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Wieden & Kennedy Cries "Ripoff"

Posted by: David Kiley on November 1, 2008

One of the oldest stories in the ad world is “That guy stole my ad!”

Sometimes when an agency complains that another has ripped off its ad, it has a case. But most times, it is the creative director’s delusion. I mean…I know a prominent creative director who recycled the same script for at least four different clients.

So, it is worth noting here the preposterous claim of Wieden & Kennedy, London’s managing director Neil Christie’ complaint that a Singapore agency ripped off a Wieden ad for Lurpak spread for its Qatar Airlines client. This is purely from the department of “give-me-a-break.”

Mr. Christie writes on the agency’s blog: This isn’t a case of ‘inspired by’, or ‘referring to’ or even ‘hommage’. It’s just bloody copying our ad. Poor show. Anyone out there know anyone at Batey? Can they confirm that Batey did this work and do they know why they so obviously ripped us off?

But you be the judge: Wieden ad is first, then Qatar Airlines.

Reader Comments

Dave Klonke

November 1, 2008 9:03 AM

Now that's a stretch. What's so revolutionary about this Lurpak spot? I'm sure with enough digging, we could find a dozen other spots created before the Lurpak ad that carry a similar tone and photography.

john public

November 1, 2008 8:16 PM

The Qatar ad looks like a pretty obvious rip-off to me. Not a 'preposterous' claim at all by Wiedens at all.

Trevor Tessalone

November 4, 2008 3:45 AM

Thank you for your insightful post on this recent and still developing story. I am glad you covered this event, as it is a topic that deserves more attention than it is currently receiving. The controversy at hand stems from the fact that it seems creativity may soon reach its limit and the thresholds of originality may be stretched beyond any point of return. With this thinking, nothing is original. I feel that the two advertisements portray their own unique artistic expression and though overlap is present, the two ads remain apart. This is not to say that the opinion of Wieden + Kennedy London's Neil Christie should go by the wayside. The fact that he took the time to publicly defend what he felt was an injustice to his agency's creative work shows his dedication to his career as well as his drive to express a need for change in this industry practice. I understand it is not uncommon to use similar tactics as other campaigns yet with the lack of original content being created, Mr. Christie has the right to try to hold on to what may have been his to begin with. You say in your post "most times, it is the creative director's delusion" that his or her work has been "ripped off," yet I feel that without speaking out about such incidents, whether they be true or not, would only lead to worse offenses. Perhaps Mr. Christie is doing only what others are incapable of doing (and might I add he is going to some length to do so, by commenting on blogs to defend his words).

When watching the ads, it is hard not to instantly agree with the claims of copying or even going as far as plagiarizing, due to the similarity in visuals and scripts used. It is apparent why these ads are even being compared but you simply write off Mr. Christie as having a "preposterous claim." There may be little to no way of proving him right for his complaint against the alleged agency, Batey Singapore, but it would only seem appropriate for the agency to at least acknowledge his blog post and respond accordingly. The advertising industry would benefit from a peaceful resolution to this incident but it would make further progress if Batey did, by chance, acknowledge their reuse of Wieden + Kennedy London's material. What are your feelings on the shady practices that currently go on in the advertising world? It will be interesting to see what will result from this but for the meantime I appreciate your time and work on this blog and look forward to your response.


November 4, 2008 6:47 AM

Great blog.

Kellie Schroeder

November 7, 2008 3:57 PM

I watched both ads closely. I don't see blatant plagiarism. I just see a pretty tired concept that follows the status quo.

When you don't push for remarkable, you run the risk that others will find the same route.

Paul Schoe

November 13, 2008 5:42 AM

Although I like both ads, they are indeed nothing new and I am sure we can find many similar ones.

Nevertheless it generates lot's of free advertisement for "Wieden & Kennedy" a company I hadn't heard of before, so from that perspective it is a good idea to cry wolf.


November 24, 2008 3:13 AM

IMHO, two distinct ideas with coincidentally unfortunate shots of baking.

Sean Krizsan

November 27, 2008 4:49 AM

Both ADs naturally have similar scenes as they describe the same process: breadmaking with a different end goal in mind. Sean Krizsan

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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