It’s time for yet another round of the endless and arguably pointless debate over originality in advertising.
This one concerns two admittedly similar campaigns for different brands that make products for cars but do not produce automobiles themselves.
You may recall this 2017 effort promoting Pennzoil by JWT Atlanta (not Wunderman Thompson), which was part of an extended campaign called “Joyride.”
The car-as-beast metaphor was in full effect on that effort and later releases in the series.
Now here is a more recent one from FCB Chicago and Goodyear—which makes tires, not fuel, remember—that does on first glance bear some striking similarities to the ad above.
The auto/animal comparison is even more explicit in a couple of different ways, but there’s also the identical font, the use of the word “joyride” (which is common, to be fair), and the tight turns in the dark on wet, abandoned city streets.
At any rate, the similarities were significant enough to be noticed by JWT.
“We love the new Goodyear work. Of course, we liked it more when it was called ‘Joyride’ for Pennzoil. It’s clear the team at FCB Chicago really liked our work, too,” stated CEO Spence Kramer of JWT Atlanta, who took obvious umbrage with the work.
JWT has not worked on Pennzoil since M/H VCCP won the business, along with Quaker State, in a late 2018 pitch to parent company Shell.
An FCB spokesperson acknowledged that the ads resembled one another visually on some level but also pointed out that the brands’ logos both happen to be yellow, that the house font is Trade Gothic in each case, and that the cars in these ads are different models (a Ford Mustang and a Dodge Charger). They also noted that the shots in the Goodyear effort focus more directly on the tires themselves, which are the product being promoted after all.
Perhaps most importantly, these brands target the same consumer: someone who drives “muscle cars” and looks to achieve peak performance via related third-party products.
After this post went live, the client weighed in. “This is an original piece of work created independently by our agency and at no point was Pennzoil or the Pennzoil ad referenced or discussed,” said Goodyear’s director of consumer communications Doug Grassian.
Since we don’t own cars, we don’t quite have a bull/eagle/demon in the race.