Despite many television watchers these days having the remote at the ready to zoom through those pesky commercials, watching them proves inevitable to some degree. Whether we simply get up for a fridge run at a show break or just watch our fair share of sports (guilty), we can’t avoid watching commercials.
For those of us who pay attention to the field of advertising or even for the casual viewer, there may be times where you’re watching a TV spot and you say to yourself, “Hey, I’ve seen that actor before.” In the field of acting (or life in general), television actors are hot when they’re hot, and can often appear in multiple, concurrently running ads.
While at first pass and to the uninitiated, you may ask why that guy can pitch one product over here, and do another over there. The reality is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with an actor being contracted to pitch a product in one category and another product in a totally different category (Cars vs. Fast Food), however, if a guy is in a Toyota commercial and Honda commercial airing back to back, then we’d have a problem.
Ironically, for an actor to appear in multiple running ads may not be such a bad thing. In the world of advertising, multiple insertions aimed at target audience recall is the goal and if an actor appearing in one ad erroneously causes someone to “recall” the spot when they’ve actually seen him in another, well, so be it.
But what happens when television ads for different products go beyond sharing actors? What happens when one product blatantly rips off the strategy and execution of another product’s ad?
We’ve all likely seen the Old Spice ads developed by Wieden + Kennedy called “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like”. They not only set the industry on fire and won awards, but had the television commercial consumers in all of us laughing at the visual and verbal assault, causing us to flock to YouTube to watch it again. As clever and effective as these series of commercials are, they have spawned a host of copycat commercials that are quite similar, right down to the manly spokesperson, tracking camera, comical copy and visual playfulness.
Let’s watch the ads in question:
The one that started it all:
Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
So, while using an actor for different products may not be necessarily a bad thing (possibly even positive), does copying the execution of another ad have a positive or negative effect on the viewing target audience?
Is this strategic plagiarism or jumping on the creative bandwagon? Is there any blame to be shared and if so, is it the agency’s fault for pitching a trend or the client’s fault for accepting it?
Vote for who does it better and share comments below.