Has This Chinese Washing Machine Manufacturer Stolen These Photographs From a U.S. Ad Agency?

Has This Chinese Washing Machine Manufacturer Stolen These Photographs From a U.S. Ad Agency?

A Chinese washing machine manufacturer has produced a series of photographs to advertise its products, all of which seem to have an impossible resemblance to a campaign shot by an award-winning U.S. ad agency.

As reported by Adweek, the director of Design Army was tipped off by Asian friends who suddenly started seeing the adverts for Little Swan washing machines, all of which were more than strikingly similar to a campaign that the Washington D.C. agency shot for the Hong Kong Ballet last year.

The washing machine manufacturer seems to have replicated a series of images from the campaign. Some appear to have been reshot with new models, while others seem to lift entire elements from Design Army’s photographs, as created by photographer Dean Alexander.

Speaking to Adweek, Design Army’s co-founder at CCO seems quite relaxed and gracious about having inspired an entire advertising campaign for a large and successful Chinese company. Midea, Little Swan’s owner, employs more than 100,000 people and its U.S. arm is a Fortune 500 company. Generating more than $22 billion in revenue each year, one would think that such a large company would be more than willing to spend its money on its own advertising. Unfortunately for Design Army, taking legal action would probably be prohibitively expensive and unnecessarily time-consuming.

Many commenting on social media were quick to point out that thefts of this nature are far from rare, though perhaps not often on this scale, both in terms of the size of the companies involved or the degree of apparent replication.

Lead image by Andy Day.

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10 Comments

Tony Clark's picture

It would be a slam dunk if China subscribed to Intellectual Property law. Unfortunately, I have seen no evidence that they do or ever have.

Robert Nurse's picture

"one would think that such a large company would be more than willing to spend its money on its own advertising."

One would think! But, if stealing someone else's creative efforts is profitable? What a bargain!!!

"Unfortunately for Design Army, taking legal action would probably be prohibitively expensive and unnecessarily time-consuming"

Here in lies the rub. Since this seems to be the common attitude, the pilfering will only continue. The end results of such theft needs to be painful in order for it to stop!

Daris Fox's picture

Good luck with forcing China to obey IP Law, Chinese companies actually pay their staff to steal IP, tech and anything else not nailed down... Also include wholesale cloning of villages.wonders and buildings...

China hasn't earned the Xerox China for no reason. They let other countries do the heavy lifting for R&D then steal it. All done with the Governments blessing. There's little the West can do about it, mainly because they have a strangle hold on manufacturing (which again leads to IP theft)

Kang Lee's picture

You can voice your insatisfaction to the parent company social media @mideaglobal

Rob Mitchell's picture

Ouch, that’s got to sting. Seeing your ideas being used. :/

Lane Shurtleff's picture

With total global saturation of images this will occur more and more as "ideas" are not unique. While it's at least an "inspired" image, dealing with any IP theft from a country that couldn't care less about stealing 1st world ideas simply because it's "in their nature" is a long shot. This unfortunately is the way of the future.

stir photos's picture

way off topic, so i'll just apologize now for all of it, but "Chinese Washing Machine" haha, those things must suck. :)

Have a look at the washing machine in your/any house. There is a good chance it was manufactured in China. Or it has many parts that were.

stir photos's picture

the indian's create interesting furniture pieces... i like the choice of wood. the craftsmanship; tho, i'd have to classify as "interesting",?.?.? but i don't know ish about actual build quality, don't ya know.., and the fact that you you don't even know me- haha... , but yeah man, from an aesthetic point of view, dude, it's dic. personally, i like a lot of the iron work ;) the one thing i can say about actual build quality tho is i've had the same coffee table for 14 years...

everything China has is stolen from the other countries technologie. also countries like Iran do exactly the same. they are only good in stealing and copy it.