Dear Advertising, Stop Stealing the Work of People With Actual Talent

By Matt Van Hoven 

Here’s yet another case of blatant copying by an ad agency, called Cundari. Let the name sink in for a second so you don’t forget: Cundari. In this case, the shop (Cundari) was ballsy enough to admit that they stole artist Thomas Allen’s work, “We were inspired by your technique” wrote the project’s CD in an e-mail. And then he somehow came to the next logical conclusion: “nobody is stealing anything from anybody”. Further proof that advertising believes its own bullshit.

That quote, from SVP Creative Director at Toronto-based Cundari Andy Manson, followed a string of emails sent by Allen, who had previously created the book cover you see above. Cundari put together a spec ad campaign for a book store called Pulpfiction Books &#151 which is a small shop in Western Canada &#151 and then published it on AdsOfTheWorld.

According to the bookshop’s owner, Cundari called one day asking if they could use the store’s name and address for a spec campaign. In exchange, the store got some posters for free, which was good because the shop owner is “a poor” with no advertising moneys. No dinero exchanged hands, and according to the store owner in an email to Allen, “If I had been a paying client, I would have canceled any contract with the agency [if he had known about the thievery]. But, again, there is no contract, and no ad campaign, just me trying to do a favor over the phone for some guys in Toronto who seemed polite, energetic, and not overtly trying to sell me anything.” Further proof that there are smart would-be clients out there &#151 they just have no money.

Allen laid this all out on his blog (thanks tipster). Allen isn’t taking any legal action &#151 rather he’s playing the tried and true “let the internet do its thing” card. Comments on AOTS are legendary: that site is home to some of the best creative work on the planet, and to submit stolen concepts is like talking about Fight Club. Credits for the Cundari crew are below. As are a couple of the short email messages.

Dear Mr. Allen,

Inspiration can come from anywhere. We were inspired by your technique just as you were inspired by the artists who painted the original pulp novel covers. So nobody is stealing anything from anybody. Think of all the executions that Andy Warhol’s lithograph technique has inspired. Or that celebrates Shepard Fairey’s style. Or Peter Beard’s. Or Barbara Kruger’s. Or Robert Indiana’s. The list goes on and on. Advertising routinely reflects the society around it and, as a result, what is popular.

Nobody was trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.


Andy Manson
SVP Creative Director

And Allen’s response, after some thoughtful deliberation:

Inspiration is not the same as shamelessly stealing someone else’s intellectual property. I was inspired to do something new and different with the books. You were “inspired” to copy what I do and make it look like my work &#151 and it took 5 of you to pull it off. That’s pretty pathetic. Just remember the law of physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Chief Creative Officer: Brent Choi
Creative Director: Andy Manson
Head of Art: Andy McKay
Writer: Andy Manson
Art Director: Andy McKay
Typographer: John Ireland
Photographer: George Kanellakis
Retoucher: George Kanellakis