Issa PR was one of several agencies pitching for Getir’s London launch this year, which was eventually won by MSL in May.
Getir, based in Turkey, provides a grocery delivery service via an app. Backed by former Google board member Michael Moritz, it has been expanding its operations into the UK and Europe after growing successfully in Turkey since 2015.
The brand appointed Neverland to its UK creative account last week.
Issa PR founder and chief executive Viet N’Guyen claims that, following a pitch in January, Getir began using ideas similar to some the agency had presented with bike box advertising. In the following months, the agency noticed other outdoor advertising that N’Guyen claims is similar to Issa PR’s ideas, including activations at bus stops, Waterloo, taxi guerilla stunts and Piccadilly (see images below).
Getir initially responded to N’Guyen’s allegations of IP theft through a legal letter in early May that claimed the allegations were “baseless”.
The letter added: “We expressly deny that Getir has in any manner copied, imitated, reproduced any IP and we reject that any loss suffered by you was caused by us, for the reason that we have found your claims and allegations to be baseless and without any merit.”
A Getir spokesperson later told PR Week the business has used similar outdoor advertising tactics in Turkey (pictured above) for several years.
“Getir has successfully grown since our launch in 2015 through many marketing ideas and channels such as outdoor advertising and branding on our bikes, couriers and bags,” the spokesperson added.
“To suggest such ideas carry IP value is baseless and without merit. At Getir, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of business ethics. This applies to how we compete, how we do our work and how we treat our stakeholders as well as business partners.”
N’Guyen told PR Week that while she accepted outdoor advertising ideas theft is difficult to prove, she claimed Getir had initially told her bike box advertising was too “dangerous” and “distracting” before activating bike box advertising in London weeks later.
She said that an integral part of Issa PR’s pitch and strategy was clarifying Getir’s name, as the etymology is foreign to British audiences; differentiating Getir from food delivery brands such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo; and offering a time promise for the service (delivery in minutes) to drive downloads.
“We reviewed all of their previous marketing – every agency should as part of their due diligence – and they have never used a time promise or explanation of their services as groceries on any bike boxes in Turkey,” N’Guyen claimed.
“This is a key differentiator in a foreign market. We also went through all of their social media in Turkish from 2015 and saw they have never used concepts like 'Forgot XX [product]' once in six years.”
Although Getir strongly maintains it did not copy Issa PR’s work, idea theft has been recognised as an industry issue concerning PR agency leaders for many years. In a 2019 PRCA study, 46% of agency bosses reported intellectual property rights infringement in the past year. In May of that year Manifest founder and chief executive Alex Myers claimed brewer BrewDog had stolen IP for its "Punk AF" non-alcoholic beer concept.
N’Guyen said the industry had to be vigilant to protect the value of its ideas when presenting to prospective clients.
"Creative ideas are the foundation of our industry and the work we do. Agencies must defend their IP and clients should treat this creative output in a fair and transparent way,” she added.