Thirsting For Originality

I had barely finished writing my new Talent Zoo column about the uncanny similarities between Coke’s Super Bowl spot and an Israeli Yotvata milk spot when another mini-furor erupted over some new Nationwide spots that remind people of the Dos Equis campaign.
So what’s going on here? Is it just too easy to rip-off ideas, or too easy for people to spot copycats on the Internet? What’s the difference between being inspired by an idea and copying it? Who really gets harmed when this happens? Is this another thing for ad creatives to needlessly obsess over?

Frankly, most clients don’t care about whether an ad contains some sort of truly original concept. They’re not the ones with an encyclopedic knowledge of what ran in CA years ago or what’s running in another country. They’ve got their own problems, like sales, market share, stock prices and their competition to worry about. Clients want answers to their marketing issues, period. As long as they don’t get sued, most won’t give a crap where the inspiration for an idea came from.
There will be more instances like Coke/Yotvata in the future, not less. Timelines for producing ads are getting shorter, leaving less time for creatives to dive deeper conceptually. More and more advertising people find inspiration by searching Google images and other sites rather than their own surroundings and environment. And unless you cut yourself off from the Internet and other media, we’re simply being exposed to more and more ads. Produced ads with similar ideas are out there–and if you’re that determined to find them, you will.

Read the rest of my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the home page tomorrow.

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About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.

  • http://godsofadvertising.wordpress.com Steffan Postaer

    I went through all this when I wrote about the “Smiles” campaign for American Express. It was totally copied from an artist’s work as well as earlier commercials. Maybe there is nothing new since the Romans…

  • http://theescapepod.wordpress.com/ vinny warren

    as i previously commented here, i’m pretty sure nobody at wieden ripped off what is a completely generic idea to the beverage category. “I love x beverage so much i sleepwalk to fridge for it”. feels very 1995 to me.