A Prestigious University Just Got Accused of Plagiarizing an Ad

China's Fudan University Pulled the Promo Video and Is Investigating

By Published on .

It's always embarrassing when companies get caught out making copycat ads. But it's downright ridiculous when the brand accused of plagiarism is a prestigious university.

To celebrate the 110th anniversary of Shanghai's Fudan University, the school posted a promotional video that internet users said appeared to be ripped off from a spot made last year by the University of Tokyo. (Fudan's ad is above; the University of Tokyo ad is below.)

As Shanghai Daily put it, the university's promo film entitled "To My Light"

shows a female graduate in a flight suit roaming about the campus and talking about her time at the university … Some web users claimed it was very similar to a 2014 Tokyo University video titled "Explorer," which stars a woman in a spacesuit saying how she pursued her dream. Both women wore helmets in the films, and took them off at the end. Both videos showed the women in school libraries and communicating with professors.

The promo has been pulled from the university's official accounts online and on social media, and the school is investigating, Shanghai Daily said. The university said it was inspired by the true story of a Fudan graduate who is a test flight engineer working for China Commercial Aircraft Corp. The deputy head of the school's publicity department, Teng Yudong, reportedly said his team had been inspired by the Tokyo university's video about one of its graduates who was an astronaut and apologized for having a "bad influence on our school's image."

The ad came just after Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina trashed Chinese innovation, saying the Chinese "are not terribly imaginative." Her comments were a big topic of discussion in China, and the Fudan promo video added to the debate.

On its web site, Fudan stresses its role in innovation, saying "the school has made outstanding contributions to the country by developing talent, innovating in science and technology, carrying forward civilization and serving society."

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