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Universal Studio copies Apple ad for theme park

updated 01:12 am EST, Thu January 23, 2014

Entertainment company 'pulls a Samsung' with similar TV spot

Apple's recent holiday ad, the critically-acclaimed "Misunderstood," apparently also has fans in the advertising community. A new ad for Universal Studios Orlando has taken the premise of the Apple ad -- a teenager on a family vacation who appears to be self-absorbed with their iPhone, but who turns out to have been busily documenting the trip -- and copied it with a sunnier theme park motif that so strongly resembles the original that even the background music is in the same style.

The TV spot, likely created by Universal's main ad agency David&Goliath, has drawn comments noting the strong similarity of the two ads since its debut. The spot even plays up the tension between the teenager and the father, who wants his daughter to get her nose out of her smartphone, and is later surprised when she sends him a photo gallery of all the pictures she has taken and expresses how much she enjoyed the vacation. Even the music chosen for the spot is remarkably similar in style and sound to Apple's earlier "Photos Every Day" commercial.

Another section of the new ad shows the teen heroine of the piece suddenly splashed with water due to being so engaged with the phone. A very similar shot can be seen in "Misunderstood" when someone throws a snowball at the preoccupied teen; it is not the only set piece in the Universal ad that is instantly familiar. It's unlikely to soothe any ruffled feathers at Apple or their ad agency that the phone used by the teen is very obviously an iPhone, despite having a case on it (the father who receives her photo gallery appears to be using a Samsung Galaxy S III or S4).

The original Apple ad (seen below, created by TBWA/Media Arts) drew wide praise for being a beautifully-made and emotionally-engaging spot that, in typical Apple style, emphasized the users and how they use the technology rather than the product and its specifications. Some, however, saw it as a "sad commentary" on how our plugged-in society has descended into only enjoying an experience after the fact through documentation rather than "living in the moment" and letting memories be the only record of an event.

Pundit Jon Gruber of Daring Fireball suggested that Universal Orlando must have "hired Samsung's ad agency" in creating the spot, a cheeky reference to Samsung's proclivity to copy Apple ideas (for the most part, poorly), right down to store design and uniforms. Some have attempted to claim that the ad must have been shot prior to Apple's commercial, because of the summer-like weather. However, the ad was likely shot in Orlando, which has (as is typical) bypassed nearly all of the record cold temperatures that have affected even some of southernmost portions of the US this winter, and thus the commercial could have easily been shot after Apple's aired.

by MacNN Staff



  1. slboett

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: 05-13-99

    Oh the irony. One of the mega-media companies that sues people and puts them in jail for stealing movies and music blatantly steals an Apple ad. The good news is, it's a really piss-poor copy.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    If "Misunderstood" had never been created and the agency thought of this on their own, it would probably get some of the praise Apple did. It's not anywhere near as emotionally powerful as the Apple version, but its a clever concept -- precisely why Universal stole it.

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