Quorn has reached a financial settlement with an animator who accused its latest ad of being a ‘blatant rip-off’ of one of his best-known videos.
The meat-free brand launched its UniQuorn vegan unicorn-shaped nuggets on Tuesday with a social media campaign across Twitter and Facebook.
The brand was swiftly hit with accusations of plagiarism when a posted video marketing the NPD quickly drew comparisons to a 2003 animated meme – known as Badger Badger Badger or The Badger Song, by animator Jonti Picking.
Picking claimed Quorn’s ad was “a blatant ripping off of my copyrighted work” in a tweet which has been liked 100 more times than Quorn’s own.
Commercial representatives for Picking and Quorn shared a joint statement with The Grocer on Wednesday night to confirm that: “Following some positive discussions Jonti has agreed to collaborate on a revised version of the UniQuorns film, produced under licence, which Quorn acknowledge is what should have happened in the first place”.
Picking’s agent added that the fee for the work would also cover “damages”. The value of the total fee was not disclosed.
In Quorn’s UniQuorn video, animated cartoon unicorns pop up to a song featuring the repetitive phrase ‘Nicorn’, before cutting to a cartoon mushroom when the lyrics change to ‘mushroom, mushroom’.
In Picking’s original Flash animated video, cartoon badgers pop up to a song featuring the repetitive phrase ‘badger’, before cutting to a cartoon mushroom when the lyrics change to ‘mushroom, mushroom’.
The majority of responses to Quorn’s post noted the similarities between the animations.
One viewer tweeted: “Shameless rip-off. See you in quort!”. A commenter on Quorn’s Facebook page wrote: “If you’re going to rip off one of the most iconic web animations in history without permission, at least have the decency to ensure it’s not utter dog s***.”
The Badger Song was a hugely popular internet meme nearly two decades ago, with PC World in 2009 listing it as “one of the top five internet fads of all time”.
Picking – creator of MTV animated series Weebl & Bob – said that: “Just because it’s on the web or a meme doesn’t mean you can use it commercially. If ‘creative’ is in your job title you should know this.”
Following the social media backlash, on Wednesday, Quorn replied to Picking’s accusation on Twitter saying it was “HUGE fans of yours” and that his “iconic” Badger song had “been stuck in our head since 2003”.
A spokeswoman for Quorn told The Grocer: “While our social media team was of course inspired by the Badger Badger Mushroom video on YouTube, the creator Jonti Picking was not involved in making our ad for UniQuorns.
“We are now in positive and amicable discussions, and confident of quickly resolving the issue,” she added.
Quorn’s video was produced by Leeds-based creative agency Ponderosa, which has worked with Maxibon, Mighty Pea, Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer and The Real Yorkshire Pudding Company. It is understood Ponderosa will be footing the bill for Quorn’s financial settlement with Picking. Ponderosa did not want to comment beyond the joint statement by Quorn and Picking.
The UniQuorns launch is part of a slew of NPD from the brand this week.
“We have had a flurry of consumer demand for a unicorn-shaped product so we’re really excited to be delivering another delicious new product launch that’s going to help drive the category forward,” said Gill Riley, marketing director at Quorn Foods UK.
The new frozen product will join the brand’s Roarsomes vegan nuggets, which were launched last year as part of a maiden bid by Quorn to appeal to children, and also feature in the now-controversial ad.
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