Estrella and McCann sell nuts by ripping off Geoffrey Cottenceaus "Animaux" visuals

We've seen Badlanded ads that copied art before. Toshiba's "space chair" looked like Simon Faithfull's escape vehicles, Forever21's billboard looked like "hand from above", Honda Cog was a bit too close to Der Lauf Der Dinge, and in selling art the billboard art was imitating art, not to forget that these condom ads inspired by "head shots" (and later gamefaces). Yup. So here we go again, selling nuts in Sweden and Norway by way of a Swiss artists visual expression.

It's artist Geoffrey Cottenceaus "Animaux" series that clearly has inspired Estrellas campaign for assorted nuts. McCann Norway who created the campaign have admitted to Dagens Media that they have never contacted the artist. Now the campaign is running in Sweden as well, and still nobody has spoken to Geoffrey Cottenceaus. Crazy, right? Nuts, even. (Pun!)

The client, Estrella, were unaware of the artists prior work when Dagens Media contacted Robert Grenmark and asked "Aren't you partially responsible?"

"We have some responsibility as clients, but we were shown images that we thought looked good, and assumed that [the agency] had been in touch with the artist"

When Dagens Media first phoned McCann Norways Paal Tarjei Aasheim, he seemed to think that the artist wouldn't mind, their quite reads;

-" As long as you don't phone up the artist and tell him, there's no worries, the images are all over the internet already"

He later retracted his statement and admits that the agency should have contacted the artist and that they regret not having done so.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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LeslieBAP's picture

Oh holy crap... they didn't even try to differentiate. Totally wrong and incredibly sloppy of the agency. Clearly they knew they should have contacted the artist and that shows willful infringement in the USA, which means extra bonus points when it comes to damages.
Dunno the rules in your fair land.

Hope the artist sues and gets a bundle.

Neo's picture

Peter Fischli and David Weiss lost their case against Honda Cog, didn't they?

HowieSPM's picture

The people inside are each different. RIght?

Kissmekatey's picture

That's incredibly blatant infringement. What are Estrella paying the agency for if not securing rights?

Dabitch's picture

I honestly don't remember how the case ended with "Honda Cog". I know that they missed out on scoring a Titanium award due to the plagiarism angle, and I recall reading somewhere that w+k admitted that one bit with some screws or something in their film was lifted from Der Lauf der dinge... But I have no idea if it ever went to court. Maybe they settled out of court?

LeslieBAP's picture

I'm pretty sure the artists never actually brought legal action about Cog. Threatened, but not acted on. Don't know why, but I'm guessing some money changed hands.

Btw, there is always grey in these cases--like how similar is similar enough to constitute infringement. If the artist can prove that the agency had access to his work prior to creating their ads, that would really help him. Still, here, I'd be really surprised if a court said that there was sufficient transformation from the original to render it NOT infringement. But that's just my guess.

Remember kiddies, I'm not a lawyer, just a law student, and this is all just stuff in my head and not legal advice. :-)

Dabitch's picture

Why this is spreading further is a bit beyond me.

joelapompe's picture

ahahah and what about this Drifters campaign from Leo Burnett, South Africa done in 2006?
So this is not only theft, it's also a copycat ;-)

Reznut's picture

Oh dear.

That one makes more sense since it is for adventure clothing.

HowieSPM's picture

Think of how many countries have not seen this stuff. We can use this idea over and over and over. Maybe Kenya? Chile? Kazhakistan? Bhutan? Maldives? Endless places this can be totally new in!