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Colgate finds Close-Up ad too up, close, and plagiarised

27-March-2004
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Colgate finds Close-Up ad too up, close, and plagiarised

Inspiration is nothing new to the advertising world. But when two agencies are inspired by the same idea and release similiar advertisements with a gap of four months, what do you call it?

October last year, Rediffusion DYR ran an advertisement for Colgate Dental Cream, the basic theme of which was that a perfect figure had to be complemented by a perfect set of 32 teeth.

The visual for the ad ran thus: 32-36-24-36 in a straight horizontal line. That ad ran for around a month and was inserted in some niche magazines such as Femina since it was targeted at a select audience.

Four months later, on March 8, 2004 (which was International Women’s Day) Ogilvy & Mather runs an ad for Close-Up (Hindustan Lever) and the basic theme is the same - a perfect set of teeth with a perfect figure, only this time the figures ran from the bottom to the top. This ad appeared in the Mumbai edition of the Asian Age.

Pushpendra Singh, senior creative director, O&M, said, “The ads are the same.” He, however, said it was pure coincidence and they had no prior knowledge of the Colgate ad.

Singh said that they knew of the latter ad only when it won a Silver at the Abby Awards function held on Saturday last week. “If we had wanted to copy, he pointed out, we would not have done it from our neighbourhood and not so blatantly. We would at least have tried to disguise it,” he said.

Preet Bedi, president, Rediffusion said, “We will be unable to run our ad now since it will seem like we are copying them. “ Incidentally, Bedi is planning to move ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India), the apex body for advertising professionals. Singh said that they would reply appropriately to ASCI.

A spokesman for Hindustan Lever said, “Neither Hindustan Llever, nor O&M, the agency for Close-Up were aware of an ad, on a similar theme by Colgate. The similarity is purely coincidental. Had HLL or the agency been aware of a similiar ad, the Close-Up ad would definitely not have been conceived in the first place.” He further added that the ad had been created only for the Mumbai edition of the Asian Age.

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