Banner Blog: Where banners click
We're looking for a sponsor or advertisers
AboutIndustry NewsSubmitArchives and RSSSubscribeContactFollow us on TwitterJoin us on Facebook
« June 2007 | Main | Archives | August 2007 »

Virgin Mobile + Flickr = Lawsuit? (Flickrgate)


Virgin Mobiles latest campaign Are you with us or What which covered press, outdoor and online has been using photos from Flickr that were under an attribution creative common license. So as long as you credit the photographer you can use the photo for free for any use. Sweet deal for the agency as photographers can be expensive. Damn if only Herb Ritts used Flickr.

So nothing wrong so far, an email to the photographer or a free phone would have been nice, but nice doesn't make the world go round. What is causing all the problems is that the photographers didn't get model release forms for the people in the photographs. Most budding photographers wouldn't even know what that is or need to. Not only did Virgin Mobile fail to get photos with models releases they insulted some of them with the actual ad. They did a double whammy with the image above the girl is 15 years old. Ouch.

Note: The message from Host is that for the ad above "the idea is that the girl in the particular ad is the dumper, not the dumpee."
To me that gets lost in translation.

While bloggers and the Flickr community are up in arms, none of them are lawyers and this could all fizzle to nothing. Virgin seem to have changed all the photos on the website Are you with us or to remove any faces. Lucky cats don't have lawyers :)

I've spoken to a few other agencies about this issue and the general consensus was "Yeah Flickr is a great place to get free photos". You even break copyright law by basing vector artwork on a photo you don't own copyright for see here. Although this is a lot easier to hide and harder to prove.

As an active Flickr user for many years I have had my photos used for commercial reasons but each time I have been paid a small fee for my trouble. Usually around $100. Virgin Mobile could have avoided any negative press by just paying a partly fee to those who agree and opting to not use photos for those who don't.

If you want to read more about this then check the article in the Australian, the offending Pen pal photo, a Flickr group discussion where even Flickr's GM weighs in, or here where a representative of Virgin Mobile's advertising team apologizes (slightly) or just Google it and read for hours.

Note: I contacted Host a month ago on this issue but failed to get their side of the story.

Update: July 23, 2007

  • I have the official response from Virgin Mobile's media people (thanks Host)
  • "Flickr is about providing a platform for photographers to reach new audiences. As such the decision to feature Flickr photography was based on the desire to champion a vibrant, current, online community. It was part of an approach designed to reject clichéd 'advertising' imagery in favour of more genuine and spontaneous shots. It is typically Virgin to embrace fresh initiatives and the democratic spirit of Flickr matches the inclusive nature of our 'Are you with us or what?' campaign.

    The images have been featured within the positive spirit of the Creative Commons Agreement, a legal framework voluntarily chosen by the photographers. It allows for their photographs to be used for a variety of purposes, including commercial activities. All of the photographers have been accredited in the adverts."

    Update : July 24, 2007

  • ABC Radio / Triple J had a discussion on this last night - listen
  • So to sum up:
    Using photos with an attribution license is legal.
    Not telling photgraphers you are using their photos on a nationwide campaign seems like a unfriendly oversight that could have avoided some bad juju.
    Not getting model release forms signed by the people featured in the photos is a costly legal grey area.

    Also, what happens if the photographer changes the license later at a later date? In this case, Virgin Mobile wouldn't know of the change in an image's status, because it never made contact with the photographer, and as such the photographer would be unable to inform them either.

    I wonder if Getty Images or the other stock libraries have seen a drop in profits thanks to Flickr?

    July 22, 2007

    Internet Memes

    Internet memes or phenomenons are everywhere these days and its hard to catch one early. There's nothing worse than sending something to a friend only to get back "that's so last week."

    All your base, Little Superstar, Mosh Girl, Fat Asian Kid, Dramatic Prairie Dog, This is Spartaa all bring a smile to my face when I think of them. Wikipedia has a larger list of Memes but I feel its incomplete as Tron Guy certainly demands to be in there.

    Memes vs Viral:
    The way to think of a meme vs viral is like this. Viral is something advertising agencies create to try and sell a product and if popular will stay around for a few months.
    A meme is something that changes the way people talk and will end up being mentioned on Family Guy or The Simpsons.

    Another fancy word for Viral
    If the word VIRAL feels overused and has lost its meaning then try using MEME. It hasn't hit the mainstream yet and if you explain it as I have it's like a Viral on steroids then when someone else pitches to do a Viral your ideas will sem better.
    Note: You say it mehm not ME ME.

    Untapped Memes:
    Here's a couple new ones which I saw last week which have yet to catch on as much as the previous examples

    Chocolate Rain

    Algorithm Dance

    If the Algorithm dance seems slightly odd what's even more odd are these Inmates from the Phillipines dancing to it

    Or the same inmates reenacting Thriller.

    Advertising Funded Memes:
    It's interesting to note that very few of these memes actually helped any product get sold. Almost none were created by advertising agencies. Aside from Ford's Hurra Torpedo but they just latched onto an obscure band that already existed.

    OK Go's career was saved with their treadmill film clip, Blair Witch and Snakes on a Plane would be forgotten if it not for the web. SNL is probably more popular now thanks to Youtube than it has ever been. (Narnia Rap and Dick in a Box)

    Aside from these, very few were actually created with the purpose of selling something and I think that's because these things grow organically. When something is forced it rarely sees success.

    The only two examples I can think of quickly are Subservient Chicken and Million Dollar Homepage. Both created solely to make money for someone and both wildly popular and spawned many imitators.

    Name that Burger


    McDonald's have launched a new campaign to name their new burger. Yes I know its so exciting that why are they offering a $20,000 prize when the act of naming a burger should be the prize itself.

    Another promotion running where consumers are giving the power to determine product decisions is Master Foods' Dolimio pasta sauce promotion. Wow and you thought naming a burger was fun!

    Doritos did this earlier as did Pepsi when they let people design their cans.


    And speaking of McDonald's I thought I'd throw to these great posters for McDonald's in France done by illustrator Andy Smith. I'm not sure what they say but I probably wont eat at Quick Hamburger when I'm in Paris next time.

    July 18, 2007

    Simpsonize Me & Yellow Fever

    The Simpsons movie is 8 days away (I would say how great it is but I've been told not tell anyone I've seen it) and we're heading into the biggest marketing push Fox has ever done. So big they have put together a website to showcase the promotions. See Yellow.


    What's not on there is the new Simpsonize Me tool for Burger King. Just launched by CP+B.

    Now it's a little rough around the edges (read: buggy) but when it does work it's actually pretty cool. Uploading a face definitely takes the grunt work out of creating a character.


    Here's me Simpsonized. I had to adjust the hair but it's a pretty good likeness. It's even captured my terrible fashion sense. I also Simpsonized myself age 80. As you can see I no longer wear glasses and my ears are bigger but I've now got a great sense for fashion. I look forward to my Versace days to come in my 80's.


    What's confusing is that the official Simpsons site has their own Create your own Simpsons avatar tool. Here's the Simpsons character I created a few weeks back. To launch two similar online initiatives seems a waste and also takes the allure off the BK one.

    What's missing from both is a gallery function. I want to see other people's characters. I want to see them all in a huge crowd shot. I guess I'll have to browse the Flickr groups and fan forums for my fix.

    And and if you dial you age in at 200 this is what you get. Don't do it as you have to upload your photo again after.


    As for what else is happening outside of what's mentioned on See Yellow, there is also:

    Harpers Bazaar:
    This great Simpsons Harper's Bazaar spread. That will tickle the fashionistas.


    Twelve artist inspired limited edition Simpsons Vans. That should keep the sneaker freaks happy.


    Samsung are releasing a Limited Edition Simpsons mobile. This and the Yellow XBOX 360 will keep the tech geeks happy.


    And finally we have the Limited Edition Donut Packaging for The Simpsons Movie soundtrack. Now trust me when I say that you will be singing the Spiderpig theme when you leave the cinemas. This will keep me happy at least.


    Both Samsung and Vans should have created official sites for these promotions. Their corporate sites (Vans | Samsung) don't even mention these at all. You can't rely on bloggers as your only form of information distribution!

    Even more detailed info can be found on Wikipedia.

    July 17, 2007

    New Editors joins the team

    The only known image of the Bannerblog team, in a rare sitting together to discuss the addition of a new member, and the approval of a new typewriter ribbon

    While the Bancroft Family are busy protecting the editorial independence of the Wall Street Journal from Rupert Murdoch, we at the Bannerblog Journal live a much easier life. Over a glass of 1984 Penfolds Grange at Tetsuya's (we don't have a NoBu downunder yet) we decided life would be so much easier if we had another editor, and with that we charged our glasses , put out a memo, then sat back and smoked a few cubans.

    The past few months traffic has been growing at a steady pace, with submissions filling our inbox on an almost on a daily basis. To reflect this growth in traffic, particularly in the US market which accounts for 20.45% of our audience, we're please to announce new members of the Bannerblog team, Kate Daggett-Cohen from New York and Paul Collins from Akestam.Holst in Sweden who will help improve our coverage from Europe.

    We're still in dire need of an Asia based editor that can help bring that region into the spotlight by posting banners at least once or twice a week. Ashley is doing his bit by dating his own 'Wendy Deng' to get us some influence in Asia, but realistically we don't expect that maneuver to pay off until after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

    You get to pimp your own agencies campaigns occassionally, which will no doubt score you some brownie points with your VP/MD/CEO/ECD. And in the unlikely event of a News Corp takeover, you'll be Web 2.0's latest hot property.

    Previous Page
     1  |  2  |  3  |  4 
    Next Page