Friday, February 12, 2010

Did Coke Copy Its Super Bowl Ad From an Israeli Chocolate Milk Commercial?

One of the most popular TV commercials shown during last Sunday's Super Bowl game was Coca-Cola's depiction of a sleepwalker wandering through a desert landscape complete with wildlife, in search of a bottle of America's most popular drink.

Israelis watching the game couldn't help experiencing a strong sense of deja vu, because the ad was remarkably similar to one in Hebrew that has been running on Israeli TV for seven years.  But the Israeli version didn't advertise Coca-Cola.  It was a commercial for chocolate milk produced by Kibbutz Yotvata, which runs a very successful dairy business in Israel's Negev desert.

The whole affair could be attributed to coincidence, but the likelihood of two different commercials for two different products including a sleepwalker finding his way through a desert to reach a refrigerator containing the drink, while Ravel's Bolero is playing in the background, does stretch the imagination.

Reporting in The Jerusalem Post, Mark Rebacz writes:
According to Dr. Yaron Timmor, the head of the marketing communications program at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, ad copying is not a rare phenomenon. Many Israeli advertisements are partially or even overwhelmingly based on ideas from foreign ads, says Timmor.

But for an American ad from a company of the stature of Coca-Cola to be based on an Israeli ad would be “puzzling and strange,” he says.
“When a company is accused of copying ideas from an outside source, it attracts criticism from both the client and the public, who expect original and innovative ideas,” explains Timmor. “The need to copy usually stems from inferiority and a lack of creativity.”
Israel's Channel 2 covered this apparent copycat activity in a TV news story.  It's in Hebrew, but there are few English references and the content is pretty obvious even if your Hebrew is a little rusty.  Enjoy!
A tip of the kippa to Esther Kustanowitz for calling our attention to this story.

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