There had been a robbery at the studio of Sagmeister & Walsh and it was all captured on camera. CR had the story. Except we didn’t and there was no robbery. It was all an elaborate hoax
On Friday last week what appeared to be a page from the CR website carried a story on what appeared to be a robbery at the New York design studio Sagmeister & Walsh. The studio is well known for its home page which features a live webcam of the space. In the story, it looked as though the web cam had picked up some masked intruders removing various items from the space. Sagmeister & Walsh tweeted that “We are deeply saddened by this loss. Next time take the printer” with a link to the story.
Except that something was wrong. The URL on the story was not one of ours and was from the wrong domain. The ‘intruders’ were suspiciously well-dressed.
In fact, the whole thing was a (very) elaborate hoax perpetrated by Barcelona-based creative studio achos. Once we’d calmed down, we spoke to them about how (and why) they did it.
“We’ve been huge admirers of the work of Sagmeister & Walsh since we were students,” they say. “The idea for the ‘robbery’ had been in our heads for a long time. We wanted to demonstrate that we’re young, we’re hungry, and we’re coming to take the work that’s currently going to the top agencies in the world. We thought going into their studio and stealing their work was a good declaration of our intentions. So we went into their studio and stole their work.”
The stunt is part of a wider campaign by achos with the hashtag #creathieves, which they describe as “a concept that sums up our ways of thinking and doing. We are the generation of the future. There’s no shortage of new and eager creative people coming out with new ideas, new things to talk about. Sooner or later, this younger generation will end up ‘stealing’ the work, so to speak, of the industry giants of today. We collaborate with a platform called FIU that helps to give new and talented creatives an opportunity to showcase their work. #creathieves is a movement of all of these people who are new today, and who’ll be giants of the sector tomorrow.”
So, how did they create such a convincing looking video of the Sagmeister & Walsh studio? “We looked for a space with similar proportions to their studio, and then we began to reconstruct the scene of the crime,” achos say. “We shot a video recreating a robbery and kept the best frames. With a bit of photo editing and a lot of patience, we’d managed to get into the studio of Sagmeister & Walsh without ever leaving our homes!”
And for our website? “We bought a similar and believable domain [ownership of which they have since transferred to CR], checked out the web’s code, and copied the design. We studied some of your articles to stay loyal to the structure, chose the photos, redesigned the banners, and wrote our copy for the news.” Te page even had working links to genuine CR stories on the real website.
“We’d like to ask you to please excuse us for stealing the blog, and to say how much we appreciate your understanding and for this interview. We knew we could rob Sagmeister & Walsh, but we couldn’t have imagined that we would have an interview with CreativeReview, so thank you very much for that.”
Were they worried about the reaction? “Yes and no. At times we even started to think that we could anger the people at Sagmeister & Walsh, or that you folks could take some kind of action against us for making a fake version of your web. But there was no maliciousness, and the idea was worth the risk.”
“One of the things we were most worried (and also excited) about was giving the “Work” banner back to Jessica during the conference she was speaking at during Sitges Next, outside of Barcelona. It was two days since we had launched the article, and we were pretty nervous, didn’t want to miss our opportunity. But we didn’t know how she was going to react.
“Luckily, everything went well [see above, Jessica Walsh in centre]. We never got in contact with Sagmeister & Walsh beforehand or anything like that. We just decided to share the news on Facebook and Twitter, and they demonstrated a great sense of humor when they tweeted the link to our article. That really helped make the news more credible to people and media who followed this story. And Jessica ended up being amazing about the whole thing, bursting out laughing with us after she realized what we were handing her. She was wonderful. So from here we give them our thanks, and also thank you to everyone at (the real) Creative Review.”
More on achos here