Advertising déjà vu? Co-operative Bank social experiment follows in the footsteps of The Warehouse—UPDATED

Last week, the Co-operative Bank released a short, hidden-camera styled clip via Socialites designed to showcase Kiwi generosity.

The video shows an elderly man at a register trying to pay for goods only to realise that he’s $2 short.

He then proceeds to remove an item from his shopping bag, but before he gets too far a few kind Kiwis step in to help him out.

Since its publication on Facebook on 20 April, the video has already been viewed 1.3 million times—indicating that the video achieved the desired goal.

The only problem is that it’s been done before in New Zealand, as recently as December (and there has also been a host of international social experiments like these).

Earlier today, Contagion’s managing partner Dean Taylor pointed out that there were some clear similarities between this campaign and the one his agency did for The Warehouse at the end of last year.

“Copying is the biggest form of flattery,” Taylor said in commenting on Co-operative Bank campaign.

“But advertising should always be about originality. It’s our duty to clients to be aware of what else is out there.”

StopPress contacted Socialites founder Wendy Thompson about the similarities between the two campaigns, but we are yet to receive a response.*   

As an interesting aside, both these campaigns were produced for major clients by agencies not considered the agency on record.

The Co-operative Bank usually works with Y&R NZ while The Warehouse is a DBB client.

What this shows, once again, is that clients are becoming more willing to work with a number of different agencies on a project basis. But, this is only to be expected, with an ever-increasing number of channels being serviced by a continuously expanding collection of specialist agencies—and sometimes those specialists are stepping into the creative territory.

However, what the above ‘coincidence’ above shows is that producing original creative isn’t always as easy as it looks.    


Thompson has responded to the criticism of copying by saying that social experiments are really nothing new.

“Candid Camera has been around since the 1970s, and we would never claim that this was a completely original piece of work. We were, in fact, inspired by the success of the recent New Zealand Police campaign, to be honest.”

Thompson also added that the public has responded “incredibly well” to the campaign and that the Co-Operative Bank “is delighted with the results”.

“We’ve definitely met our brief,” Thompson adds.    

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