Patriotic Plagiarism?

By Jh Published on .

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In the race to say something consoling after the September 11 attacks, many advertisers have sounded similar notes. But two PSAs produced in the wake of the tragedies are more than just similar; they're practically identical. The first came from GSD&M (bottom row of frames), and was duly reported in the October Buzz. With several production companies, the Austin agency produced a spot featuring average Americans of various ethnicities saying one line - "I am an American." The spot was filmed a week after the attacks and donated to the Ad Council. Then came MTV and multiplatinum musician Dave Matthews, who spearheaded a drive to produce a series of spots, again featuring Americans of various ethnicities saying the same line (top row). Featuring studio sheen and cause-celebs like Richard Gere, it was backed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights/Education Fund and began airing on MTV almost a month after the attacks. A heart-warming patriotic coincidence? "It's pure synchronicity," says RCA VP-CD Doug Biro, who headed up the second campaign." We made these spots before those spots showed up on the air. There's room enough for the message, no matter who makes it." According to Biro, the campaign was shot on September 21 and edited on September 23, the weekend the Ad Council spot began airing. A press release from edit house Consulate, meanwhile, says Matthews brought the idea to Biro on the 23rd. "I don't want to get into a pissing contest about whose are better or who came first," Biro says. "The last thing Dave Matthews needs to do is plagiarize some ad agency." But a none too thrilled GSD&M CD Jeremy Postaer says, "With something that similar, no matter what the timing is, it seems a little suspicious. Just because everybody's trying to help doesn't mean you can copy each other. You've got to make sure you're doing something original."
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