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Good to see Grey London continue the fine tradition of originality in ads

Update: In what I’d describe as “a result”, Grey London’s MD has been in touch with Meg – see her blog for details!

Advertising. It’s all about creativity, originality, possibly bean bags, yeah?

So let’s compare this image, taken by my chum Meg Pickard in 2006, to this scene from Grey London‘s new ad for Horlicks:

Grey Holicks ad

Oh dear.

Sure, everyone creative takes inspiration from other people’s work. I know I do, all the time. But Grey could have taken the idea of a book in front of a face and done something interesting and creative with it. Instead, they did a shot-perfect copy of the entire thing, even down to the on-a-train location.

And yes, it’s only a single, tiny scene in the ad. But given that the shot is pretty much the only one in the entire thing which has any spark or originality (ha!) about it, it’s the one thing that lifts the ad above yet another mundane “lots of shots of kettles from odd angles” 30 second clip. It’s slap-bang in the middle of the ad, which means it’s the conceit around which the whole thing turns.

Pinching ideas isn’t a bad thing per-se. But if the only truly original element in your work is a shot-perfect recreation of something you found on Flickr, you ought to take a serious look at yourself and consider a career which doesn’t depend on creativity.

UPDATE: Meg’s response is on her blog.

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  • http://www.talldan.com Dan

    It’s crazy, and something should be done about the number of blatant rip offs, not just visually but musically too.

    Two other far worse rip-offs that spring to mind in the last few years.

    Kozyndan series of bunny paintings:
    Sony Bravia rip-off advert

    ‘The way things go’ by Peter Fischli and David Weiss and the Honda ‘chain-reaction’ advert

    The appalling thing is that the adverts are so much more prominent, so usually the credit for creating them goes to entirely the wrong place. Fortunately the latter one was shown up to be a rip-off.

  • Ian Betteridge

    I’d actually argue that this case is worse than either of those. The Bravia ad at least bought in the “play-doh” element, even if the visual style is the same. The Honda ad at least had the fact that the “bits” were all parts of the car. So while they were obviously inspired by the art works, they at least added their own twist to them.

    In this case, though, they’ve changed the hair colour to blonde from black… and that’s it.

  • http://www.brewdigital.com Chris Reed

    Wow! It’s a fine line between homage and theft…

  • http://www.talldan.com Dan

    I’d politefuly disagree, as the other clips involve theft of the concept for the entire ad, as opposed to a 1 second snippet – these are also ads that were put forward for awards – i.e. adulation from peers, so it’s as though there are a number of ridiculous delusions involved:

    The Honda team owned up to theft and settled, so I don’t think it’s possible to claim that there was enough of a twist applied to make it a particularly different interpretation.

    Kozyndan commented on how the ad agency responsible for the bravia ad requested examples of their work a couple of years prior to ad for a possible collaboration. It seems as though it’s a pretty clear-cut case of theft.

  • Ian Betteridge

    True Dan – and thanks for the background.

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