Honda 'cog' ad at centre of rip-off debate over 1987 film

LONDON - Two Swiss artists are considering legal action against the ground-breaking two-minute-long Honda 'cog' ad, complaining that it bears similarities to a 1987 short film.

According to a story in Creative Review, Peter Fischli and David Weiss are concerned that the "cog" ad, created by Wieden+Kennedy London, bears a resemblance to their film 'Der Lauf Der Dinge'.

The pair have had their lawyers write to Honda, saying that they are considering legal action against the car company. Fischli and Weiss's 30-minute film shows a series of domino events in their studio and is well known in the arts community.

Honda's "cog" ad has been lauded in the marketing press for its creativity and technical prowess. It shows various car parts in a domino effect and runs for two minutes without any soundtrack, finishing with a voiceover by the broadcaster and author Garrison Keillor, who says: "Isn't it nice when things just work".

The ad is widely tipped to pick up several awards for the creatives who worked on the ad, Ben Walker and Matt Gooden. It was directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet at Partizan.

W&K's creative director Tony Davidson has told Creative Review that Fischli and Weiss's film 'Der Lauf Der Dinge' was only one of the inspirations for the ad and argued: "Advertising references culture and always has done."

The spat echoes a dispute between Guinness and a filmmaker, Mehdi Norowzian, who claimed that the brewing giant's 1995 dancing ad ripped off a short film he had made.

Despite marked similarities between the Guinness spot, created by Dublin agency Ark, and Norowzian's film, the court ruled against the filmmaker, who ended up liable for costs.

Another artist, the Turner Prize-winning Gillian Turner, threatened to sue BMP DDB and Volkswagen over an ad she said ripped off her "signs" work.

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