s Refresh Project’s rip-off. The idea of both the campaigns is exactly the same – fund an innovative CSR idea of any person or an organization with the help of votes with of course minor modifications.

So how come Telenor, so anxious to become the leader of innovation thought that it could get away with copying Pepsi’s ‘Refresh Project’ campaign. For crying out loud, it is Pepsi we are talking about. Every single person on this planet knows about Pepsi and here Telenor thought if it will launch Pepsi’s campaign in Pakistan under the name ‘Karo Mumkin’ which actually Pepsi launched on the other far end of the world in a country called USA and will not get caught then Telenor was badly mistaken.

Pepsi launched its Refresh Project in USA on January 13th, 2010. As quoted in their press release, “The Pepsi Refresh Project, a groundbreaking effort to foster innovation in social good, will award more than $20 million this year to fund great ideas that refresh the world. The Pepsi Refresh Project is an evolution of the ‘Refresh Everything’ initiative Pepsi launched in 2009, which showed the brand as an optimistic catalyst for idea creation, leading to an ever-refreshing world. Pepsi will fund projects that make a difference in six categories: Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods and Education.”Clearly, they know exactly what they are talking about and it is their genuine, ‘innovative’ idea.

Telenor Karo Mumkin has not only copied the idea of Pepsi’s CSR project but the worst part is that even their webpage looks exactly the same as Pepsi Refresh Project. I mean, Telenor could have used some originality to at least create an innovative webpage for a copied innovative campaign. But then maybe this whole copying ideas and campaigns of other companies is Telenor’s way of being ‘innovative’. There was one quiet a recent incident where Telenor copied the creative theme for their Easy Paisa commercial from HTC commercial. Telenor must realize that it just can’t position itself as a ‘leader innovation’ by copying someone else’ innovative campaigns. Telenor on the contrary, is quite successfully positioning itself as a leader in creative theft!

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23 Comments

  • I disagree with you that teh campaign is a ripoff from Pepsi .. they are using the same logic but the target market is very different.. nothing wrong with it..

    from the website point of view.. again they haven’t copied the pepsi site at all. please elaborate on this if you can but i don’t see any issues with this.

    Encourage those who are doing something. Even if the idea is being implemented somewhere else..

  • Hi Zareen:

    Though I feel your concern and longing for *pure* home-grown innovation (that day will also come, insha Allah!), I agree with Obaid. Telenor may have picked up on the idea from the Pepsi Refresh Project (good catch), but there’s nothing wrong with that. Most good ideas are “ripoffs” (in a good sense)… we call it “inspiration” :)

    What really matters is how well they localize the concept for Pakistan(is). In PK, we have our own unique problems, opportunities, talents, limitations; and it’ll be interesting to see how well Telenor can channel the creative energy of their “tribe” (I’m listening to Seth Godin’s audiobook :) to make this project a real success. They’ve tried something different and are in a great position to lead the way forward; and I truly hope something *awesome* comes out of it.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic!

  • I agree with the author. Let us all get together against Telenor and stop them from doing whatever good that will be done for Pakistan as a result of this (ripped off) campaign… because originality and innovation should be preserved at any cost. YES!

  • @RV: relax :)

    I agree with both Obaid and Mirza that its not a big deal if they are replicating the model and adapting to our needs and constraints, as a matter of fact it’s good if they are following a tried and tested idea.

    how ever the agency behind the web-site could have done a little better in not copying the exact look and feel, and maybe come out with some thing original

  • To the Author of this post Zareen Shafiq: Innovation is just not “coming up with something new, introducing something for the very first time”. That is perhaps the simplest definition I have ever heard. I think you need stop googling definitions of words you really won’t get any decent information like that.
    Innovation can be an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other customers. It can be introducing an object as if it were new or just creating something that others want.
    Now when you take these definitions of the word into account, how can you say that Karo Mumkin is not innovative? It is doing something that has never been done in Pakistan. It is providing users in Pakistan a way of creating change in the country that has never before been available, especially via an online environment. Instead of supporting these ideas I find you blasting them so I am seriously wondering what your problem is. Efforts such Karo Mumkin by Telenor will only help in providing a base for other people and organizations to start carrying out initiatives of their own, which will only be a good thing for Pakistan.
    My advice to you would be to stop taking out unjustified anger at Karo Mumkin and take a long, hard look at yourself and find out what is actually bothering you because what you have written here is a pile of offensive, untruthful and hurtful garbage. Its people like you with your venomous opinions that cause people to stop trying to bring about a positive change because they feel like whenever they try to do something good, people such as yourself will find a way to ruin and discredit it.

  • interesting article and more interesting discussion. IF telenor’s campaign is inspired from any idea then there is no reason to hide. Just accept it that they are doing it for positive change. Secondly, lets see what difference will it bring other than just writing few posts. Otherwise the campaign will be for Telenor publicity and bringing no good to the people.

  • Very good sharing indeed. Usually in Pakistan user’s are just copy pasting news or just modifying it according to their perspective. But this is something, that I think, you have identified first. Different stuff. Keep it up!

  • Suppose you are in an examination hall. You have studied a whole year & now is the time to reap its fruit. But there beside you is sitting a guy who enjoyed beaches the whole year. You are sure today the difference b/w you & him will become clear. But no, he is openly cheating from your notebook, writing exactly what you are writing. Will you like it?

    If the advertisement firm really wanted to copy the idea, it should had given the credit to the firm which had prepared it for Pepsi USA. Like mentioning ‘The actual idea is shamelessly copied from an advertisement for Pepsi’ or somethig like that…

    Until & unless we learn to respect copy rights, patents, intellectual property rights & give due respect to ‘creativity’, we will never be able to retain ‘Bill Gates’, ‘Steve Jobs’ of our society. They will keep going to the West which respects IPR & gives due protection to creativity.

    Very well written Zareen, I really appreciate your investigation. Full marks :)

  • @MisbahYep, just like Pepsi gives credit to Coke for giving them inspiration, on each can and bottle it makes, right? and Gates and Jobs have a whole ‘inspired by Xerox’ screen that pops up on each Windows and OSX copy respectively.
    Long live originality! Long live idealism.

    @Qazi forgot the </sarcasem> – sorry :-(

  • Two wrongs cannot make a Right! Whoever copy who, it shouldn’t allow us to copy without admitting.
    And if eventually you are caught, gracefully admit it.

  • Can someone explain to me what did they copy? the idea? thought? icons? content? layout?

    if ford makes cars and so does toyota.. then who is copying whom? and if volvo was the first one to bring seatbelts than does it make the rest of the companies “copycats”?

  • That’s something interesting…

  • The shirt you wear, the phone you use, the car you drive, the food you eat, the TV programs you watch, the books you read, the sports you play, the internet you use, the blog on which you comment, the events you attend, the restaurants you visit, the universities you study at, the business that employs you … are all INSPIRED by something that came before! Live with it. This is just quite silly. And if in your opinion Telenor is not doing something the way “you think” it should be done… well then, provide constructive feedback. Better yet, show the world how it should be done. And if you can’t do that, then work hard until you’re in a position to make the changes you want to see.

  • Wow, interesting discussion, here are my two cents.
    copying or being inspired by any idea is not a problem, and this Karo Mumkin is a bare simple idea, it might and might not have been inspired by pepsi, they are just asking for ideas which would make sense in our society and promising to take the winning one ahead (By the way due to load shedding i have stopped watching TV, did any body actually win i guess the date was 31st), What i would sit back and see is how they deliver on the promise, spending millions on corporate social responsibility advertisement is one thing doing the walk is another (1 minute add on JEO costs more than 10 million (1 karore) that’s what i have heard) can you setup an actual building for purpose of school or hospital in rural area with 10 million I bet you can?? how many times the add of karo mumkin has been run ?? you do the maths.
    Again this is ok if they spend equal if not more amount on actually executing the idea that wins and deliver some thing.

    Obaid, regarding the website (And i understand this might not be Telenor’s Mistake it might very well be the add agency who took the easy way) The layout is a complete copy, i can spend 10 minutes on changing the CSS of Karo mumkin and it will look exactly like pepsirefresh (no major change just the placement and back ground colors) icons are different that they created.

  • Qazi.. i would like you to spend 10 mins changing the CSS to prove yourself.

    The thing is even if the layout is inspired by pepsi campaign, even if the context is inspired.. it takes a lot more to run a campaign than just a website and text.. they created value by placing ads on tv.. by actually reading the ideas … and hopefully by actually committing to the winning idea..

    i will have issues with the campaign if it didn’t produce the outcome that it pitched.

    It is always easy to say.. ” i can code ____ in X hours” .. its not the code.. its never the code that makes a great company/campaign.. its the hard work behind that company.. behind that product.. behind that campaign that is going to make it or break it.

  • It’s an inspiring campaign – shifts our focus from being ‘victims’ to being ‘change agents’. The idea of ‘making it happen’ is powerful and exactly what Pakistan needs.

    If a genuine Pakistani politician uses words like ‘change’ and ‘hope’, does it mean that he’s copying Obama? Does Obama have a copyright on these campaign slogans?

    Telenor is doing a great job with this campaign. It’s relevant, it’s timely & it’s great!

    Is it copied? Maybe. Does it matter? No.

  • @Obaid, I know a campaign is a lot more than a website, and I also acknowledge that Telenor has done a good job in making the campaign relevant for us, the stories they have dug out and the add itself is very inspiring no doubt about it, i just said that if they had put in some amount of effort on the website front it would have been outstanding.

    @Sha Agree 100% it does not matter where the origin was.

  • IMHO this is taken from an indian company which always talks about new ideas…I have seen many commercials of them on NATGEO…

  • Hmm..
    So since this idea supposedly is a “ripoff”, its no good?

    Just for your knowledge, some more “ripoffs”

    DELL: http://www.ideastorm.com/
    Coca cola: http://www.livepositively.com
    Volkswagen: http://www.thefuntheory.com/

    All of these are sorta similar ideas, basically doing good for rewards of one kind or another or funding or…well you get the gist. CSR really.

    I dont see the harm in it. Unless there’s a hidden agenda against Telenor here, I think its something good.

    Our unfortunate issue is and always has been that we’re always on the lookout of someone “slipping up” in one way or another. If someone does something good for a change, we have to pick at it perhaps to just feel better about ourselves, that we’ve one-upped XYZ.

    Anyhow, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but lets not use platforms we’ve been given to spread it in ways that are unbecoming.

    Looking forward to some innovation from you Zareen. :)

    Cheers!

  • MisbahUddin Abdullah

    I am absolutely amazed by how people are confusing ‘patentable’ ideas with ‘commodities’. Sounds like they never took a business class.

    Preparing a mobile is ok,but will you ever dare copy the design of Apple Iphone. You surely ‘can’ copy it as far as technology is concerned, but will you dare do it? Similarly, dont you dare copy the design of Nike for T shirts. Make as many T shirts as you wish, but never copy Nike.

    Commodities can always be copied, but ‘ideas’ are not…. Unless the advertising agency allows someone to copy…..

    Sorry for the rude words, but I really hate non experts discussing topics that deserve expert’s voice.

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