SINGAPORE - The winning team of a competition for a content creation and marketing course has been disqualified, and the $7,000 grant it won was also revoked.
This is because the team failed to obtain official permission in its winning pitch video.
The team of 10 students and professionals, which called itself Magnificent 7, pitched the idea of a video series showcasing the passions of Singaporeans for a contest under the free Creator Collective course.
The course was organised by Brand New Media and the Info-communications Media Development Authority, and supported by Singapore Press Holdings and the Asia Content Marketing Association.
The disqualification of the team was announced by Brand New Media on Wednesday (May 2).
For the pitch, the team planned to make a video featuring Ms Cara Nicole Neo, a mermaid performer.
According to a Facebook post by Ms Neo on Monday, Magnificent 7 approached her and she agreed to send over underwater footage of herself as a sample for what filming underwater with her would look like.
Upon finding out that the video would be part of a contest and not an official pitch, Ms Neo told Magnificent 7 that she would not be able to commit to the project.
However, the team decided to go ahead with the video, using the footage Ms Neo had provided and hiring an actress to stand in as Ms Neo for the interview component of the video.
The pitch won the contest and the video was uploaded on April 30 as part of a showcase of content produced at the course.
The $7,000 grant Magnificent 7 won was for the team to create an actual content solution to pitch to a brand of the team's choice.
Ms Neo, upon discovering what had happened, called for an apology from the team and Brand New Media in her Facebook post on Monday.
She said, among other things, that her intellectual property had been used without her permission and that she had been impersonated.
The team and Brand New Media officially apologised to Ms Neo in a statement on Wednesday.
Brand New Media added in the statement that a new winner would be decided on in the coming days, and offered to create a video for Ms Neo, to which she would own the full rights, to compensate her for the oversight on its end.
Ms Neo said in a Facebook post on Thursday that she has accepted Magnificent 7's apology, but declined the offer for a video to be made by Brand New Media.
A Brand New Media representative said that it takes a strict stance against intellectual property infringement, and that talent waivers and rights to footage and locations were covered in a module during the Creator Collective course.
"However, we will take extra precautions in the next course to ensure participants show proof that they have followed these instructions," the representative said.