Before I begin, I need to say that I have liked many of my jobs. I have enjoyed the people I have worked with and sometimes even liked a boss or two, in that “I respect you” sort of way. But that never stopped me from thinking, “Man, why are we always being told to copy someone else’s concept?” Why is it, when we get a new project, our concepts are often times thrown out because __ Graphic Design Firm did something that won an award and therefore we should try and do something more like that?
I thought it was just something that took place while working for firms who weren’t working with high-profile clients, known across the U.S. or the world for a new concept or campaign. For example, I was designing logos for non-profits, government groups and small local restaurants not huge fortune 500 corporations who had commercial space on every major network, not multi-billion dollar fast food chains, not Quaker Oats. I just always figured that this didn’t happen up at the top. I knew that Pentagram didn’t copy concepts. And Landor didn’t rip off entire campaigns. This had to stop somewhere right above the level of exposure I was used to dealing with.
But that’s just not the case.
When Burger King came up with their the Wake up with the King ad campaign, it was instantly a hit. It was an uncomfortable hit, but a hit nonetheless. People were talking about how weird it was. Everyone recognized the King. When the ads came on, Toby Joe and I stopped whatever it is we were doing to revel in its weirdness, and our own discomfort. Among all the “I’m Lovin’ It” ads they did something great, they had their low-grade, craptastic meat noticed again.
We were both a little disturbed when Quaker Oatmeal followed suit. Basically, whatever marketing firm worked with Quaker Oatmeal in coming up with their new ads featuring this plastic looking fella standing in a field holding food for a family of five (give or take) ripped BK’s team off entirely. It was annoying. But I let it go.
That is up until today.
The other night, I was watching TV when a White Castle ad aired. And wouldn’t you know, but the VERY same idea was laid out before me. And my head exploded a little bit.
Are we such unoriginal creatures that we need to blatantly rip people off? Are we really that lame? One of my biggest pet peeves in life is just how unoriginal and predictable people can be. Just once, I want to spend one entire month pleasantly surprised. What makes this happen? Fear?
Why are advertisers/account executives/CEOs/business franchises afraid to make people think? When did we start working towards the lowest common denominator?
Next week, I’ll talk about just how bad I think the Oneify print graphics are. (Tho, admittedly, they look better on screen than as 6 foot tall subway posters. Yikes.)