A few weeks ago I was notified of a recent campaign for WWF by Ogilvy Paris that showed some strong, almost undeniably close, similarities to a student campaign myself and Alexis Christodoulou did in 2009. I placed the comparison for the world to see right here on this blog and was amazed at how quickly it spread. A lot of people had a lot to say and most of the feedback was very much in the view of, “This type of thing happens in advertising all the time, but THIS is just too close to be coincidence”.
Well I can tell you that I was contacted by Ogilvy Paris a week or so after the post and they denied any copying happened. But that’s no surprise. They said they feel for us in many ways but this is truly a coincidence. They just so happened to come up with a similar creative concept, 2 out of 3 similar executions at similar angles and almost the exact same copy line as our campaign.
During the discussions with them they seemed very apprehensive and were actually on the verge of pulling the entire campaign, which I found quite interesting because I know very similar ideas exist but very rarely does the agency pull an entire campaign because it’s similar to another.
So we had a lawyer draw up a letter to try get things moving. Basically we gave them 2 options. Either add our credentials in some way to the campaign or pull it from all media, which ultimately I was against because the campaign was for a good cause. They came back not sharing our views, which again was kind of expected from a massive ad agency that can’t afford to be caught in this mess and has the power to do so.
They did mention the following in their email, which I found quite amusing:
"Our work is indeed based on the same idea as the one of your client. But you will agree, above all, that it is not very original to use animals in their environment to talk over the disappearance of animals." And I thought they prized themselves on originality.
"Moreover, their materializations, in their treatment and their execution, are different. Your client’s work is handled by way of illustration while our creation is based on photographic and CGI treatment." Where does one draw the line?
"As part of our contractual obligations, we used to do anteriority research before the launch of our creations. Despite all the research we have done during the production of this campaign, we were unable to access to your client’s work. Since we could not have known this work, we could not make counterfeit of it." Our image of our campaign comes up on Google image search’s first page when looking for a SASSI (Part of WWF) campaign (Yes I know this may be because I live in SA and it’s my work - but it’s there).
So did they copy? Who knows. But now I’m over it.