Cummins & Partners apologises to AFL for plagiarising Multicultural Round campaign

Cummins & Partners has apologised to the AFL after the sporting code had to concede that its new multicultural round campaign was too similar to the work of an Adelaide-based designer Tyson Beck.

AFL multicultural round

Cummins & Partner’s design for the AFL Multicultural Round

LeBron James - Face of Cleveland - Artwork by Tyson Beck

LeBron James – Face of Cleveland – Artwork by Tyson Beck

Chris Jeffares, Cummins & Partners CEO, told Mumbrella the agency is “working very closely” with the AFL after the Herald Sun revealed the multicultural round campaign bore a striking similarity to a design of NBA star LeBron James created by Beck.

“As soon as we found out what happened we contacted the artist and apologised. He’s been very complimentary about the process and we’re compensating him,” Jeffares said.

“He’s also acknowledged that inspiration comes from multiple sources and indeed this particular print style montage occurs in many forms around the world and has done so for many years. However, in developing our mood bulletin reference we acknowledge this was way too close a representation.”

When pressed on how the mistake occurred, Jeffares would only say: “it was a process oversight which we are addressing immediately.”

Jeffares declined to comment further on how Beck is being compensated, if the agency has been reprimanded by the AFL, if any staff have been disciplined and how the agency is reviewing its processes to ensure the mistake is not repeated in the future.

Beck, the owner and founder of worldwide sports design collective Posterizes, counts amongst his clients the NRL, Major League Baseball and the NBA, of which the plagiarised work was created for.

The image created by Cummins & Partners, to promote the AFL multicultural round, has been used on the AFL’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and on the AFL website.

Beck told Mumbrella the AFL has handled the process “perfectly well” and he is on “good terms” with them.

“They were very upfront and honest about the whole situation and dove into how this occurred from start to finish. Both the AFL and Cummins & Partners who worked on the creative felt absolutely embarrassed and sincerely sorry,” Beck said.

“In short, the AFL and Cummins & Partners were both not surprised when I tweeted and emailed the AFL about their campaign artwork being plagiarised as throughout the creative process I was told there were meetings held about it within the AFL, where someone mentioned it looked like a rip off of my ‘Lebron James Artwork’.

“I spoke with the GM of Media at the AFL and from that stage he is unsure why the campaign creative went ahead as the AFL knew about the issue and the Agency created the whole campaign around my work, it was no form of inspiration and just a form of replication.

“I’m yet to hear from the brand manager of the AFL who is more than likely the person who approved this, but Peter Campbell (GM of Media) was very sympathetic and felt embarrassed that it got the green light.

“It’s disappointing to hear a creative agency completely plagiarising my work but at the same time it’s good to hear they owned up to their mistakes and didn’t try to pass it on as a coincidence or any form of inspiration.”

Beck said he has declined to name a figure in terms of compensation but rather has “left it to them to offer something for what has happened”.

While the Herald Sun has said Beck has claimed he was out of pocket $10k Beck told Mumbrella he had been asked how much an agency would potentially have charged for a creative campaign like the AFL Multicultural Round work.

“I simply stated that anywhere from $3,000 – $10,000 would be a ball park figure from my knowledge,” he said.

“It is disappointing that the agency will still profit from this though, the best resolution would be for the AFL to cancel payment for the campaign, they should not be charged by the agency.”

AFL spokesman Patrick Keane told the Herald Sun the AFL has apologised to Beck and said no in-house staff from its marketing department had been involved in the work.

“It was an outside agency who have apologised to the AFL and more importantly to the graphic artist,’’ he told the Herald Sun.

“It should not have occurred. The material produced for the AFL by the outside agency is too close to this person’s original work.”

The AFL has been approached for comment.

Miranda Ward 


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