Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

Was Panda Cheese’s award-winning viral ad campaign stolen from another commercial?

Panda cheese came out with a successful advertising campaign that consists of about five commercials. The videos are on YouTube and have already received a couple of million views combined in a matter of a few days. In fact, they were handed awards from Cannes Lions.

And why wouldn’t they? The idea is courageous, some might even argue too bold (hence giving it even more value), and relatively unorthodox. They’re simply hilarious.


All five ads back-to-back

The campaign was created by Advantage Marketing & Advertising (who are understandably ecstatic with the award). Not only has the campaign snow-balled before the general YouTube crowd, it was actually featured by one of the most influential YouTube celebrities of all time, Ray William Johnson.


=3 reviews three viral videos, Panda’s ad is the last one

This is it! Egypt’s on the Social Media map! It’s refreshing, and indeed liberating, to see us break free from the self-imposed limits of lame, traditional marketing. It’s fantastic to conquer new territory, explore new terrains. It’s an inspiration to millions attempting to make it to the international scene.

Unfortunately, it has been brought to the attention of the social media enthusiasts in Egypt that there was a series of commercials that were released to the public as early as January of this year that consisted of many of the same elements that were showcased by the dairy producer:


You can watch the entire campaign by searching ‘Bruins Hockey Rules’ in YouTube

A coincidence? Possibly, but tough to swallow. Let’s recognize that besides the romantic music that kicks in as the crowd stares at the panda, the plot and storyboard are almost identical. Incidentally, the Bruins Hockey Rules campaign was not as viral (in terms of YouTube views, TV appearances is a different story).

If we were to assume that it was indeed very heavily influenced by the hockey team’s campaign, then it’s undoubtedly a heart-breaking drama. And it’s not solely about the ethics (or lack of) involved, it’s the crushing disappointment to many Egyptians and social media addicts throughout the entire Arab world that have long awaited the knight that would save the day, and be the change we want to see in our world. Why is it that, when we finally make it big, it has to be via borderline illegal approaches?

In all cases, let’s not take it all away from Panda and co. At least they were able to create a buzz, and perhaps spark enthusiasm to everyone around, inspiring them to express, produce, and share. Let it be but a bump on the road to web success.

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16 comments

Francesca

September 29, 2010

Ancient Romans used to say: “nulla novum sub sole”… it’s too difficult, almost impossible, to invent something completely new… but it doesn’t mean we have to plagiarize in order to succeed!

Kafafi

September 29, 2010

shocker! if indeed the idea was simply copied/tailored, at least it was a huge hit here in Egypt which proves that we accept that sort of “unorthodox” humor. just imagine that instead the panda would be prancing around with a tabla singing an arabic version of “boom boom gebna”, kefaya!

taha

September 30, 2010

what about these mo’men ads? wonder why they never caught on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXunBZ_768E

(they also have a series)

mo’men ad that i think has a few things going for it. i’m a fan of the “old style” advertising, with the handwritten text, the scroll – and then the motto that they’re not into ads – they’re into sandwiches is good.

ps. that ray william johnson video is pretty awful

Tarek Shalaby

September 30, 2010

@Francesca: Very true. I’m a strong believer that everything comes from something. You have to be inspired to create, and we should all learn from each other, and work together. We’ll see how things develop from here.

@Kafafi: LOL! I could imagine the ad you’re talking about, that’s so ghetto! But anyway, you’re right that there are a lot of positives from this. The most important of which is that fact that the Egyptian/Arab crowd is open to unorthodox ads, and we are creating viral content. I’m looking forward to the next big hit in Social Media from somewhere in the Arab world.

@taha: Why do you think the =3 video is awful? I’m personally a huge fan, and the guy receives at least 3 million views on each episode (and there are two a week). I’d be interested to know why you don’t like it.

If anyone knew why videos went viral, it would no longer work. The beauty of viral content in social media is that it’s the people who choose, and it’s very difficult to influence their decision. Therefore, you work hard, do your best, and the people will reward you accordingly.

I personally think the Mo’men ad is alright, but I can understand that it’s not funny/entertaining to the extent of going viral. Don’t forget that Egypt has no more than 22% of its population on the web (less than 20 million). How many of them are comfortable with the different tools? YouTube? How many are interested in exploring new content?

We’re still scratching the surface, but it’s growing, exponentially.

Hoda

September 30, 2010

Tarek,
This is most disgusting attitude you should have when the world is talking about Egypt positively for the first time since the sphinx and you try to bring down down your fellow advertising gurus like Advantage just because you and others in the whole middle east region are not able to achieve the same. Let me remind you of a Simple Fact: The jury at Cannes is composed of 9 jurors form the best and most senior advertising people from around the world of which three where form the US where the bruins campaign you refer to was created by an American agency which were the first to congratulate Advantage on their win. Cannes judges creativity based on novelty of the idea and they (the Experts) have have made their decision that Panda is A NEW and different form Bruins even though execution wise (in direction) I might agree with you that they might be close but for sophisticated advertising gurus the idea is Judged to be completely different this Fact alone should shut every jealous person’s mouth. Bruin is idea is more Like Birel ” Be a Man” Panda is can’t say no to such product. Do’t you see the difference as much as you the similarities. That is why panda has become such a global hit over night even more than bruins did. ALL these people are not idiots more than half are American who have seen bruins campaign. Stop being an enemy of success like most Egyptians are and try to learn to congratulate others when the succeed and bring fame to your country in a way that whole region has never seen before. Egyptian TV Panda was featured in the USA TV News in the following link and UK’s most famous Sun News paper and you are trying to inject doubts in minds of people. It all because of us Egyptians refusing to accept that we are as good or better than others. I am a competitor of Advantage but I can only congratulate them for what they have achieved for themselves, their client , their country. So STOP being jealous and check the links below to see what millions around the world think of the world class campaign Egypt has given as gift to the world!!!!

Amr

September 30, 2010

Hoda,

To be honest, I admit that I am not sure whether your comment is a sarcastic one or not. If it is sarcastic as most probably it is, then I applaud you, because it’s funny as hell.

But just in case, to point out the brilliance in some of your statements to those who do not understand sarcasm here are some points.

1. Saying that Panda adverts are the first time people are talking positively about Egypt since the Sphinx: It seems that there is an underlying assumption that only half animal – half humans are considered an achievement. The Sphinx being half lion half man, and the panda being an animal but there is a human inside it. (I assume, maybe the brilliant staff actually trained a panda for this, I don’t know, I’m not an advertising guru). So naturally Sinai liberation, the High Dam, some Nobel Prizes and all this rubbish are not considered because they are not half animals.

2. I also like the genius in accusing Tarek of not being able to believe that Egyptians can produce anything good, therefore implying that he has an inferiority complex, while you yourself use the fact that the judges at Cannes were foreigners to say that they are not idiots.

3. I had no option but to laugh out loud when you mentioned the famous British Sun Newspaper. We all know that they are famous for their semi-nude models on Page 3, or they are more known, the Page 3 girls.

4. You attacked Tarek for being a jealous fellow advertiser, when he actually doesn’t do advertisement.

I am surprised that with such creative talent as yours it was not your agency that won the awards, but rather your competitors. Are you sure they did not steal these ideas from you?

Tarek Shalaby

September 30, 2010

Hoda,

You’re obviously directly affiliated with Advantage Advertising which completely destroys your credibility. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and reply nonetheless.

Even though I don’t want this to be personal (because it’s useless to do so), I can’t help but correct a few statements you made before addressing the issue at stake:

- “talking about Egypt positively for the first time since the sphinx” you MUST be joking, right? You CANNOT be comparing a possibly stolen video with a couple of millions views on a website with the achievements of an entire civilization! You obviously know how to read and write, so I’m surprised there’s a huge void between the Sphinx and a video published a few weeks ago

- Just because the judges are American doesn’t automatically mean they’ve seen the Bruins campaign. I’m Egyptian and I’ve seen it. And I’m sure there are many Egyptian commercials that I know nothing about

- ‘Experts’ is a dead term. WE own the web, and WE are the ones that make it viral and give it value. So it really doesn’t matter what a handful of guys in suits say when you have millions of people from all over the world deciding whether or not to make something of it

- Please don’t try to convince anyone that you are a competitor of Advantage Advertising. Please

You also seem to forget the following:

- I, along with many Egyptians, were extremely excited at first and very proud, but then were disappointed to come across the Bruins campaign

- No one has any reason to be jealous

- Much more important than TV in the US and the Sun newspaper (naked chicks aside), is featuring in =3 and going viral online. Its exposure is a measure of its success, and NOT of how much I, as an individual, should like it or enjoy it

Not to mention, all I did was present the different elements for people to decide. I fail to see anything ‘disgusting about it. So I guess your reaction goes to show that you’re frustrated to have been caught. Moreover, even though it seems highly likely to have been ripped off from another campaign, we were still able to get a lot of positives out of it.

Hoda

September 30, 2010

Amr and Tarek (probably the same),
if you are that naive to believe that actually Panda was the first good thing since Sphinx and that it was not a metaphor for ” Long time” in the English language then that is probably my fault that I used that it with you. When I referred to the Jury is not about foreigners or Egyptians it is about “knowledge” they hire these guys because they are seen as the best in the world from all countries not just the western one they scan the world of ads and you cant fool ALL Nine of them that simple .Think before you accuse people . Frankly why do not say the same for any court decision, Oh the Jude is an ignorant!!! Guys accept reality when things don’t go as you wish. It is not always the refree’s fault like you do in football. You jumped to a conclusion that I am affiliated with Advantage the same way you jumped to conclusion that ad is copied!!. No I work for another advertising agency but I know of people who work there and use my brain. Before you ost your gut feel conclusions and accusations of others, it would have been more professional to have contacted them or contacted Ali Ali the Creative director who created and directed the Campaign first and got us what they have to say about it? and why than more than 5 million viewers and fans are so crazy about panda creating the “pandamonium” on line who did not do the same for Bruins. By the way Both were TV spots that went viral afterwards you information is all wrong, pathetic!!!

Amr

October 1, 2010

Hoda,

Panda creating the “pandamonium” ?!! That’s very cheesy.

I find it very difficult to take you seriously. I honestly feel sorry for the advertising agency involved because they have you as a friend. After all, an intelligent enemy is better than, to put it lightly, a not-very-intelligent friend.

Azure

May 23, 2011

I’m Canadian and never knew about the Bruins commercials. I just happened upon the Panda commercials on youtube. After reading this and then watching the Bruins commercials I have to agree that Panda was sampled BUT they did it better. The Bruins didn’t make me laugh like Panda did. As for Hoda well he just prove that ignorance abounds aplenty on the internet. Any fool with an internet connection feels that he can say anything he wants lol. There is nothing damaging being said in this blog. Something is just being pointed out. It doesn’t matter if they sampled because people do it all the time all over the world. Most of todays music is sampled. Hoda seems to be the only one with issues.

Hoda

Dude you need to chill. You seem to have some underlying personal issues that nobody on here can help you with. You need to seek professional help ;)

Dynomoose

July 17, 2011

I’m not in the advertising business and I’m not Egyptian. But I did watch a whole slew of the Bruins Rules ads and the Panda ads and don’t think that they’re all that similar. I say good job to both advertising companies for making funny, catchy ads.

Mike Wofsey

August 28, 2011

I’m a Bruins fan (not as much as an Avs, fan, but I do like the Bruins) and I loved the Bruins Bear commercial for a very long time.

When I saw the Panda Cheese commercial I didn’t think of the Bruins Bear, it struck me as unique. Yes, there are similarities, but the sweet gaze of the Panda before he punishes his offenders and the 1920-inspired heart-string melody is perhaps the most salient point of these commercials, and it is wonderfully original.

Were the Panda Cheese adverts influenced by the Bruins Rule commercials? Maybe, I sure hope so, both the Panda and Bruins commercials are wonderful creative. But Panda brings much new emotion to their device.

derp

September 22, 2011

Similar, but not enough to claim they were copied.

It seems the only complaint is that they used an agry bear in both series. The bruins ones are not nearly as effective or amusing.

Cover Me, Porkins

October 27, 2011

If anything, the Panda Cheese commercials took the concept and refined it with actors who know how to do slapstick — unlike the Bruins spots, they’re actually funny.

mike

November 21, 2011

Interesting article- even though these ideas are similiar, good ideas sometimes just seem to be in the air. I even had a friend who drew a cartoon for fun back in the 90′s called The Elevator Bear; it had the same concept of random type humor as these great commercials. Cheers for the deep appreciation of creativity, excellence, and unpredictability that is universally shared among all people.

Melkiades

February 9, 2013

This should be enough to shut all you ignorants off:

“Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It holds tight an author’s phrase, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, and replaces it with just the right idea.”

Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse), Poésies II (1870).

“Ideas improve. The meaning of words plays a role in that improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress depends on it. It sticks close to an author’s phrasing, exploits his expressions, deletes a false idea, replaces it with the right one.”

Guy Debord, Thesis 207 of The Society of the Spectacle (1967)

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