Chevy: Is Stealing a Creative Idea from a Blog Plagerism?

If you tuned into World Series recently, you likely saw a charming Chevy ad that featured a nostalgic picture – within a picture.  If not, check out the below:

dear-photograph/

It’s a seeming unique concept, except that the blog Dear Photograph has been featuring this type of unique creativity for some time. Not only does the blog get site traffic of over 10M, it’s been covered by some rather large, mainstream outlets (Hello, ABC News). So, it’s fair to say that Chevy’s advertising agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners) did not have the same creative epiphany.

The interwebs are getting riled up, similar to how consumers reacted when Urban Outfitters stole a design from an Etsy blogger and with good reason. In that case, Urban was literally profiting from the Etsy blogger, though.

Wait,  you say, advertising (and PR) are in the businesses of ideas?? Ruh-Ro.

Any good marketer is inspired by the world around us, both online and off. But, there is a difference between producing a campaign that is inspired by, for instance, a blog – and a campaign that lifts the blog’s content without any additional thinking/creativity.

Had it been me, I would have contacted the blog owner prior to the campaign – and tried to arrange a partnership.  Given that Dear Photograph has such a huge fanbase – I would have also tried to crowdsource portions of the ad, leading to greater (positive) awareness. People know the ad now – for all the wrong reasons.

Based on Mashable’s story coverage, it appears that Dear Photograph was never contacted about the Chevy campaign before it ran, though its owner is being incredibly gracious afterwards, sharing that he is “flattered” by the imitation.

I’m sure there are legal issues and potential repercussions should Chevy/their agency admit to their creative copying, but to me it’s still the best, most ethical solution.  What are your thoughts?

P.S. Fun Fact – As a blogger, I’ve often had whole articles copied  – once word-for-word by an intern at a major “research” university.