This is an open letter that was posted on the net a few months ago. I meant to put this up when I first saw it, but forgot.  I saw the advert the other day and since I haven't any else post it I thought I would in case it's of any interest.

30th August, 2012
Graeme Light
Head of TV, Leo Burnett

Dear Graeme,

I am writing you this open letter as a director of Asylum Films, a supplier of video content to Leo Burnett in the UK.  It concerns a recent piece of work we have done for your client, Ronald McDonald House Charities.  I very much appreciate your time in reading this, and will keep it short.

We are a smaller production company, taking steps into larger online and TV content.  With this in mind, we were approached by Leo’s to help with the job mentioned above.  It was on an extremely tight turn around and small budget. Motivated by the project and working with an agency such as yourselves we pulled out all the stops producing the job and bringing in a difficult shoot, over two nights in a working NHS hospital.    We are most proud of it, and feedback from the team and the client was very positive. It was recognised how hard we had worked to turn the job around to such a standard with the constraints we had.

A few days ago a new video for RMHC was released to the press through Leo’s as a first national campaign. It is essentially our piece of work reshot and redone with a bigger budget.  Not only the concept, but lighting, the feel and shot selection are almost identical.

At no point were we consulted on this or even told about it happening as a courtesy, and certainly not asked about our ability  to create this new version.  We feel hugely aggrieved by the situation. It is hard for smaller companies to make the transition into doing work with bigger agencies, but we feel we have the experience and showreel to do so.  We take on these smaller and difficult jobs as a way to prove our abilities for future work and to start to build a relationship, putting in hours and getting production values that exceed what might be expected from the budget. Our agility and creative ability is our stock in trade, and to feel we, and it, has been used in this way is disappointing to say the least.

In short, our work and creative content has been copied and reused, without any consultation or recognition.

I feel that no one would wish to run an organisation that knowingly exploits young and emerging creativity, as such I am bringing this matter to your personal attention.
Yours sincerely,
Ben Falk
Director
Asylum Films Ltd


Read more at http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/08/30/leo-burnett-accused-copying-asylum-films-advert-ronald-mcdonald-house-charities-open#WoqqhBgIdpfG1qOO.99


You can see the original here https://vimeo.com/43894674

and the remake https://vimeo.com/48535629

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Rip off aside... I thought the original was better.  The animation had way more character to it. I hated the shuffling sliding feet of the 2nd vid.  Also the arms in the second vid started halfway down the characters body which looked odd.  And the curved face didnt look as good as the box face.   I also preferred the hand held camera  in the first. 

I agree. The original was much more charming and affecting than the remake. The music played a part I think but the character animation was superior and the characters were more appealing in the original. There's another side of the story, of course, but it sure looks like a classless move on the client's part.

The only thing that I thought the remake "improved" was the lighting -- the darker mood sold the idea of the environment being scary better (I thought the first did a better job of depicting the loneliness of a sterile hospital environment, which worked).  The overall craft of the original is way, way better -- you connect with the character much more.  In the remake, half the time I was just sitting there thinking about how weird and unnatural the "walk" looked.

I've submitted to competitions where it was stated that the client might just use the winning submission as the basis of a re-worked commercial, but if that wasn't in the contract then it's a real s*** move on RMHC's part.

I think this kinda what happened, they commissioned a viral, but liked the idea so much they wanted a bigger budget version.  It would have been polite to stick with the same company, but then it's business and they probably have other companies they prefer to use with the bigger contracts.  Worst thing is they're probably totally within their rights as they paid for the idea in first place. I'm sure plenty of people have an idea ripped off without getting a penny.


Thomas Nicol said:

I've submitted to competitions where it was stated that the client might just use the winning submission as the basis of a re-worked commercial, but if that wasn't in the contract then it's a real s*** move on RMHC's part.

we're not getting a lot of important details on the story here.

how much did you pitch to them and how much did they give you an idea and allow you to produce it? what did they bring to the table? were you paid for your time? did either of you sign anything?

Whoaa, Its nothing to do with me!  Sorry for the confusion, I was just passing on a letter I found on the net.  Thought it was interesting, wondered if this kinda thing was happening a lot.

mikefallek said:

we're not getting a lot of important details on the story here.

how much did you pitch to them and how much did they give you an idea and allow you to produce it? what did they bring to the table? were you paid for your time? did either of you sign anything?

well get that guy on the forum. these things happen but i would bet he'd admit to making mistakes with them.

it seems very vague

First video looks more "natural", one can really connect and sympathise with the box guy. Also I like video length and music much more in the first one. Honestly I can't see that big budget difference in the second video.

I know everything made today is actually a copy from something already done in smaller or bigger part, but is there a way to protect your idea like this one from being copied by someone else? Although second video is a clear copy-paste, it has different length, music, slightly different characters and scenes so those guys can just say it's their idea. I guess it's like when you see someone clearly steals from you (like politicians ) but you can't really do much about it

Disgusting. I had a friend this happened to a while back. Make sure you copyright content. It doesn't cost much.

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