A blog for the New Zealand creative advertising industry, now at www.campaignbrief.com/nz. Email news to: michael@campaignbrief.com

Thursday, August 10, 2006


A note from Steve McCabe, CD of Y&R, regarding their AXIS winning Nokia 'Backgrounds' campaign, that hopefully clears the agency of plagiarism:

I trust you’re very familiar with our Nokia Video video calling campaign and the fact that the idea was supposedly done in Toronto a few years back. Well, Tony and I have been very suspicious of that work since it was first posted on the NZ and CB blogs. So, we’ve been trying to find out the truth behind it.
Looking at the layout of the ad (pictured), it is not done to Nokia guidelines. They have omitted the handset number (like 6680) which every Nokia ad worldwide has.
A few international juries have awarded our campaign. The North American One Show (merit), Cannes (silver) with a North American on the jury. They certainly would not have, if they’d seen the idea before.
A closer look at the PDF suggests it was only a rough mock up and not real (look at the attachment and the low res pack shot).
Finally I managed to get hold of Joe Amaral, CD of TBWA Toronto. He wasn’t at the agency when they had Nokia as a client, but was very helpful in trying to find out the truth behind the ad.
After a bit of asking around, he eventually came back with this official line “the ads never ran in paid conventional media”.
It seems clear that the TBWA Toronto campaign never ran. Which surely makes accusations of plagiarism redundant. We’d be grateful if you could clear our names, especially with AWARD judging coming up.
If someone has decided to try and hijack a campaign knowing full well it could not be a copy and is not a copy, it is very depressing indeed. I have heard rumours about who did it on this occasion and that they are angry because some of their work was kicked out of Axis (Because the idea had been done before.) Our Nokia video call backgrounds first ran back in October and have had much publicity since then. Interesting how it took until after the Axis judging for the Canadian work to come to the fore.
We all strive to be original, different and to do the best work we can. But there’s always a good chance that someone, somewhere in the world had the same idea as you. And if the work has been in awards annuals, maybe we should be aware of the idea. Surely we should save allegations of copying ideas for ads that have actually been produced. We can’t be expected to have seen every Canadian’s book of ads that never ran.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can this issue please be posted on those Listener billboards. Perhaps somewhere on the far left.

2:30 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, give the guy a fair hearing.
We were all happy enough to scream 'burn the witch' while pointing the bone at Y & R.
If what he says is true, then it needs to be reported and the culprits exposed.
I just hope they can get to the bottom of it, prove their point and then we all could probably have a real spit roast!
And no, I'm not from Y & R, or even Auckland.

3:09 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd give you an award on principle, going so far to prove your integrity.

Still waiting for Karl to come back to us....

3:58 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precious adwankers. Like anyone cares - quite a nice idea but hardly a ground-breaking insight.

4:16 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, what a desperate plea. Award yourself a pat on the back to go with the hefty pay-packet. Isn't that enough?

From one of the forty-or-so people that read this and even give a shit.

4:32 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

so tell us how you really feel steve

4:38 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After spending 6 months at TBWA Toronto pretending to be an autistic Guatemalan intern called Pepe, Steve McCabe was finally able to obtain the information to clear his name. Way to get to the bottom of it.

4:52 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check the Cannes Archive Steve the ad was done three years before you. Pionts for the PR spin though.

5:22 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:30 PM - I have (luckily) got nothing to do with Y&R - But I think Steve's email is a fair call. There were great, a few friends even commented about them to me. Great ads guys. There's actually a pub in the UK that has booths that have the sound of an office, taxi and train station in them. Genius idea.

7:01 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:14 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And anyone heard saying: "Ah McCabe, you've done it again" should be shot.

6:49 PM NZST

Anonymous Scrappy Doo said...

So ends the case of the Scammy Video Backgrounds. If it wasn't for those pesky award winning creatives someone would have gotten away with it.

6:52 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow good work. Great detective work. Even better posters.

2:50 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They smile in your face, all the time they wanna take your place, backstabbers, backstabbers..."

Just to quote an old song.

You go Steve...nice guy that did good...story ends.

From The Loquacious One

6:40 PM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the funniest thing is that TBWA/Toronto just got totally busted for entering ads that never ran.

By the way, I'm not sure going on the blog and bringing this to the spotlight again was the smartest PR move I've ever seen. Probably best to spend your time on new work and just see what happens at AWARD. Much better jury.

8:31 AM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the ads never ran in paid conventional media" - you'll notice that this wording does NOT say that the TBWA ads weren't created first though. Don't jump to your own self-promoting conclusions Steve-o.

1:46 AM NZST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ads were made at TBWA\Toronto under a CD named James Spence*, the ads nevr ran and were made purely for awards.

The team was: CW: Michael Murray. AD: Jason Hill.

James Spence* was eventually fired from TBWA\Toronto after numerous client complaints.

12:14 PM NZST


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