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July 19, 2007

Plagiarism is in the eye of the beholder.

Anyone who reads this blog likely knows the unwritten rules of applying creativity to sell a product, service or idea. Thesingingbeejoey

One of the greatest sins? Intentionally ripping off an idea from another creative. In fact, it's considered grounds for excommunication from the creative tribe. Not just because it is wrong but also because it speaks volumes about your opinion of your own talent.

ImagesAs the lines between entertainment and advertising blur, however, it seems our tribe may have some trouble adjusting to the culture of the networks and Hollywood where straight out rip-offs don't seem to carry the same stigma.

The most recent case in point: Don't Forget the Lyrics on Fox and The Singing Bee on NBC. One of many cases of network duplication including Trading Spouses vs. Wife Swap and Super Nanny vs. Nanny 911.

We've talked before about the collective unconsciousness. Two creative teams working half a country apart on poorly differentiated brands can and do arrive at similar conclusions. It happens. That doesn't stop the whispers and disapproving looks. Even, uh, borrowing elements from other parts of the popular culture can be frowned upon i.e. the kerfuffle about the origin of the look of the iPod spots.

How is it that something so taboo on the advertising side is so out-and-out blatant on the content side?

Maybe it's that TV shows aren't viewed as ideas but rather as competing products.


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I think part of it is that often TV and film producers pitch ideas to several networks. So when one network picks up on it several others may know about the concept already. If it looks like the concept is gaining momentum, then they can hastily put together a "me too" project.

Creativity often ranges from homages to outright thievery, but I too hate it when Hollywood or Madison avenue crosses the gray line.

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