When Agencies Recycle

While surfing on welcome to optimism (W+K’s London blog), I found this great post about Cutwater – a San Fransisco agency that has had success for two videos for clients Ray Ban and Levi’s.

Each of the videos have over 3 million views on YouTube and by all measures, are huge, viral hits. That being said, Cutwater has executed the same idea for two different brands. The products are different but the execution and idea are exactly the same.

For an industry driven on unique and original ideas, what does this mean? All agencies are looking for success, especially in digital, but at what cost? If something works for one client, should we simply copy it outright and fit it too another? Maybe.

But to what extent? It’s one thing to reference the success your agency has had through new biz case studies and quite another to apply the same idea to another one of your own brands. Even if Dove evolution was successful, I don’t want to retrofit that idea to my new Tampon brand (awkward example but still…).

I can only imagine how this was sold to the clients. “Well,” says the cool creative director, “we had huge success with Ray Ban and sunglasses and we want to do the exact same thing for you…except with jeans.” The AD is happy about it – it worked before after all – why not for us? And the client? They don’t have to make any leaps…they asked for a viral video and why not use something that works?

Because it’s unoriginal. Because it’s not what you hire an agency for. Anyone could copy Whopper Freakout or Dove Evolution but we’re hired to think strategically about our brand, not someone else’s. I’m all for knowing what brands are succeeding in the space and learning about what strategies got them there. But let’s use those strategies to discover ideas that fit the brand, not the trend.

Ray Ban [Posted a year ago]:

Levi’s [Posted 4 weeks ago]:

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