Passion Pictures MD, Andrew Ruhemann has strenuously denied that his production company “ripped off” LA illustrators Kozyndan over Play-Doh, the new Sony Bravia commercial. In a phone call to Creative Review today, Ruhemann says of the Kozyndan work (detail shown above), “Nobody here ever saw it. It never formed part of the reference material and no-one from Gorgeous or Fallon showed it to us.”
The controversy over Play-Doh surfaced late last week when Kozyndan contacted a number of websites, including this one, to point out the similarities between one of their panoramic paintings from 2002 and the new ad. “Strange that someone from Passion Pictures contacted us about a year 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,” they said.
The Sony ad in question
In a follow-up email to CR, Kozyndan’s Dan said, “All the panoramics we’d completed up till that time were sent, as well as the bunny wave image (above) and other works. I personally do not know if the two are really related. Passion is a big company and there is a gap between our sending our work to Passion, and the production of this ad. We never heard from them again, and we had completely forgotten that ever happened (this is a common thing in the commercial world, no?), but my memory was piqued when I found out that it was Passion who did the production on the spot.”
“One of our scouts did contact them three years ago for, I believe, a Microsoft project,” confirms Ruhemann, “but she has now left the company and we don’t keep pitch material, certainly not from three years ago. [The Kozyndan image] is very close but, hand-on-heart we didn’t copy it. We don’t operate like that, we work with a lot of artists and we never rip them off, we’ve been ripped off too many times ourselves to ever let that happen.”
“I can see how they might feel aggrieved,” says Ruhemann, “and I’ve been trying to contact them. But [Animation director] Darren Walsh designed those bunnies in his back garden.”
Update 9/10: According to The Guardian, Fallon, Sony and Passion have issued the following joint statement: “There is suggestion that there is a similarity between an illustration by Kozyndan and the new Sony BRAVIA ‘Play-Doh’ advert . Sony would like to stress that the advert conception, creative and final animation is not based on any pre-existing artwork. Sony Europe, its agency Fallon, production company Gorgeous, and animation company Passion Pictures, assert that the wave, whale and bunnies were arrived at without reference to these artists. In the original script, the rabbits were one of many creatures to cavort around a cityscape. In fact, the location was only finalised shortly before the shoot. The final creative, led by Juan Cabral at Fallon and director Frank Budgen at Gorgeous, was chosen to champion the brand and best reflect ‘colour.like.no.other’. Sony enjoys working with experienced and talented creatives and all involvement in a campaign is always credited.”