Unoriginal, But Nicely Executed

One Carmichael Lynch creative to another: “Hey, I know…let’s take the Honda cog spot Wieden did, and make it a print campaign for Harley.”
[via Adverblog]

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Yeah… But nothing is original… The Weiden spot was based on a Dutch art film of some years ago… Can’t remember the name of it… But unlike the Weiden “Homage” the Dutch one went on for an amazing fifteen minutes or so and I think ended up with setting a house on fire!!!.. If anyone remembers the name… Let me know.

  2. I don’t see how this is the same thing as “Cog”, other than it uses parts. Did the parts in “Cog” form a face? Or a picture of the Honda? I don’t remember that part of the commercial.
    If you want to put this kind of extra-fine filter on what is and isn’t borrowed, then label every ad “unoriginal”. Everything – and I mean everything – in some way touches on or comes close to a previous idea. Not just in advertising, but in film, music and art. This print piece owes more to Chuck Close or early 1900s collagists than it does “Cog”.
    By the way, wasn’t it just a short while ago that you were called on the carpet for lifting other people’s content without giving credit? I believe the “Unoriginal, but nicely executed” was exactly how those critics viewed AdPulp.
    I’m a fan, mind you. I just believe your critique was completely unfair. You owe the folks at Carmichael Lynch an apology.

  3. An apology? I insist you take that back at once, tmack 😉

  4. Jesus tmack… It’s an ad for Christs sake. It will never hang on the walls of the Louvre. Get off David’s case… And while you’re at it… Get a life!

  5. George, that’s the sweetest thing anyone’s done for me in ages. Well, not really…but you’re a true gentleman, all the same.
    You know what’s fucked up, though? The rise of advertising museums, where such trivialities do indeed hang on walls. Portland, KC and Milwaukee all have one.

  6. I’m waiting for them to open an ad museum here in Boise. I will be the only exhibit. Well preserved in 100 proof alcohol!

  7. George, George, George. I have a nice, happy life. I simply didn’t think it fair to say the team from Carmichael Lynch had brazenly stolen an idea when there’s no evidence of it. There isn’t any worse insult as a creative, you know. Would you want your work publicly labeled as theivery because it had some small similarity to another ad?
    In many ways, my point was very much your own – it’s only an ad and doesn’t deserve the same extra-fine scrutiny as a painting that hangs in the Louvre.
    Thanks to David for having the ability to accept a critique with a wink and a smile. By the way, thanks for the link to the Henderson bas piece. Geez, what a hellish manager, that woman.

  8. One of my favorite saying is “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”
    I never meant to say the CL team stole anything. Just that they obviously borrowed from Wieden’s Honda ad. In other words, it’s a good ad from a good creative team.

  9. Great, I think we are all pals now… But never forget… As it was once explained to me by a “Very Famous NYC CD” who I cannot name as I still do the odd gig for him… It isn’t a copy… It’s an “Homage.” It’s so much more classy when you say it in French! I am also old enough to remember that famous Ad Grocery Store Owner, Jerry Delafamina, built half his reputation on “Homages” and the other half on stuff that never ran! Still, it paid off, and as we don’t want to do a Van Gogh, I guess that’s what counts… OK, enough bullshit, back to the book. I have to deliver the manuscript by June 1st and I’m running out of brandy!

  10. There’s no correlation between Cog and this campaign.
    If you think there is, defend your case.
    Calling it “obviously borrowed” is absurd.

  11. Defend my case? Hey, anonymous Chiat/Day dude, this is a blog built on opinions, not a court of law.

  12. Hey, Big bad Bozzell Worldwide dude, I would hope that your opinions are backed by some sort of reasons. We would all love to hear your opinion on how Honda Cog and this HD ad are conceptually linked, since it is so obvious.

  13. Since it is obvious, why belabor the point?
    If you fail to see the connection, that’s fine. I don’t need you to see it my way, Klaus. Why that point is not obvious, I’ll probably never know.

  14. Seems like the ad industry is full of borrowers.

  15. The louvre full of originals? If painting an oil of a pasty white person locked center with a few extra flying babies thrown in for good measure is original, I’ll take advertising’s unoriginality anyday.

  16. It’s a question of degrees I think.
    Every idea is somehow related to another. Advertising is a collage of ideas that have been tweaked, reinterpreted, and/or combined with other ideas. Change it enough and it’s suddenly fresh (Clio!). Don’t change it enough and it’s a rip off (thief!). Where’s the line? Who says it’s enough? Well, I believe that’s what we’re doing right here. I’m sure if we have the patience for the debate, we’d be able to come to some sort of concensus (sp?) as to where the line is.