It is a rare morning in the lifecycle of the agency that dawns with cause to be proud. Ordinarily it’s a matter of prying open encrusted eyelids to find oneself slumped in the wrinkly palm of last night’s barcalounger, empty bottles of King Shag Sauvignon Blanc scattered like bowling pins across the deep pile, fag-ends drowned in glasses, the record player still bumping the shoulder of Fleetwood Mac Rumours, the Kleenex flowers of onanism crumpled moistly in the crevices. It can take a solid hour and an all-orifice Listerine douching for the phoenix of Julian Richards to rise from the ashes of his Keithly namesake.
So imagine blinking, yellow-eyed into the hangover glare of the Macbook Pro, expecting to encounter the usual cartel of child-poisoners, vivisectionists and knee-dandlers, only to find a clean, bright body of worthiness staring back at us, crunching with good health and Utopian zeal: HOPENHAGEN. Pro-bono, climate-controlled, unapologetically UPPERCASE, backed by the United Nations, sprung from the creative loins of our good friends at Ogilvy: and shot all over the planet by an elite cadre of above-the-line photographers including John Clang, Stefan Ruiz and Joachim Ladefoged not to mention our own Alex Tehrani and Henrik Knudsen. Three cheers for Tom Godici, Greg Ketchum, Michael Paterson, Greg Gershner, Justin Walsh, Leslie D’Acri and Cindy Rivet for bringing us on board and making us feel like we’ve eaten a fistful of alfafa in our otherwise seamless diet of snout, tail and grisly bits.
But wait. Lest we forget our grist is ground in the scallywag mill of global advertising; no sooner had we heaved our bedimpled buttocks out of the Herman Miller in order to polish our newly-minted conscience with a teatowel (and find the corkscrew while we’re at it) than reports began to surface of vagabond plagiarists on the loose. Bamboozlers and swindlers from cities planet-wide, each with their own summit, treaty, conference and clambake to ballyhoo. Finding themselves bereft of even the crumb of an original idea, they nibble like vermin at the edges of someone else’s, biting out chunks and running off to masticate them into something worthy of a paycheck. Hopenhagen? What the fuck, I mean, our city has a name too! Maybe we can lose the first letter, replace it with a different one, make a cool word … and Bob’s your Uncle, right? Right, Hans?
The shameless ripoff is hardly a new arrow in the quiver of contemporary advertising. Those of us who are in regular receipt of layouts and concepts will be familiar with the guilty gulp of estimating against someone else’s (aptly titled) swipe. We wonder how the likes of Phillip (Mr Peanut) Toledano sleep at night, their brainchildren kidnapped and molested each time they leave the room long enough to take a poo: the past few months alone have seen Phil’s offspring unceremoniously diddled by Sony PS3 and by McCann Milan, probably others too. Perhaps it is an indication of our own originality barometer being stuck on rain that we have seldom been at the butt-end of such outrages. Until now, that is. Until Hopenhagen. It is almost as if, having undergone creative hymenoplasty after a decade-and-a-half of hopping on anything vaguely zucchini-shaped, the Gods are sending us a message regarding our affectations of virginity: that a whore is a whore, regardless of any monkeying with the introitus.
First up (barely a week after Hopenhagen broke) from Rotterdam, the city that brought us such originals as Rem Koolhaas, Willem de Kooning and the 1970 Holland Pop Festival (featuring Canned Heat and Jefferson Airplane) we have a decidedly unoriginal campaign for what appears to be a Festival of Ass Glorification: Botterdam. Yes, you heard it right. The organizers allegation that horsing about with your undercarriage can help expedite World Peace cannot be easily verified, but it does seem plausible:
Hot on the heels of the cheesy Flatlanders (thanks to our friends at Pilfered for spotting it) comes what we assume to be the deep irony of the Bushveld, as the City of Johannesburg endeavours to position itself as the place to toddle off to if you’re in the mood for a septic orgy. What this campaign lacks in nuance it amply makes up for in candour:
Persisting with a theme (and slithering still further down the pole of depravity), as the fulcrum of the Eastern European sex industry slowly dribbles south from Prague, Bratislava Slovakia appears to be setting up road-blocks in its path. Evidence; this uncompromising campaign (seemingly for some kind of Reality TV show?) from young-gun British agency Corky Albright Fystme Sweetling. Despite the breathless Hopenhagen appropriation, it is a laudable effort from a city which has otherwise brought us fuck all really:
The prize for the most overtly nose-crinkling counterfeit must surely go to Copenhagen’s Scandinavian counterpart (who should probably know better), Helsinki. Other than Hanoi Rocks (2nd to Marillion in the 1984 Sounds Magazine Band of the Year Reader Poll), the only thing of note to have emerged from the frigid Finnish capitol were the 1952 Olympic Games, in which (as we all know) Emil Zátopek won three gold medals: the 5000m, 10000m and the Marathon (which, curiously, he had never run before). Likely feeling in need of a home-run after half a century in the wilderness, they are seeking to establish themselves as the City of Reasonable Doubt in the climate control debate, with the forthcoming Smelskinki! Summit (note the exclamation point). A cursory glance at the small print suggests that the main attraction of this event is an effort to break the world record for contiguous human methane production, which basically translates as making the world’s biggest fart:
And bringing up the rear in every way possible, from the sultry seat of Turkey, Ankara (14th in the 1985 Eurovision Song Contest with Didai Didai Dai) we are blessed with the following crusade for an apparent summit on the manifold delights of masturbation. We are currently on hold with Atatürk Air frequent flyer desk: