Originality, the Internet, Advertising, and Birds

What came first, the chicken or the chicken?

Recently, Ben Kay’s blog shared this Mercedes Ad by Jung von Matt. I think it’s a great ad – entertaining, unusual and simple. But it certainly is not original…

This ad for FujiFilm was published in February 2013 by Ogilvy & Mather Germany. Perhaps a more relevant idea for a camera brand, however it is not nearly as well executed as Mercedes. But wait…

Something similar was done by Weebl’s stuff, a youtube channel with over 500,000 subscribers, in August 2011. There’s more…

Back in 2008, Smarter Everyday, another youtube channel with over a million subscribers, shared this video:

What can we make of this?

1. Smarter Everyday

Certainly, if you’ve ever held a chicken, you will have noticed that their heads remain remarkably stationery. We can’t blame Smarter Everyday for sharing this online. Can we?

2. Weebl’s stuff

Then there’s ‘Rotate Your Owl’ by Weebl’s stuff. Different bird. Backing track. Comedy. This can’t be considered plagiarism, surely?

3. FujiFilm

Next we have FujiFilm, and this is where things aren’t as clear cut. Did Ogilvy & Mather ‘borrow’ this idea from the previous two? Surprisingly, I found a few comments from Ben Kay’s blog which discussed the argument rather nicely.

(This first comment is about the latest Mercedes ad, but also applies to Fuji Film)

“Really sweet ad. The general public will love it. But the internet is a cruel mistress isn’t she. She gives you all these lovely little gifts to make your ads amazing – obscure films, amazing techniques – and it gives you them in a form that makes it easy to sell to the idiots. And then, once you’ve made your really sweet ad it tells everyone that you’re a thieving bastard. And the idiots tut.” – nobby

It’s true that the Internet is an amazing source of cultural product from which you can ‘borrow’ for creative ideas. Should people really be blamed for taking an idea from the public? Besides, hasn’t that’s what alway’s happened?

“I yearn for the days when a talentless cokehead could steal an artist’s work, make an ad, and then accept praise and awards for being brilliant and gifted – and nobody would ever know.” – anonymouse

4. Mercedes

We end where we begun. From one perspective, Jung von Matt has plagiarised Ogilvy & Mather’s work. It is possible they hadn’t seen the O&M ad, however, that does seem unlikely. But on the other hand, the Jung von Matt version is definitely a better execution. This comment sums it up nicely.

“Watched the Merc spot. Didn’t know that chickens heads worked like that. Made me smile – and like Merc a bit more than before (and thought it was an interesting departure for a brand that can be a bit po-faced).

Never seen the Fuji spot. And never would have done outside this blog. Even then, it’s not as interesting or as neatly shot as the Merc ad.

Thing is. If I was a punter who’d seen the Merc spot – unless I’d seen the Fuji ad two months earlier …  would I care that someone, somewhere had used chickens in a similar way before? No. Because I wouldn’t know.

 This comment is not to disregard any argument about creative originality. It’s simply about the effectiveness of the ad.” – Mister Gash

What are your thoughts? Is it plagiarism? Does it matter?