Just Asking

It’s a problem if the creatives are aware they’re biting someone’s idea, but sometimes two people 3,000 miles apart just have the same thought.

I think they are conceptually different but artistically similar. It looks like the same art director because they both draw from the same color palette and use silhouettes and graffiti graphics. And let’s face it, they are going after the same response from the same audience: street cred. And, no, plagiarism isn’t a new problem; it has always been with us and always will be. The best of us just know how to disguise or murder our sources. I think there’s a thing called unconscious plagiarism: A lot of creative people are looking at past work for their influences, and every once in a while, they may unintentionally tap into something they’ve seen before without even thinking about it—probably saw it and forgot about it. It’s a problem in our business. It’s sort of sad; in ways, it’s also flattering. It happens all the time: Ideas are generated by the times and issues and culture we live in, and [our work] reflects this. So sometimes, ideas go into production that end up resembling each other. It’s happened to many of us in advertising, where an idea that had been approved is killed because something so close to it just ran. … But I don’t think anybody in advertising plagiarizes on purpose—being fresh and original is our goal. —