Sony Vaio is running an ad campaign that takes a page from the playbook of the Grand Central Freeze that generated so much energy and excitement online when Improv Everywhere staged it around a year ago.
Only Sony's not billing it as an homage to the creative minds who thought up the first stunt: the original inspiration is cited nowhere. The ad that Sony has posted on their own behalf on YouTube is peppered with comments selected from spectators about how "cool" and "wonderful" the campaign is and how "this is really very unique."
Vaio is supporting the campaign with hooks on several major Social Networks -- including streams on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
The campaign poses the question: Can a major brand run a strikingly derivative campaign -- and call it their own -- in the same social network space that the grassroots clip was first wildly circulated and applauded? Will the collective crowd turn into a lynch mob?
Does the original staged event qualify as intellectual property? Can a happening be plagerized?
At the very least it's an exercise in bad taste in an environment where citing your vias is considered just plain, good manners.
Update: Boing Boing blogged 'em and didn't mention the earlier work. Maybe Sony will get away with it.