Last month, 72andSunny launched a “Claim the Crown” spot for New Era in anticipation of the upcoming MLB season.
It appears not everyone was a fan.
David Castro, CEO of Complex Apparel LLC, took to YouTube and Instagram to ask if New Era had “stolen” the idea for the spot from a “Crowns For The Culture” video promoting his Dungeon Forward headwear apparel brand.
He created a series of two videos to highlight purported similarities between the two campaigns. Both feature a similar-looking prop throne, with an implicit comparison between crowns and baseball caps as throne-sitting individuals (including MLB players in the case of 72andSunny’s spot for New Era) dramatically slide the caps on their heads.
Castro seems to believe the similarities are an example of a category dominator stealing ideas from a smaller brand.
“What you’re about to see is when big companies with big budgets, like New Era, lose all their original ideas and decide to steal from small companies like mine,” Castro says at the beginning of the first video.
We reached out to 72andSunny, which provided the following statement in response:
Tapping into a cultural insight that baseball caps are like crowns in modern street culture, an idea discussed in several third-party articles including the 2015 article “The Common Man’s Crown” by Troy Patterson in The New York Times, while also playing off pop-culture icons being referred to as royalty, 72andSunny, on behalf of New Era, independently created the “We Who Reign” campaign.
The campaign shows how the baseball cap has come to represent more than just baseball – it represents the cities and empires over which today’s modern kings (men and women) reign. Launched on opening day, we’re excited to see fans claiming their own crowns throughout the baseball season.
The agency declined to elaborate on this statement, which does not directly address Castro’s claim.
There’s little doubt that the two videos are visually and stylistically similar. And it may not look good for New Era to release work resembling a video from much smaller brand in the same category. But is this a case of intentionally borrowing a concept or of two separate parties arriving at a (not radically original) idea at roughly the same time?
Also, while the proximity of the two releases invites comparison, it may call into question whether there was time for any intentional imitation.
We’re reserving judgement, but we are interested to see what our readers think.