Friday, September 12, 2008

YouTube And You

This week's poll is about YouTube.

And it was inspired by comments in my tip on Dave Trott, that lacerated him for adapting Norwegian beat-boxing legend Lasse Gjertsen into Sacla.

So let's find out - is it okay to adapt YouTube clips into ads?

Now, obviously, if you're one of those people who believe it's wrong to rip any book, film, work of art or comedy sketch, then you will vote 'no'.

And if you're one of those people who believe advertising has the right to be inspired by any primary source, then you will probably vote 'yes'.

But what I'm really interested in is the question of whether there is something qualitatively different about adapting a YouTube clip.

Vote now, in the right hand column of this blog.

And if you have a view (please please please, not on 'originality in advertising' in general, we're all sick to death of that, but specifically on the YouTube question), then I would love to hear from you in the comments.


Anonymous said...

ask yourselves this.

'what would webster have done?'

exactly. if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.

be a sponge.

Anonymous said...

i agree, be a sponge, but webster never blatantly ripped off anything.

He would use something in a different way so it was disguised.

You'd never go, 'oh he's just ripped of Fonzy' when watching the hofmiester bear, would you.

I do think it's fucking lazy though when people use youtube all the time, a lot of juniors are doing this and therefore not using thir own imagination.

Anyone can do that.

bbbbbbbb said...

wasn't it Paul Arden who said 'it's not where you get it from, it's how far you take it'

Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with the medium itself. You could equally find 'inspiration' looking at old awards annuals, going to an art exhibition, looking at a student's book.

Most people know the difference between finding inspiration (which everyone does) and cynical stealing (which bastards do). But let's not get into that again.

Lunar BBDO said...

Webster blatantly ripped off Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider for the Cresta Bear. He very happily admitted it.

Anonymous said...

yep agree,

but the climate is different now. cool things aren't just in films or galleries. they're broadcast from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. that's why it's easier to spot. it's about adaptation and relevance. it's a shame when it's done in a lazy way. but i don't think we can be pretentious about it. we sell shit kids. and we absorb our culture and different cultures, then use that to help us sell shit better. you tube is no different to a gallery or a doodle on a bus seat. it's just seen by more people.

Lunar BBDO said...

Ok, he turned him into a bear, but is that enough of a twist? Drumming orang-utan, anyone?

Anonymous said...

I would say that using YouTube is a bit more underhand because you're relying on the fact that not so many people have seen it - if you rip off/ make a 'homage' to a film then it could be justified by the fact that you are making a knowing, cultural nod to something.

Anonymous said...

My point is Lunar, you didn't know that there were taken from Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider or Fonzy, did you?

That's why it's different.

Anonymous said...

What about when you blatantly rip off other ads though, that's just fucking wrong.

Name and shame [edit] that's what i say.

Those MFI ads that were ripped off the Cripsin Ads for Ikea, now that's taking the piss.

Lunar BBDO said...

I didn't know the drumming gorilla was from YouTube either. Or the CST stuff.

Anonymous said...

I voted yes.

A perfect example is Transport for London's Do the Test ad. I'm pretty sure it has adjusted the way many people drive, myself included, and that saves lives. Sure, the creatives will have seen the original film on youtube, and copied it almost exactly, however, it was their idea to apply it to a road safety client, and consequently saved lives.

This is perhaps the only plausible example that I can think of though, because of the subject matter, and ultimate goal of the commercial.

If another ad copied so very blatantly just so it could sell more of it's product, then it's not excusable. That applies to copies - adaptations are, as far I'm concerned, absolutely fine. VW Everyday is a good example of a film that has used a technique first seen on youtube, and adapted it for the product, and brilliantly done it is too.

Anonymous said...

Fallon & Cadbury just did it again, didn't they? Is it ok to take then?

Anonymous said...

@ 12.47

Fair enough, but do you think the agency should have made a friendly approach to the people who made the original and asked if it was OK? After all, it's all for a good cause...

Anonymous said...

ripping ideas from young directors reels, writing a script based entirely on it and then giving it to an established director is probably more contentious than ripping from youtube. and i can name two ads from two of the most successful agencies and given to two of the most successful directors where this has happened. (and if i'm allowed, scamp, i'll happily name them?) THAT is fucking lame, because they were never put up for public viewing/sharing on youtube.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.52

Droga5 Sydney just did it with their big launch campaign for VB Gold check it out on youtube. it got hammered downunder in the industry it was based on a man versus woman sketch. they did use the same director who did the sketch but still not droga's finest hour.

Anonymous said...

I think that nails it really. if you're going to rip someone off, at least ask them if its ok, throw some money at them, or better yet get them involved. stealing (as in the bear ad) is stealing, whether you get found out or not.

but then again we've already sold our souls, is there any point in being honorable if we're going to hell anyway?

Anonymous said...

I've always found that the reason I know something is ripped off is because it's been pointed on blogs such as this. I'd be none the wiser if I was your average consumer. So really, I suppose it doesn't matter a whole lot if you think about it. Remember the purpose of the ads it to move brands forward and ultimately make sales.

Anonymous said...

I think there's a difference between taking an idea and adapting it and just taking someone else's film and sticking your clients logo on the end of it.

George said...

12.52 - Yes I suppose so, but they had to protect themselves from the risk. The risk being that it becomes a copyright issue if permission is asked. But yes - I do agree.

Anonymous said...

what about Matt Keon's cats and wigs?

Anonymous said...

We were once approached by a team who wanted to use the same technique used by one of our directors in his music vide, in one of their ads. Essentially, they used the guy who kind of invented it. So that worked.

The other issue of taking from a young directors reel is totally fucking inexcusable. That's just dirty theft, and if you weren't already going to hell, then you will be now.

Name names please 12.52. I'd love to know. In fact I bet everyone would. It's on topic, so I think it's ok. It's not like you are having a go at the Fallon juniors for no reason or anything.

Anonymous said...

12.52 here.

sorry 1.12

i'm not going to name names. i've just spoken to the young director (it was their work both times which is as much as i'll say) and they don't want the bullshit that's attached to doing something like this, so even more respect to them really. i will say though that on both occasions it's possible that the directors never knew that the script was ripped off.

Anonymous said...

Plagiarism gets found out pretty quickly nowadays and people are quick to stick it on tinternet. With everyone wanging on about how people watch ads differently, (seeking things out on the internet and following links etc) isn't there a danger that if you steal an idea off youtube it's not just the industry that'll know. And what does that do for a brand if you're associated with theft. For a brand like Honda who pride themselves on being original wouldn't it kind of undermine everything. Or is the only reason we care so much because we're a bunch of jealous bastards.

Anonymous said...

Ripped off videos are usually made by non professional people, with no money. They only got talent and an idea.
Advertising creatives are supposed to have talent, ideas, loads of money to produce their ads, and they can ask the help of the best professionals (photographers, directors, graphic designers, actors...)

So being inspired by a youtube video might be ok, but doing the exact same thing that a 17 year old kid did in his kitchen with his digital camera is not only dishonest, it's lazy.

You can make a great ad out of a youtube video, but you have to do your job by making it relevant with the product strategy, and making it look so great that viewers will forget the original video.

imho, here are two exemples of a good and a bad use of youtube inspiration :

good :

bad :

Or otherwise you can contact the maker of the original video, give him/her a big check, use the idea as it is and still win a lion :

Anonymous said...

If you like something, go to the guy who did it and involve him in the rip-off process. I will always support fairness, even if this means putting aside or fighting against a creative director ego.

Anonymous said...

what if you approach them they refuse? Fair enough to get someone else to do it?

Anonymous said...

to just repeat a thought someone else has had is boring. commenting on a youtube clip that went around the world, putting your individual explanation onto it on the other hand is interesting.

Anonymous said...


No I didn't. Why would I? Be honest, would you?

Anonymous said...

scamp did your levis ads pick up anything at campaign big awards??

Anonymous said...

Where were they anyway?

Ted said...

I don't like whwn it happens by the way.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty weaselly not to approach someone for permission just in case they say no.

The chances are people will say yes, because it's free publicity and kudos for them and (in the case of TfL) it's for a good cause. But ask them nicely and involve them - don't just present them with a fait accompli and bully them for an answer.

After all that, if they still say no, then tough shit. Don't do it. Think of your own idea.

Scamp said...

Campaign Big awards haven't happened yet.

Anonymous said...

You're a man in the know. You must have heard on the grapevine if they have something???

Anonymous said...

perhaps your propensity towards flamboyance is what led you there in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Oh for fuck's sake: of course it's ok to rip from youtube/ books/ films/ backs of shithouse doors...anywhere and anything but other ads.
When you're in the business of needing four or five ideas a week....needs fucking must. That's why we're called 'creatives' and not 'originals'.

Anonymous said...

@ 4.15pm

What if it's a really obscure ad that only ran once in Alaska? Are we OK to nick that?

Anonymous said...

it's very simple. if you want to adapt something created by someone else, on youtube or elsewhere. just do this: get their agreement, pay them, give them the freedom they need to do it their way. go to pub. celebrate. anything else is stealing.

adaptation happens ALL the time in other creative industries. advertising is a means to an end. it's frankly comical to see ad folks wringing their hands about originality.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Within the current legal framework, it's their IP. So you need to licence it if you directly copy it. If you're inspired by, that's a different matter. I'd always acknowledge sources somehow though.

Anonymous said...

bin done.

the universal creative debate.

socrates called it the debate for creative ownership.

lets stop now. it won't be answered here.

Anonymous said...

i agree. come on scamp, think of something original to talk about.
oh sorry.

Anonymous said...

@ 5.20

It's already been answered here. As a few people have pointed out, it's pretty easy to separate 'being inspired' from cynically stealing something without crediting it. Trying to make out this is some big unsolveable philosophical argument about the nature of creativity is bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I think it's ok to be inspired by youtube, as long as you move it on.

On the director's reel subject, nicking short film ideas pisses me off eg Cravendale milk by w+k. Sure Pic Pic Andre shot the ad too, but come on w+k, all you did was see his reel, replace the horse with a cow, then ask him to shoot it. Weak.

The big problem is that us creatives have to have a reference to sell in any idea. Both to CDs and the client. It sucks, but it's the way now. It's virtually impossible to be a John Webster and sell an original idea, because loads of money is on the line so everything has to look like something else so people know it works.

Anonymous said...

Surprised they didn't get Antoine Bardou-Jacquet to shoot it.

MarkJ said...

When is it ever ok to just rip a piece of work, re-shoot it and then re-present as your own work?

If you're going to rip off ideas from you tube then why not just do away with creatives altogether and simply have account handlers who are adept at scouting you tube. Then you can just ask the client to pick one they like and be done.

Never is the lameness of others writ so large as when ripping off others. Pfah.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:38

you're working at the wrong agency. it's a cut and paste world. always has been.

Anonymous said...

i think it's wrong to profit from an idea before its creator does.

it's better if we are not scum.

also...why would you, as a creative, WANT to use someone else's idea?

isn't coming up with the idea the fun bit?

Anonymous said...

previous anon.

you are right, coming up with the idea is the best part but sometimes someone else's idea is a perfect fit for you goals. so then it makes sense.

nobody is suggesting the mindless mining of youtube as a career choice.

but when your competition IS youtube you'd better be under no illusions that you can simply think and imagine your way to more entertaining and compelling content than they have 24/7. nobody can.

we're not filling ad breaks anymore.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:38 is right.
CDs and clients these days are either
a) bereft of imagination
b) scared of making a mistake
c) thick
d) convinced that there is a right and wrong answer to everything and only they know what it is.

Or sometimes, in the perfect storm of ineptitude, a combination of all of the above.

You can't sell anything these days without "ref." And anything with "ref" is going to be unoriginal.
It references someone else's work.
To be truly original it should be impossible to find any reference.
But how can a CD or client approve a piece of work when they don't know what it's going to be "like?"
The only way original work could happen is if the creatives (and that could be anyone including the client) thought something up and made it with no one else's input.
I have kindly been complimented on my writing sometimes on this and Lunar's blog. I put this down to the fact that I can write what I like. I don't have to show it to a CD or a planner or a client, like I would a piece of copy, which they all then "tweak" or "improve."
I'm not complaining. That's just how it is. But you can't moan that adapting someone else's stuff is wrong. It's the only avenue we have.
The someone else has often created it without any "tweaks" or "improvements" from a third party. Which is why it's good and why some advertising creative might want to adapt, or just plain steal it.
Original is impossible in advertising.
Except in a very few cases when there is a brave client or a mistake has been made in the unapproval process....ooops errrmmm sorry, I mean approval process.
I'm out.

Lunar BBDO said...

Helmut Krone said that it's impossible to like a 'new page' (original piece of art direction) because its unfamiliarity is unsettling. That means ads without reference are going to suffer from the same thing. Familiarity breeds contentment, but not in a good way.

SchizoFishNChimps said...

Hard to believe, but there's a large constituency of TV viewers out there who don't watch YouTube, in which case the originality question is irrelevant, cos they won't spot a rip-off.
There are some very original ideas knocking around on YouTube, so it's only natural that the best ones are pinched by Her Majesty's Advertising Industry for the greater public good.

Anonymous said...

Lasse Gjertsen has quite allot to say about the subject on his own Youtube page.

Good lad! He might be expressing it in a melodramatic/immature way but it is obvious that he gives a shit about what happens to his ideas and I think that should be respected.

George said...

TO ALL ADVERTISEMENT COMPANIES: Before contacting me about using my work in advertisement or wanting me to work for you please read this first: (I'm NOT saying the following about music videos! Well, it depends..) A long time ago I promised myself never to do commercials. That's because I don't think it's right to push (usually unneccesary) products on fellow human beings, and I'm not very fond of advertisement because it's annoying and nothing more than annoying, and in my eyes an evil way of marketing. I also consider myself a true artist, with a conscience and a soul, and I would not feel good at all if I used my (so called) talents to promote a commercial product. I know I might get a lot of money from it, but I would feel awful if I made money in such a dishonest and cynical way. In fact, I see no difference in doing a commercial than sucking an old, fat, rich white guy in a suit's little dick and getting paid for it. That would actually be a more honorful way of making money. I will much rather starve to death than being a part of your huge corporate marketing empire, scouting the world for things you can claim ownership over so that you can make more dirty money, lowering the quality of entertainment, society and life in general for the rest of us. So if you ask me to do a commerical, you're offending me, and if you, like some companies have already done, the egoistic human filth and shit they are, use my ideas without my permission, and make money on it, I sincerely hope that you all get heart attacks on Christmas Eve and slowly and painfully die in front of your crying families, while everything is being filmed and put on youtube, so that we can feel better and safer in this world. Ahem, ok, sorry kids, I am one of Bill Hicks goat-children. 'More father, moooore..

Sounds like a nice chap I think.

George said...

PS - that was Lasse talking - not me. I am a satanic advertising enthusiast.

Anonymous said...

@lunar bbdo

All very erudite, but doesn't it make you laugh when people use these philosophical arguments about the nature of 'originality' to cover up blatantly nicking an idea? It's like a thief caught with his hands in the till trying to engage the police in a debate about the nature of 'property' and whether anyone can truly be said to 'own' anything.

Lunar BBDO said...

I'm sorry. I was obviously erudite but unclear. I'm disappointed that originality (or something close to it) will never get a fair crack of the whip because referenced work is easier to buy.

I think that's a shame. I do think 'nothing is truly original' is a pathetic cop-out.

But I'd also say: you know when you're doing it. If you can stand the guilt, go ahead. But if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

If you're referring to my current post (feel free to comment on my blog instead), then all I'm saying is that a good as is a good ad if it does what it's supposed to do. If it's ripped off someone else's work then that's another matter, separate to the efficacy of the ad.

Anonymous said...

Check this out from 1996

The best ideas are the fresh ones, if people have seen it before on youtube, it ain't that fresh.

Fresh to whom?

The point is did many people see it before?

Anonymous said...

OMG Alex, That has blown my tiny mind. surprised you didn't link to the Ok Go video while you were at it.

Anonymous said...

lunar is right. efficacy is un-related to originality.

but the truth is that if something were truly original it very probably wouldn't be an ad. advertisimg reflects the culture back at itself. so inevitably it will and should feel somewhat familiar. weird is a tough sell. ask david lynch.

Bentos said...

To be honest even the Ariston ad Scamp was originaly wanking about was a rip-off of a Russian animation (though the precise name escapes me for the moment).

Creative Park said...

I don't have problems seeing youtube animations/video/sketches being "adapted" for a more commercial use, my biggest problem is when it's done really badly or that no attempt was made to make it look unique.

Does anyone remember the sky action movies ads with the stick men? It was a blatent rip off from the xiaoxiao animator but what annoyed more what that it looked awful.

Where as things like the pork and beans MTV from Weezer is just inspired, even though it's rip offs of youtube videos they have realy done well to make it their own.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Just seen this post.
Matt Keon has nothing to do with cats and wigs.
Other than helping the team get it out.
So whoever the poster is that posted that you are wrong. Name yourself instead of others.