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Tell me again how copying is really flattery?!?

Exhibit 1 – The Luxury Collection ‘Explore the Collection

Click here to see The Luxury Collection site

Exhibit 2 – Middlebury College Web site

Click here to see the Middlebury University site

The Luxury Collection web site was launched a little less than two years ago and the redesign, which was done in collaboration with BBDO Atmosphere and their phenomenally talented creative director Arturo Aranda, was the first step in their re-branding and the creation of the brand’s new global visual language. The strategy and inspiration for the site came from the world of art museums and galleries where you can see unique and varied works of art from across history that are bound by the curation of the museum that brought them together and made them into a collection. Explore the Collection brings this strategy to life with the properties displayed as slivered works of art against a large white background like the works lining the walls of a museum. You can either explore the slivers by rolling over them or search interactively by Destination or Pursuit which will narrow down the numbers of slivers displayed.

This morning a link to the Middlebury College web site lands in my inbox. I clicked the link and could just feel my blood pressure go shooting up and face getting hot as I stared at my screen.

Before I say anything else I want you to  click the links for both sites and decide for yourself. I can wait…

I my humble opinion I think it’s pretty easy to see more than a passing resemblance between the two sites seeing as how the layout and user experience are exactly the same.

Maybe I’m making this into something more profound than it needs to be but if an agency (in this case White Whale Web Services) is  going to get paid by a client they have to have the talent and ethics to give the client what they paid for – an original idea. Doing this is an abuse of their trust because they are looking to you to be the expert. They are looking to you to be the professional. They are looking to you to be anything but the group who is going to exploit the fact that they don’t know they are just getting a re-skinned version of something someone else already did. If they wanted a site like someone else they could have gone to and saved a hell of a lot of money.

Maybe my bigger issue is that I want to know when we all got so lazy? Why can’t we can’t come up with our own ideas? Why can’t agencies write their own blogs so I don’t have to send out cease and desist letters every month? It’s becoming an epidemic that I see time after time when I speak at conferences and people come up to me and ask what the ‘secret’ is for success. I tell them all the same thing – a lot of hard work. It means that on every single project, every single day you have to put in the time and work your ass off to come up with an original idea and not taking the easy way out and copying someone else.  Such a simple concept but seemingly harder and harder to find.


  1. rob

    May 22, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    i respectfully disagree about 50%. although similar, i can see how someone can get to this creative without even knowing the “original” creative existed already. i dont see anything original in either of them. this technique is nothing new. there are many jquery plugins that create the same effect. i do agree with the lack of originality, but again that comes with the access to all the information we have at hand. we are always influenced (inspired) by many thing each and every day. and so be it if that one thing is another website where a solution at hand sprawns from it.

    love your blog and your writings. you always bring interesting thoughts about. but i wouldn’t let your blood pressure go up cause of this alleged copyright infringement. i dont see it.

  2. Nike Blazer Hi

    June 7, 2010 at 5:06 am

    ya you are right,,, I think also it’s pretty easy to see more than a passing resemblance between the two sites seeing as how the layout and user experience are exactly the same in such a way….

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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