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BBC Sport ad accused of plagiarising Yomi Adegoke's & Elizabeth Uviebinené's Slay In Your Lane

The BBC has found itself accused of plagiarism, with author and journalist Yomi Adegoke claiming the broadcaster has "ripped off" the title of her co-written book, Slay in Your Lane, for use in its Fifa Women's World Cup campaign. 

Last week, BBC Sport unveiled its 'Change the Game' campaign which sought to cement its commitment to women's sport this summer.

At the heart of the push, created by BBC's in-house agency, is a TV ad featuring some of the biggest names in women's football and scored by South London rapper Ms Banks.

However, Adegoke has taken issue with the supporting billboards, one of which uses the name of the bestselling book she co-authored with Elizabeth Uviebinené –  billed as an inspirational guide to life for a generation of black British women – as copy to accompany the image of runner Dina Asher-Smith. 

The title, Slay in Your Lane, is classed as a registered trademark in the UK, making its use prevented in advertising, marketing or promotional services.

A BBC spokesperson told The Drum that the company had sought legal advice before going ahead with the billboards, and were advised that the use of 'Slay in Your Lane' as a tagline was "sufficiently far removed from the goods and services covered by the trademark registration in place."

The Drum understands that the first burst of posters which used the headline will be taken out of circulation from Tuesday (28 March) evening onwards; something that was already planned.

Ahead of the BBC's statement, Adegoke took aim at the team behind the work, which according to a credits list supplied to The Drum at the time of the campaign's launch was spearheaded by executive creative director Laurent Simon, creative directors Tim Jones and James Cross and creative Nathalie Gordon. 

Adegoke said on Twitter: "Imagine being a white woman creating an empowering women's ad campaign for BBC Sport and choosing to rip off the trademarked name of a book specifically aimed at uplifting black women, in an almost identical font."

The writer also said she had been in touch with BBC Sport privately but had received no response as of Tuesday morning.

"Make no mistake: this has happened because [the BBC has] a) arrogantly assumed we wouldn't have it trademarked and b) that we would for some reason be grateful at this plagiarism disguised as a nod," she told her near 13,000 followers. 

She said she had contacted the creatives at the helm of the campaign, but claimed that: "nothing had been done."

"All I can say is black creatives, trademark your shit," she added. "I mean, it won't actually stop white women ripping you off and big organisations stealing your shit, but at least you can drag their clarts to court!!!"

In a now-deleted tweet, one of the creative directors behind the campaign, James Cross, accused Adegoke of "bullying". He added: "Your complaint is being looked at, going after innocent individuals on social media won’t speed it up."

The Drum was also awaiting response from Adegoke at the time of publication. 

The controversy follows on from BrewDog finding itself embroiled in a plagarism storm of its own earlier this month. The craft beer company clashed with former agency Manifest over the launch of the drinks firm's alcohol-free beer Punk AF.

Manifest founder Alex Myers claimed his team created the ‘Punk AF’ brand during its nine-year relationship with BrewDog and was told the idea had been rejected – only to see it resurface.

The Drum explores the issue of intellectual property protection in more detail here.

Featured by The Drum

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