Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. has expressed concerns to Rogers Communications Inc. over a nationwide ad campaign that the telecommunications giant has launched with striking similarities to OLG’s ads.
Earlier this month, Rogers launched an ad communicating its overall corporate identity. Unlike other ads that promote specific products, the campaign was designed to emphasize the company’s role in Canadians’ lives – from connecting families by phone, informing them through its magazines and broadcasting local hockey games on community television. The ad concludes with the slogan “We’re for here.”
OLG’s slogan, which it has been running in ads since May of 2015, is “We’re all for here” when spoken in ads, or “All for here” in print. The continuing campaign, which airs in Ontario, advertises OLG’s investments in the province, including Pride celebrations, community pools and sports clubs and cultural events.
“We have seen the Rogers ‘We’re for Here’ campaign. We believe there are significant similarities between the two,” Jeff Corcoran, OLG’s executive director of corporate marketing, said in an e-mailed statement. “We have been in touch with Rogers and their ad agency to advise of our concerns.”
Rogers spokesperson Aaron Lazarus said he is not aware of any discussions at the company to consider making changes to the campaign in light of the concerns that have been raised.
“There is no connection. …,” he said. “Our focus is just on talking to Canadians about who we are, what we do and why we do it. That’s what our campaign, ‘We’re for here,’ is about. We’re on a roll-out of our campaign. People can go to wereforhere.ca and see more about it.”
The Rogers campaign was created by BBDO Toronto. The agency declined to comment.
“The Rogers campaign you mentioned appears to be very similar to the work we created for OLG,” Simon Creet, partner and chief creative officer at ad agency The Hive, said in an e-mail. “I can’t offer anything further right now, but please know that we are very proud of this work.”
The overlap is out of the ordinary for such a large, sophisticated brand. Vetting slogans and ad concepts to ensure that they do not echo other campaigns in the marketplace is part of an agency’s job when pitching a campaign to a client. It is a standard part of the creative process; marketers often do their own verifications as well, including trademark searches, to prevent similarities.
That is not to say they don’t happen, whether by design or inadvertently.
In 2009, Bell Canada launched a campaign featuring an image of a couch coloured half in red (Rogers’s brand colour) and half in blue (for Bell) – with the blue side extended to emphasize the perks of Bell’s service over its competitor. The couch was nearly identical to an image Rogers used in an earlier campaign. Bell’s head of branding at the time called the campaign the brand equivalent of “hand-to-hand knife combat” and verified that it was a direct response to the rival ad.
Newfoundland and Labrador has had such success with its dreamy tourism ads that it has complained of copycat ads. Travel Manitoba, for instance, launched ads in 2013 with a very similar tone to Newfoundland’s in its voice-overs and use of music.
Sometimes ad agencies can seize upon similar ideas at the same time: Last year, within a very short time span, three different campaigns launched in Canada that riffed on “Celebrities read mean tweets,” a popular joke on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night TV show.
Edmonton Transit System launched a tongue-in-cheek video last year talking about how “cool” riding the bus is, which was nearly identical to a campaign for a public transit system in Denmark. While ETS said its video was inspired by the other campaign, the video did not credit the original; ETS clarified that on social media and in the press.