Rebel sport is copping social media flack after similarities were drawn between its #thanksdad campaign and a viral Mother’s Day ad to raise awareness of refugee mums in detention centres.
Rebel Sports have denied any similarities between the company’s Father’s Day campaign and a joint Mother’s Day campaign by a Mums 4 Refugees, a group raising awareness for asylum seekers and digital advocacy group People Like Us.
See if you can spot the similarities:
The 30 second Father’s Day ad features Australian sports stars including Tim Cahill, Jessica Fox, Anthony Minichiello and Michael Slater talking about why dads are the best.
— Rebel Sport (@rebelsport) August 26, 2015
The ad looks eerily similar to a Mother’s Day campaign which went viral earlier this year:
Mums 4 Refugees & People Like Us
Siobhán Costigan, co-Producer and co-writer/director of the campaign and co-owner of People Like Us, told B&T about the controversy.
“Watching the Rebel Sport ad for the first time left us with a very strong feeling of déjá vu. The overall concept, the wording of the script and the way the ad’s been shot are so similar to our Mother’s Day film that it’s hard to believe the similarities are purely coincidental.
“Neither of our organisations have been approached by anyone from Rebel. They have received a number of comments and complaints via their Facebook page (and, we understand, from members of the public contacting their head office), and have been copying and pasting the same response to every comment. They explained that their campaign was created with the intention of “celebrating the role fathers play in the lives of athletes”, but haven’t addressed the actual issue, which is one of possible appropriation.
“Personally, I think Rebel could go one of two ways now – they can continue to ignore their customers who object to the apparent appropriation of a film made to draw attention to a serious human rights issue, or they can take this feedback on board and turn it around into something positive. Both People Like Us and Mums 4 Refugees would love to see Rebel make a donation of sporting goods to asylum seekers and refugees, for example. I think this would be an act of goodwill that would see a favourable outcome for everyone concerned.”
Rebel has rejected claims it copied the ad, providing a statement to B&T.
“Rebel is very disappointed at any suggestion that its current Father’s Day television commercial was based on that of Mums4Refugees Mother’s Day campaign.
“Until we received comments on our Facebook page bringing these claims to our attention, we had not seen the Mums4Refugees campaign. The creative for our Father’s day TVC was originally developed in April 2014, but we couldn’t get the TVC live until this year due to some internal production changes. Production subsequently began in March of this year.
“Creatively the montage style we used in the campaign is quite common and widely used and the sentiment expressed at Father’s Day and Mother’s Day has obvious similarities worldwide.
“We appreciate that members of Mums4Refugees are passionate about their cause; however, we are also passionate about our business and about our track record as a good and ethical corporate citizen.
“At a group level, we support a number of charitable organisations and raise funds for worthwhile causes including children’s charities, natural disaster responses and community safety. Our customers and team members also contribute individually to these causes.
“We have the utmost respect for other organisations’ intellectual property at all times and are saddened to have been the subject of these allegations.”
Costigan said big companies poaching ideas from smaller ideas houses is a large problem within the digital sphere. “I think it’s something that appears to be happening with increasing frequency. On the flipside, it’s also harder for agencies to get away with creative appropriation, especially if something’s already gone viral. It only takes one or two people to recognise a campaign idea on social media and draw other people’s attention to it and things can snowball very quickly.”