Ad Nut
Feb 1, 2023

Copycat accusations fly: Cathay Pacific calls out SIA for lack of originality in latest brand campaign

Is imitation really the best form of flattery?

Copycat accusations fly: Cathay Pacific calls out SIA for lack of originality in latest brand campaign

Ad Nut lives for drama, especially when competing brands call each other out. And that too, publicly. 

In the latest social media spat, Cathay Pacific’s chief marketing officer, Edward Bell took to LinkedIn to point out that Singapore Airlines’ new global campaign “Welcome to world class” has taken creative inspiration from Cathay’s 2015 ‘Life well travelled – Miss Adventure’ spot.

While Bell seems to go on the ‘we did it first, we did it better,’ tirade, he raises the question whether Singapore Airlines is lacking in originality.

Watch the two campaigns for yourself here:

“Life well travelled – Miss Adventure”, Cathay Pacific, 2015:

“Welcome to world class”, Singapore Airlines, 2023:

While the delivery and setting of both the campaigns are somewhat identical, they both use a similar approach. SIA’s spot is from the perspective of the cabin crew, CX’s story is from the eyes of the traveller.

Ad Nut feels it is a bold move to publicly call out a competitor, but when it comes to advertising, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery–unless your own pockets have been picked.

But let's be real, in a world where every brand is trying to outdo another, it's not surprising to see campaigns that bear resemblance to each other. While SIA is not in the business of ripping off ads, and these aren’t exact duplicates either, several times creatives really do think alike.

But again, in a world where brand differentiation is key, could this lack of a through check on the agencies part be a major blow to the brand’s image?  

Ad Nut will not be the judge of that.

It is not like SIA is the first ever company to recycle another's marketing strategy. In September 2022, Emirates and Air New Zealand were locked in a similar comical battle after ruffling each other's features.

It all started with Emirates' ‘Fly Better’ campaign featuring the animated bird Gerry the Goose. Beautiful campaign, good execution and storyline except those who fly Air New Zealand had seen a similar commercial featuring an animated goose called Dave, several times over.

In true Kiwi style, Air New Zealand took a dig at the ripped off ad with a well-timed, humorous video of its own:

Well, when it comes to brand wars, the first one to call out the other usually wins. Ad Nut would have appreciated if CX took a more innovative approach to call out SIA for seeking inspiration.

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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