David points us to this fantastic post by Ken Segall, entitled Creativity has many fathers, and analyzing the story of two car commercials that seem quite similar. The first, for the Nissan LEAF, is below:
The second is from Renault, for the Z.E.:
The two ads debuted within days of each other. You might note some similarities. Or, actually, a ton of similarities. My first response was to remember that Nissan and Renault are connected at the hip in a slightly odd non-merger alliance where each company owns a substantial stake in the other. However, the two companies are still mostly separate, and their marketing is apparently entirely separate. More specifically, the two ads were developed by two different ad agencies -- and apparently neither is particularly happy about this, with each suggesting the other "plagiarized" the ad. However, neither has been too vocal about this publicly, and no legal action has been threatened.
Segall digs up the possible reason why, in the form of one more ad... for the Mitsubishi i-Miev. This commercial came out way before the other two:
Yeah, it's kind of tough to claim someone else plagiarized you, when your ad looks like a blatant copy of yet someone else's...
Perhaps the reality is that this idea was just so obvious that three different ad agencies came up with it. It's not hard to see how a brainstorming session might come up with exactly this concept pretty easily. Or perhaps there really was some copying. But, in the end, does it really matter? As Segall notes about all three ads, "Wow, what a fantastic concept."