How Original Is ‘Sheet Metal’?

Is it cosmic synergy, long-lost residual memory or pure coincidence that makes great minds think alike?

Saturn’s “Sheet Metal” spot from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, was one of the most celebrated ads of 2002, hailed for its originality and daring. There’s just one thing. As an agency snitch from Sweden says, “It was done three years ago by a director named Jonas Akerlund.”

The look-alike is “Road Trip,” an insurance spot from Stockholm shop Storakers for Swedish bank SEB. Like “Sheet Metal,” it shows people moving along roads as though they were in cars. (“Don’t have a car?” a super asks at the end. “We have car financing with built-in car insurance.”)

Several shots, including the ones here, are strikingly similar. The tone, though, is different. “Road Trip” is set to bouncy ska, not a quiet piano score.

Goodby’s Jamie Barrett says he’d never seen “Road Trip” before last week, when Shoptalk sent it to him. “None of us have,” he says. “We would never do anything if we thought it remotely resembled something else.”

Akerlund was shooting a Madonna video in Los Angeles last week and declined comment through a rep at his production house, HSI.