Sony Bravia’s Bunnies – A Rip Off? You Tell Me.

sony bravia bunnies controversy

So, like many bloggers this morning, I came across this wonderful ad and was simply going to post it as follows: “Fabulous new stop-motion animation with Clay Bunnies for Sony’s Bravia tv.” But alas, there’s some Sony Bravia Bunnies Controversy.

Sony Bravia Bunnies Controversy

And, of course, the making of:

And then the controversy began. At first I thought that the post on Gizmodo was an overreaction.

Given that I’m an Advertising Creative/Art Director, I was ready to defend creatives in the business for often using artists as their source of “inspiration”. Something that has been happening in all art forms for centuries.

After all, Kozyndan’s work is clearly inspired by Hokusai, so why can’t Fallon London be inspired by Kozyndan?

Kozyndan’s Bunny Tsunami (aka Uprisings)
kokusai the great wave color woodblock print
Hokusai’s The Great Wave

Given that this is not Sony Bravia’s first spot to use lots of colorful animation as a metaphor for a good color television, and that Kozyndan works in a static medium and this is tv, I thought maybe they initially intended to use Kozyndan as the actual animator (which, perhaps is why they requested samples of his work).

After all, I could see the process happening as such. But then decided that ‘illustration’ wasn’t a good enough metaphor for high def TV, so they decided to go with stop motion animation. This is all an educated guess from my having sat through hundreds of pre-production meetings.

But then the ugly comments began to appear. And frankly, I’m not sure how I feel now. Do you think the spot should have credited Kozydan? Do you think it should say “Inspired by Kozydan”? but then should it really say “Inspired by Kozydan, who was inspired By Hokusai”?

First, from Gizmodo:
Sony Bastards Ripped Off the Bunny Tsunami Ad
What the Hell. When I saw this morning’s post on the awesome Sony Bravia Bunny Ad, featuring multi-hued rabbits climbing through a cityscape transforming into a tidalwave, I assumed it was the work of my favorite artists, the LA-based Kozyndan. By my front door, I have a framed print of one of their limited edition NYC bunny panoramics, which I’ve put below.

Aside from this, they’re probably best known for reworking of Hokusai’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa” with bunnies inserted in the place of the white wash, which was featured on a Giant Robot magazine cover. I was only half right about kozyndan’s involvement with this Sony project, unfortunately. They were robbed: For pretty damning proof, watch the video (at the top of this post), and read on.

Apparently, the Passion Pictures animation studio ripped off Kozyndan’s after requesting samples of their work and never called them back. Dan just wrote me an email about it to confirm that this is pretty much the story, at least from their side. I hear this happens often in advertising, but that doesn’t make it fucking right. I guess it’s not Sony’s fault, but they should at least get their money back or get Passion Pictures to give a fair chunk to the artists. I’m pissed and not sure what I, or anyone else can do about it. Thoughts?
[Passion Pictures vs KozyNDan]

Then from Core77:
Will the Real Bunnies Please Stand Up?
Posted by: Michael Doyle on Friday, October 05 2007

Why does that new Bravia ad look so familiar? Oh, right… KozyNDan did it years ago.

Here’s what they say: It’s hard to think that people at Passion Pictures did not have this early panoramic of ours in mind when they created this new spot for the SONY Bravia line.

To add insult to injury, someone from Passion Pictures contacted us almost two years ago asking to see samples of our work (including this panoramic) as they were interested in working with us. We sent them samples and then heard nothing from them ever again. (It should be noted though, that the more likely culprit is the ad firm who hired Passion Pictures, Fallon.) Still, it’s a clever ad.

above: The original Bunny Tsunami aka Uprisings for Giant Robot

It’s not like KozyNDan are so outside of mainstream media that nobody would eventually notice. I still love the ad, but this certainly takes some of the magic away. I’ve seen it happen so many times at big agencies – there is little regard for the line between inspiration and flat-out plagiarism, and often a complete lack of conscience or even understanding why it’s wrong. (Some people call it “business”, but psychiatrists call this kind of behavior “psychopathy”.)

And here are some comments from Kozyndan

So, what do you think?

Credits for Sony Bravia Play-Doh
Credits Title: Play-Doh
Client: Sony Bravia
Ad agency: Fallon, London
Creative director: Juan Cabral
Executive creative director: Richard Flintham
Agency producer: Nicky Barnes
Account director: Ben Cyzer
Director: Frank Budgen
Production company: Gorgeous Enterprises
Producer: Rupert Smythe
Song: Rolling Stones, She’s Like A Rainbow