Inspiration – or plagiarism?

It’s tough to get inspired sometimes. Coming up with fresh new ideas is difficult enough when you’re a simple-minded unpaid blogger like me. If you work in advertising, and creativity on demand is an important part of the job, then the pressure to be a bright spark of inventiveness must be unreal.

Fortunately, there’s an answer. YouTube has all manner of neat short films, sketches and animations from which the discerning ad executive can take inspiration. Or just shamelessly rip off. Take the T-Mobile ads that use the well-known JK wedding entrance dance. The re-emergence of the Haribo Starmix ads that replicate Will Ferrell’s Good Cop, Baby Cop. And so on. There are plenty of other examples here (be advised, extremely robust use of the vernacular.)

The latest example in this distressing trend involves British beatboxer Beardyman, He was approached by McVities after they saw this brilliant clip to help them advertise their new Medley bars. He didn’t like the script, and refused. McVities went ahead anyway, hiring other actors to fill in the role, and then claiming that they didn’t have to pay anything as they had the idea before they saw the clip. Classy, huh?

Sadly, there’s no sign of this behaviour going away. If advertisers are going to copy the artists they find on YouTube, the very least they can do is compensate them appropriately and make sure they get recognition for the part they played. Of course, that would then mean that advertising creatives would have to admit that they’re not quite as clever as they make out, and that the huge sums they earn might not be so justified if it turned out that their best ideas were cribbed wholesale from other people.

It was ever thus. Creatives will cobble together mood tapes from all kinds of different sources, from YouTube to Hollywood blockbusters, mixing and matching until they find something fresh. That’s a viable part of the creative process. Everything is influenced by everything else. But these guys seem to have taken Picasso’s quote “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal”, and treated it as both a manifesto and standard operating procedure.

And that’s exemplified by this very post, which has been at the very least “influenced” by sketch comedian Bec Hill’s post on the Beardyman story a few days ago. I urge you all to read it in full, and check out her brilliant tampon ad concept. I’m as guilty as anyone of using other people’s work to bolster my own. I’ll cheerfully admit to it and put up a link to the original source. That’s plain good manners nowadays. It’s just a shame that professionals who really should know better don’t feel the same way.

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Published by

Rob

Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

One thought on “Inspiration – or plagiarism?”

  1. Yes, plagiarism is the literary devil laughing at us. If only the students who do this
    “lazy deed” could look in the mirror and say, “I will write my own destiny.”

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