When I was younger (and a dumbass) I saw commercials as though they were jokes; quick, 30-second anecdotes, each with a set up and punchline. Unless you’d taped what was on TV you never saw the same commercials again.
The Internet changed all that, and exists with infinite capacity. It never forgets.
Unfortunately for the advertising industry this means that if ad men want to rip off another commercial we can easily find it, and that is exactly what I am going to do with my post today.
Note: It is quite possible that the “original material” I’m referencing is actually imitating something else, but this is what I know, and further enlightenment is never unwelcome.
With that disclaimer out of the way let’s get started with three brazen examples:
Nissan’s “Landing Gear” is a commercial from 2012, and a terrible one at that. Not because it dicks around with physics to Fast & Furious-like levels, but it is a blatant rip off of someone else’s work, a short viral film called 405 from 12 years earlier:
Despite the 320×240 frame size, the digital effects seem a lot more impressive in 405 for its time.
The elements that unite these two videos; Truck and Terribly Piloted Airplane might be too specific, so let’s switch
How about a commercial with Two Brothers where One Prattles off a List of X From Scene To Scene?
Smuckers – “Favorites” (2011-2012)
Daniel Tosh’s younger brother Those Tim and Richard Smucker Brothers sure are going to grow up and ruin ‘murica.
Peeps – “Brothers” (2013)
Right down to the shot of the double twin beds, and one of them trying to go to fuck to sleep:
I enjoyed the rattling off of lists more when Bubba Blue did it:
The last example is a theme that has been done to death and I really wish there was some sort of repercussions that came from the many variants of this concept:
Old Spice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)
Oh Isaiah Mustafa, I hope you made enough $$ for the rest of your life off this commercial.
The Copy Cat Offenders come in many different flavors but all are united by the Quick-Witted, Alpha Male Unapologetically Leaning on the Fourth Wall, as Quirky & Wondrous Things Happen All Around Him:
Dr. Pepper 10 – “Action Man” (2011)
Edge Shave Gel – “Ready Room” (2011)
Dairy Queen – “RiDQulous Shaving Bunnies” (2012)
And yes if you were wondering, that is the same guy as the Edge commercial, John Behlmann.
Hotels.com – “Captain Obvious” (2013)
I understand that when a concept works people will want to use it as a template, but no one has really deviated from this concept and thought outside the box in a meaningful provocative way. It’s time fellas. You can’t make another one of these until the current generation has forgotten what Old Spice did.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but there is a reason why Work Cited pages exist — to give credit where it is due. Commercials don’t work like that, which makes it all the more frustrating when advertisers try to sneak under the radar and try to take credit for someone else’s idea.
Hopefully we won’t need to do another round of these “Copy Cat Callouts,” but consider this a warning shot across your bow, Advertising Creatives. We all know how incredibly busy your day is with all of the hookers and drinking, but if your next coke-fueled Great Idea features Creepy Talking and/or Dancing Babies, then I have some bad news for you.