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Advertising Integrity and 'So God Made a Farmer'
By: Brian Perry
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In this blog last week, I discussed the Dodge Ram, Paul Harvey “So God Made a Farmer” ad. I received an email response from a former colleague of mine saying that the Dodge Ram spot was actually done before but in a different way by another company three years prior. In looking at the spot that was produced three years ago, I began to wonder which, if any, spots are original anymore. Does it even matter if it is original if it sells a brand or product? This started me thinking about advertising integrity. This may be a term that isn’t in our advertising vocabulary, but I think it needs to be something more agencies are mindful of. The point of this blog post is not to be controversial, it is meant to keep all those in advertising thinking about how they use other ideas.

In school, plagiarism can take many forms. Plagiarism can be taking an idea verbatim for your own gain. Plagiarism is also paraphrasing a key point from someone’s article or research paper without giving proper credit. Is the student that uses a key point from a research paper and then changes a couple of words credible? The student isn’t credible unless they cite the source they are using. The same can be said for an agency that takes an existing spot and spins it for a new “fresh” idea for their client. Is this a credible agency? I know this is like comparing apples to oranges, but stick with me, because there is a point coming.

To be fair, there is a plethora of spots that run all over the world. It may be impossible to have a totally new, original idea. However, the key is for agencies to do their due diligence in researching ideas when forming potential creative. Now, I have to say that in my career I have seen creative and account teams work together to minimize this type of issue. Usually, the idea will be flushed out many times to determine if anything else has been done with a similar execution. If there is a parallel to another spot, the teams will try and figure out a way to make it unique and differentiate it from the original source idea. When presenting the idea to the client, the team will say up front that this is an idea they took from an old piece of creative. This is to make the client aware of what is being recommended and to give full disclosure on the off chance that someone claims that they ripped off older creative.

Advertising integrity can have an influence on the way consumers view a brand. As I talked about last week, the key to any good piece of creative is to have consumers talking about your brand. This is where the challenge for agencies lies; execute fresh, original creative that keeps people talking about the brand. Get the consumers talking about your brand and why it is so unique, instead of trying to be like everyone else.


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About the Author
Brian Perry is an accomplished communications professional with expertise in all aspects of successful marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions, and social media. Brian's outside interests consist of Hockey, Lacrosse, Insanity (basically any type of sport), books, and family time. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter
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