Early last week, I got a message on Whatsapp from a friend, Karan. He asked me to view an ad on YouTube because the music that plays towards the end was, according to him, near identical to the jingle used in the now-hugely-famous Kia Motors’ Magical Inspirations ad.
Listen to the music that plays towards the end of the Bajaj Allianz ad. (starting 1:11):
He even tweeted it, last week:
I watched the ad. and of course, the jingle/music was ditto!
But knowing how careful ad agencies are in using audio and video footage only after every detail is checked—copyright, royalty etc.—I told Karan that it could simply be a case of both agencies using the same stock music sample as jingle (since it is just music, with no lyrics).
But then he pointed to something pertinent – Kia went out of its way to make the jingle available as mobile ringtones because a lot of people asked for it.
If Kia made it available as a mobile ringtone, then they must have procured absolute rights for the jingle. Which means Bajaj Allianz cannot probably use it, in any way – directly or with a variation, as they have done.
But they have used it. I didn’t know what to do with the piece of information, besides the fact that I track music plagiarism on an industrial scale, in my now-defunct website ItwoFS and as a weekly column on Filmcompanion called Carbon Copy (which I just ended after 42 weeks/episodes).
I wanted to check the Bajaj Allianz ad again, late last week… and I found that it’s gone! It has been scrubbed off YouTube, Facebook and Twitter! Which means it has been yanked off the articles that mentioned it too, like on Adgully and Afaqs!
And in its place, there’s the same ad with different background music (not as effective as the earlier one, to be honest; the earlier musical piece’s tone and timing were perfect for the ending!)
So, what happened?
The Kia Motors ad is from Sideways Consulting. And the Bajaj Allianz ad is by the in-house team.
Did Bajaj Allianz notice Karan’s tweet (considering no one else has mentioned it; it’s possible someone mentioned it under the comments when Bajaj Allianz may have first shared it on Facebook, last Tuesday/Wednesday) and decided to quietly update the ad? Or, did Sideways Consulting/Kia get wind of it and asked Bajaj Allianz to take it down, or else…?
Between the earlier version (now deleted) and the new one, there is just one difference – the background music! Everything else is exactly the same.
If the ad wasn’t removed, I wouldn’t have known about the plagiarism at all and I would have continued to think that both brands may have bought the rights to a jingle and the contractual terms allowed both to use it. The update in the video seems to almost confirm that there was some sort of plagiarism involved.
Since the video has been removed, it does seem hugely disingenuous on Bajaj Allianz’s part to assume nobody would notice what they erred on and what they replaced it with.
PS 1: I just hope the makers of The Wolf of Wall Street don’t call up our in-house team at Bajaj Allianz for seeking ‘inspiration’ from a scene from their film. If they do, the 2nd ad may have to be replaced too.