I hope you’ve all seen Dan Simons’ famous and fantastic basketball gorilla video, which in part was the inspiration for the even-more-famous Colour Changing Card Trick from Richard Wiseman (for which Wiseman not only credited Dan, but included a gorilla in the background as a tribute to his friend).
What’s less well-known is that Dan, quite rightly, owns the copyright to the execution of his concept, i.e. you can’t make your own ripoff version of his basketball video.
Which is exactly what British advertising agency WCRS seem to have done. They’ve created an almost identical copy of Dan’s video for client Transport for London, with the tenuous message that if you didn’t spot the gorilla, you might not spot a cyclist on the road. Oops! Sorry Dan, didn’t mean to steal your creativity and use it, entirely uncredited, but the money was reeeally good and we were under pressure to do something cool. No hard feelings, right?
At the time of writing, the website featuring the ripoff version is still live (no I’m not going to link to it, it’ll just encourage them), but the YouTube version has been removed “due to a copyright claim from a third party”. Good. And hopefully this will go all the way and the ad will be pulled entirely. In fact I will only be satisfied when WCRS hand over their fat agency fee to the guy it rightfully belongs to. Yes, I work in marketing, but I can say hand on heart that nothing disgusts me more than agencies stealing not just the ideas, but the actual executions of hardworking artists (or in this case, scientists) to turn a profit. It happens far too frequently and usually with little consequence, but hopefully this time the people who can’t think of their own ideas will get what they deserve.
UPDATE (12 hours later): it seems that Dan has decided against trying to win a legal battle against the British Government (who paid for the ad), but has expressed his unhappiness at their actions, pointing out that he has helped ad agencies for free in the past and would have done so had they bothered to ask.