Update - Leo Burnett says "sorry" to Asylum, but... it's our idea and we can do what we want to

Danbo Amazon Box Robot

An update to yesterdays post Asylum Films calls out Leo Burnett in open letter for stealing their work in Ronald McDonald House advert - Leo Burnett has responded. Cliff note: they say "sorry" followed by a "get over it".

As people theorized in comments and tweet-callbacks, the bigger budget shorter version shot by Blac Ionica was a client-requested remake to air in cinemas. Still doesn't explain why Leo Burnett didn't go back to Asylum... see Leo Burnett - RMHC Gate.

We came up with the idea and the long, and highly-detailed, script for an 'internal' film to be played at the annual gala dinner held by Ronald McDonald House Charities. Obviously, there was a very small budget given that it was only going to be watched by a few hundred people. This meant we could only approach production companies at the cheaper end of the spectrum. Asylum's Ben Falk did a great job for us. As a consequence, our RMHC client took the decision to invest a larger production budget to re-make the film with higher production values so that it could be aired on public media (cinema, if you're interested). The higher production budget meant that the creative team could now interest production companies beyond the cheaper end of the spectrum. Asylum's frustration is that they weren't given the chance to re-make the bigger budget version. We totally hear them on this and have apologised to Ben & co. But, the notion that we somehow stole an idea and re-made it is wrong. The idea, script and both versions of the film are ours!
Looking forwards, we will definitely make sure that Asylum has the opportunity to pitch on other projects. Small and dynamic production companies like Asylum are the lifeblood of our industry. We would never set out to maliciously harm them in any way.

We get it. Sorta. When the places of "airing" the film differ, so does the budget and everything else. All rights (music for example) needs to be renegotiated, the film will probably have to be shorter, and all similarities to the Amazon Box robot Danbo would have to be eradicated.

We're all ad people here, we know where the ad agency idea ends and the treatment begins. Re-making a film with a bigger budget on a clients request often ends up being a frame by frame with a few things changed (score, color of box robot, phrasing "mum and dad" in VO).

It's business as usual in advertising. Lets end on a high note.

(Thanks Anonymous)

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (2)

  • kidsleepy's picture

    Are Sad Robots the 2010's version of chimpanzees-in-commercials from the 90's?

    Sep 01, 2012