Taking a stand against plagiarism

For the most part, the events industry is a brilliant sector to work in. The people are friendly, the clients – both brands and event organisers – are interesting, and because there’s so much creative freedom in the sector, no two days are the same. However, like with all industries, unfortunately, a few unsavoury elements sometimes let the whole side down.

At Exhibit Interactive, we’re super collaborative, inclusive, friendly and welcoming, and strive to do an excellent job for everyone we work with. However, we’re also not afraid to stand up for what we believe in and call bad practices out when we see them. And one of our biggest bugbears that is sadly still too prevalent across the industry is plagiarism.

Now, I’m sure we’re all guilty of a little bit of plagiarism at some point in our working lives. It might be reusing web content without attributing the source, using an existing design or image as ‘inspiration’ for your own, or sharing someone else’s meme on social media without giving credit. These things go on every day, often undetected, and have minimal impact on the brands or businesses concerned.

However, when plagiarism goes too far, and people blatantly rip off other people’s ideas and creativity, it really gets our goat. Here, we take a closer look at how widespread plagiarism is in the events world, and what can be done to tackle it.

What is plagiarism, and why is it wrong?

First things first, let’s clarify what we’re talking about. While there’s no single, precise definition of plagiarism, it generally refers to using someone else’s work without giving them credit. This can be done by copying their work without recognition or attribution, or taking their ideas and passing them off as your own. For example, copying another business’s blog, word for word, and posting it on your own website without giving them credit would be considered plagiarism. So, too, would recreating an image or logo you’ve seen elsewhere, so yours looks almost the same.

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional; if caught, it can be embarrassing, unethical, and even illegal. It can also hurt your reputation and future opportunities. It’s usually more common in academia, education and the media, but plagiarism often rears its ugly head in the creative industries, including events.

That’s what we’re calling out here.

When it comes to events, taking one agency’s stand design and giving it to another agency to build, usually because they’re cheaper, is a form of plagiarism. If you’ve invested passion, creative thought and hard work into a project that doesn’t go ahead, seeing your ideas brought to life at an event by somebody else can be deflating.

Trust us, we’ve been there.      

Like with many creative endeavours, coming up with detailed designs for an exhibition stand or developing an experiential concept for an event – like the one we did for Specsavers, below – is an art form. At the very least, the artist deserves respect, right?

How widespread is plagiarism in the events industry?  

Like we said earlier, the events industry is a great space to work in. For the most part, everyone tries to do their best and get along with each other. Unfortunately, there are a few instances where plagiarism comes to the fore, and it’s down to the industry as a whole to tackle it.

After all, plagiarism can affect anyone at any time, so taking steps to stamp it out is in the industry’s best interests. 

But how widespread is the problem?

And what can be done about it?

Here are a few examples of how plagiarism can, and has, cropped up in the events industry.

Copying designs

Perhaps the most obvious form of plagiarism in the events industry concerns copying designs. This can take many forms.

A designer – or a client – might see a rival stand they like the look of at an event or exhibition and steal the idea wholesale, from the layout and furniture or any interactive elements to the general design and ‘look and feel’ of the stand. Similarly, an event organiser might go to another event, see how it’s organised or laid out, and try to do the same with their own event.

While it’s one thing to use another’s designs or ideas for inspiration, copying them wholesale isn’t on and needs calling out for what it is – blatant plagiarism. Another example of copying designs – and we speak from experience here – is where a client or brand goes to one agency to create their event stand, then takes the finished plans to another agency or stand builder to make and install the stand. There are a couple of drawbacks to this.

Firstly, without the technical input of the creative designer at every stage of the process, it can be difficult for another agency to realise their vision. And secondly, by taking an agency’s designs elsewhere, there are no guarantees the quality of the end product will be the same.

Like with all things in life, you get what you pay for.

Copying designs remains a problem in the industry and is one of the main reasons why we charge for design work. Yes, it’s to protect ourselves and the value of our time, skills and expertise, but it also helps preserve the integrity and quality of the finished design and build on behalf of the client.

For example, take a look at the recent bespoke stand we designed and built for Specsavers below. We took care of everything, from the initial concept to the finished build. We doubt that any other agency, even with detailed drawings of the stand, could execute it with the same quality, creativity and flair. So, why run the risk? 

Ripping off content

Content plagiarism isn’t just limited to blogging and social media. It can be pretty widespread in the events industry too. Video content, images, presentations and other visual content is easy to copy and often makes its way onto rival stands or exhibition spaces. So, too, do interactive elements like games, AR or VR experiences, quizzes or competitions, and freebies or giveaways. We’ve seen it many times. 

There’s a fine balance here, because the technology and equipment that makes these things possible are exactly the same for everyone. It’s all about how creative and original you are with that technology to deliver something that’s innovative and unique.   

This is where working with a creative, collaborative events partner like Exhibit Interactive can help. We can help you use interactive elements and technologies in new, exciting, inspiring ways to connect with and engage your visitors.

Stealing ideas

When it comes to protecting ideas, the lines get a little blurred. That’s because the events space, like any creative industry, is brimming with ideas and innovation, and it can be difficult to come up with something truly unique and original.

Many good ideas have been done before, so the challenge often lies in taking an existing concept and giving it a fresh twist. But, there’s a fine balance between taking inspiration from something you’ve seen and giving it a different spin, and just copying an idea and dressing it up in your logo and brand colours.

The former takes a lot of creative thought and innovation, while the latter is a lazier approach, not to mention disrespectful to the person with the original idea. 

Again, any creative events agency worth their salt wouldn’t dream of ripping off someone else’s ideas, so pick your events partner wisely if you want to avoid any comeback or accusations of plagiarism against your brand.

How can Exhibit Interactive help?

At Exhibit Interactive, we’re all about creativity, originality and individuality. Whether you’re an event organiser, brand or exhibitor, we can help you bring your next events presence to life with a unique, original, plagiarism-free approach.

With many years’ experience in the events and exhibitions industry, we help our clients rethink their relationship with their audiences and create innovative solutions that resonate and deliver memorable brand experiences.

Our services include interactive and sustainable custom-build and system exhibition stands, shell scheme alternatives, AV content & filming. By taking a design-led approach to every project we work on, we can guarantee our event solutions make a visual impact while helping our clients achieve their objectives.

To find out more about how we can help you, give us a call today.