Artists call in lawyers over Honda 'cog' spot

Two Swiss artists have threatened legal action against Honda UK, claiming the company's "cog" commercial, made by Wieden & Kennedy London, copies key elements of their award-winning 1987 short film.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss' 30-minute film Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way Things Go) shows a series of domino events using everyday objects such as string, soap and balloons fuelled by fire, gas and gravity.

In a statement, a spokesman for Honda UK said: "We received a letter on the 25 April from lawyers acting for Mr Fischli and Mr Weiss that set out details of their concerns over the Honda 'cog' ad. Honda responded as requested the following week (29 April) and we have received no further communication from the artists or anyone acting on their behalf since that date. We therefore have no reason to believe that this matter is on-going."

W&K London admits the film was an inspiration, but that it was only one of a number of influences.

"Cog", which was jointly art directed and written by Ben Walker and Matt Gooden and directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet at Partizan, is tipped to pick up a number of creative awards.

The dispute echoes that of the film director Mehdi Norowzian who lost a court case against Guinness over its 1995 dancing ad - created by the Dublin agency Arks.