Unoriginality: One Possible Outcome When Advertising and Consumer Expectation Clash

Portions of the blog post first appeared in my CMGT 541 blog post under the heading: “Ethical or Not,” in which we studied the ethical issues relevant to advertisements.

This summer, my Twitter feed was inundated with a video by a pop band called OK Go. After viewing the video featuring wacky stunts performed in an open-plan warehouse, I began to identify the catchy tune with creative, happy people doing cool creative things. I thought nothing more of it, that is until the release of the newest iPhone announced last week.

So, when I saw this new video from Apple, I watched it until the very end, feeling very happy about the creative vibe displayed. Happy I was, and something else. But I did not know what that else was until I did a search for unethical advertising and I came across this article in AdWeek about what appears to be a copycat ad. Apple’s advertisement seems similar to, you guessed it, the OK Go video that kept populating my Twitter feed (most likely due to the fact that I am a huge Apple fan).

No wonder why I had surrendered part of my time to intently watch the Apple Ad in total. After all, had I not already been manipulated into liking the commercial due to the resemblance to the OK Go music video? The Apple ad does seem similar to the music video that I had listened to earlier, and enjoyed. What are the unintended consequences of such occurences?

Questioning the wisdom

If Apple’s advertising continues to appear to closely to resemble the latest music video sensation, will the public simply tire and wonder why such an innovative company cannot produce unique advertisements? Aesthetically, will the advertisers and ad agencies suffer a creative slump by riding the coattails of Apple’s aesthetic success?

I agree with AdWeek writer David Gianatasio, author of the article, “Is Apple’s ‘Perspective’ Film a Bit Too Much Like OK Go’s Recent Viral Video? Band says it even pitched the company on the general idea.” Gianatasio asserts that Apple risks its cool-factor by adopting a style that appears to borrow from a pre-existing video.

Apple, do not let me down!

I cannot shake the feeling of disappointment at being manipulated by one of my favorite brands. I also do not want to see our world mediascape clouded by riffs off the Apple aesthetic, and vice versa. There are too many cool advertising agencies out there with diverse takes on communicating catchy ideas. There is no need to dive into the same well.

Apple, please do not get boring.

Reading list:

Young, A. (2010). Brand media strategy: Integrated communications planning in the digital era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 1.
Barry, P. (2012). The advertising concept book: A complete guide to creative ideas, strategies, and campaigns. New York: Thames & Hudson. Chapters 1, 12 & 15.

Spirizzi, M. Online advertising ethics. Questionable uses of online advertising.

Elliot, S. & Vega, T. (2013). Trying to be hip and edgy, ads become offensive. behip-and-edgy-ads-become-offensive.html?smid=pl-share

Severson, K. (2013) For Skittles, death brings both profit and risk.
New York Times. Retrieved from