UPDATE: Animator Accuses McDonald’s and DPZ&T of Ripping Off His ‘Crazy Cows’ Video

By Patrick Coffee 

UPDATE: On Friday morning, Harris said that the production company responsible for the video in question has contacted him and that he is currently accepting legal advice on the case before formulating a response.


Don’t say Twitter isn’t good for anything. Earlier this week we came across a tweet from U.K.-based animator Cyriak Harris that appears to depict a McDonald’s ad next to a video made by Harris.

The similarity between the two is quite striking.

We reached out to Harris, whose work has appeared in ads for Coca-Cola, Trident and others over the past few years.

He wrote, “At this point all I know is that there is a video on the internet that appears to be a McDonald’s advert, which is clearly based on one of my own videos. It was brought to my attention on twitter, including a link to a forum thread supposedly by the creative behind the advert, where I was cited as the ‘reference.'”

Here’s the original video, which went live in 2010 and has more than 35 million YouTube views. Harris described it as “surreal bovine choreography.”

He also sent us the link mentioned above.

It leads to a tech forum in which Leandro Pedrouzo—who is co-owner of Buenos Aires production company Juan Solo—wrote three days ago that the Harris clip was “the reference for this Spot,” adding, “The director and I wanted to go a bit more realistic but the client loved the ref.”

The ad was run by Arcos Dorados, the Latin American version of McDonald’s, with creative by Sao Paulo, Brazil agency DPZ&T.

In response to our email today, a DPZ&T spokesperson wrote:

“The creative idea used in the campaign was born before we found this work, which was later used with numerous other works as a reference for the production of the spot. It is common to use creative references in the advertising industry, however, we realize that in this particular case, the final result shows some similarities with the work of the artist in question. When we realized this, we asked our client Arcos Dorados, a franchisee of McDonald’s in Latin America who was totally unaware of the problem, to pull the ad from air, which was done immediately. The production house responsible for the work will contact the artist Cyriak Harris with a view to resolving the issue as soon as possible amicably.”

The story has received quite a bit of media attention, earning coverage in USA Today and BuzzFeed U.K.

Today Harris told us that McDonald’s has not gotten back to him. He wrote, “That’s not unusual for me, but it is quite unusual to be copied so directly like that.”