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January 23, 2006

Apple Goes Does Postal

Apple's gone and done it again, right?  First the creative forces inside Apple deem it okay to allegedly copy an older Lugz commercial and pass it off as their own.  We've already talked about it here and I shrugged it off as a possible Collective Unconscious story - as it could be a possibility.  Then I went a bit further and tried to grasp at straws and talk about how this could have been some deeply planned marketing ploy.

Postal Now Apple has gone and released a new Intel commercial... that is an almost 100%, shot-for-shot, duplicate of the 'Such Great Heights' video for The Postal Service.  Is lightning going to strike twice?

At first, when viewers found out that the commercial was potentially a rip-off, people were a bit upset.  But those feelings quickly subsided when it was told that the same filmmakers made both the video and commercial, so then it was kinda okay.  Now Ben Gibbard, of The Postal Service, has released a statement on The Postal Service's official web site:

It has recently come to our attention that Apple Computers' new television commercial for the Intel chip features a shot-for-shot recreation of our video for 'Such Great Heights' made by the same filmmakers responsible for the original. We did not approve this commercialization and are extremely disappointed with both parties that this was executed without our consultation or consent. - Ben Gibbard, The Postal Service

Oddly enough, days after fingers started flying in Apple's direction, The Postal Service video (the one immersed in the controversy) magically appeared on the iTMS and was promoted on the front page of the site in one of the big three rotating banners at the top of the page.  And now, when viewing the most popular music videos, guess who's number one... that's right, The Postal Service (coincidentally, Eminem is number two with a video from his Greatest Hits cd).

I don't think that Apple is copying people. I think Apple, and the other parties, are planning these "altercations" out and allowing the media, bloggers and whoever else to create the buzz for them.  In both cases, the commercials weren't pulled off the air like they probably should be if there's concern for a lawsuit or further damage to a brand's reputation.


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I just saw this on AdFreak. I'm defenitly siding with the theory that Chiat/Day is too smart to be making all of these "mistakes" regarding the apple snafu's. And thus all these 'controversy's' are part of something much bigger, as you can tell by Postal Service video on iTunes going to number 1.


I agree with Seth and AdFreak. Chiat/Day is too smart and they must be doing this to get all the free PR. It just doesn't make any sense otherwise.

In this case, it's clearly not a coincidence. As to the reasons why? Well, that's less clear. Neither Apple nor TBWA needs to resort to this for buzz. My two cents: If it was intentional I'd suggest they cut it out. It goes against the whole think different brand. If it's not intentional, then they have got to get their collective act together.

JJ, thanks for the email shout. As to this...Yeah, um. I'm trying to imagine Lee Clow being pitched a concept wherein both agency and client get roundly accused of creative larceny.

Man, now THAT is thinking different.

Maybe this is all just some uber-creative, channel-agnostic, nontraditional cross promotional thing. But if you ask me, it sure quacks like a duck...

Right JJ, that's what doesn't make sense here. If it was unintentional, this might be how the conversation went:

Apple: "We need a new commercial for our Intel stuff. We're thinking people in a computer factory and stuff."

Filmmakers: "Uh, well, we JUST made something for a band exactly like that. So that's probably not a good idea."

Apple: "What's that? Sorry, my head was in a bucket for a minute. Anyway, we've got a million dollars for you if you can give us a story board in five minutes."

Filmmakers: (hmmmm, maybe no one will notice) Deal!

when I first read it, it was that the commercials music and video were shot for shot rip-offs of "The Postal Service" video and neither is the case the music is different and the commercial has some simular shots but not in the same order - I'm sure if you looked at most commercials that include cleanrooms you'll see simular shots. I think this is "the Postal Service" seeing what they want to see. If you look at the videos side by side there are several shots that aren't anywhere in "The Postal Service" video at all.

the saga continues... check this out:

In the itunes version of the PS video, the "Skyworks" company name is blurred out

This has GOT TO BE intententional. I can't believe they actual used the same clips from the video. You can't buy this kind of attention/buzz. Either Chiat is lazy as hell or smarter than we thought. What's your take?

I wish I knew the truth, but I guess it doesn't matter if it was intentional or not. Either way, it's pretty evil. So is it more evil to recycle ideas (to put it diplomatically) without consent, or to pretend to recycle ideas for the sake of publicity?

Both are lies. Both are belittling the intelligence of their audience.

Anyone interested in Chiat's recent flirtations with plagiarism should check this out too:


It's a pretty recent ad for the PSP, the concept of which was borrowed from the Spike Jonze-directed Girl Skateboard Co. video "Yeah Right."

OK, I have this all figured out. I epiphanized while listening to the latest engadget podcast.

I do not believe this to be a case of laziness and/or strategic plagarism, but merely creative cross-pollination.

Apple + Chiat/Day needs a new commercial to introduce the Intel iMac. Do you pick the hip director duo that has clean room footage on their reel? Of course you do, maybe their reel even influences the content of the spot.

Then when it comes time to shoot the directors know how to set the shot, after all they have done this before. And like Tim said above, they aren't dumb enough to go sequential shot for shot, but there are only so many interesting perspectives in a clean room.

Fast forward some time later and The Postal Service + Sub Pop raise a bit of a fuss about the similarites. To quell their arguments Apple offers some prime realestate on the iTMS cheap/free.

Case Closed.

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