Guinness and one of its agencies were this week accused in the High
Court of ripping off a director’s promotional film for a national TV
The ruling by Mr Justice Rattee in the lawsuit being brought by Mehdi
Norowzian is expected to become a landmark by clarifying what rights
commercials directors have over their ideas.
Advertising professionals and even experts in choreography were
scheduled to give evidence at the hearing, due to last two weeks, into
the claim provoked by the 1995 commercial, ’anticipation’.
Norowzian is suing Arks, the Dublin agency that created it, Guinness
Brewing Worldwide and its Guinness plc parent for alleged copyright
The agency and Guinness deny any wrongdoing.
Norowzian claims Arks made the ad - which he says was copied from a
short film called Joy that he made for his showreel - after he had
rejected the agency’s offer to him to direct it.
After the judge had watched both films, Christopher Floyd QC,
representing Norowzian, said: ’Evidence will show that a huge number of
people seeing the ad believed my client had directed it.’
He said Norowzian had refused to direct the film ’because he doesn’t
want to be seen to be repeating old work. But that’s exactly the effect
of Guinness using the film without his consent and will damage his
reputation with the people who give him his livelihood as a
According to Floyd, Norowzian was sent a storyboard for the film, which
was based on Joy, in early February 1991 but he declined to take part in
the project. Faced with rejection, Arks chose Ritchie Smith, then of
Little Bird, to direct the ad.
Meanwhile, Guinness had been ’charmed’ by the idea of the commercial and
gave it the go-ahead. Floyd claimed Smith produced his own
interpretation of the idea but was ’brought into line’ by Arks, which
had already sold the Joy concept to its client.
Smith was shown Joy by the agency to illustrate what it wanted. He later
made a test video which used Joy with a pint of Guinness superimposed on
it. Joy was also used to coach the actor, Joe Mc-Kinney, Floyd told the
The hearing continues.