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Why Slay in Your Lane’s Yomi Adegoke has accused BBC Sport of plagiarism

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
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ElizabethUviebenene and Yomi Adegoke of Slay in Your Lane

“Imagine them putting ‘Just Do It’ underneath.”

Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene wrote Slay in Your Lane to empower and inspire black women in their careers.

Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible was published in 2018, and there are two more titles planned in the series. The book, which offers advice and guidance specifically geared towards black women, has sold almost 15,000 copies in hardback, according to The Bookseller.

As well as giving advice on careers, education, jobs and more, Slay in Your Lane also discusses microaggressions — seemingly small slights that people from minorities or underrepresented groups experience.

So Adegoke was unpleasantly surprised to see billboards for a BBC campaign which used the book’s title as their slogan.

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Adegoke has accused the BBC of plagiarism and trademark violations, after billboards with Slay in Your Lane written over an image of runner Dina Asher-Smith were created as part of BBC Sport’s #ChangeTheGame campaign, which aims to highlight the amount of live women’s sport the network is showing this summer.

In a Twitter thread, Adegoke said: “Imagine being a white woman creating an ‘eMpOwErInG WoMeNs’ ad campaign for @BBCSport, and choosing to rip off the *TRADEMARKED* name of a book specifically aimed at uplifting black women.”

Blake Friedmann Literary TV & Film Agency, which represents Adegoke and Uviebinene, registered Slay in Your Lane as a trademark on July 22, 2018. According to the Intellectual Property Office, the phrase cannot be used on a series of goods and products, and can also not be used for advertising.

While waiting for a response from the BBC, Adegoke wrote on Twitter: “Our trademark covers everything, including advertising. You’d think there would be some urgency as it’s a legal matter but they are chilling! Imagine them putting ‘Just Do It’ underneath. And fronting it with a black British woman, knowing the content of our book, I —”

The campaign was made by BBC Creative, the BBC’s in-house creative agency.

In response to Adegoke’s assertions, a spokesperson for the BBC said: “The BBC sought legal advice before going ahead and were advised that the use of the headline “Slay in Your Lane” in our Women in Sport #ChangeTheGame marketing campaign was sufficiently far removed from the goods and services covered by the trademark registration in place.”

The BBC said it was always planned that the billboards featuring the slogan would come down on May 28.

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The BBC might have sought legal advice, but there’s no doubting that it was influenced by Adegoke and Uviebinene’s book — their admittance that they did seek legal advice shows they knew about the title, and that the slogan was used in conjunction with an image of a black woman seems to point towards knowledge of Adegoke and Uviebinene’s mission to empower black women.

In an interview with BBC News, Adegoke said the poster seemed designed to  “piggyback off our tiny brand’s movement”. She added: “To legitimatise the usage of that slogan they intentionally used a black British woman to front it,” she said.

As Adegoke said in her Twitter thread, the BBC would never have decided to use Nike’s famous Just Do It slogan. That it decided to use a slogan created, made famous and legally protected by two black women is diappointing. 

Image: Getty / supplied by publisher

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Sarah Shaffi

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