Honda blocks airing of WCRS's spoof 'cog' ad

An ad by WCRS spoofing Honda's "cog" commercial has been blocked from being aired by the car manufacturer.

WCRS filmed a 60-second and 90-second version of the spoof, which features the two moustachioed runners that star in the spots for the new directory enquiries service 118118. The spots are a humorous take-off of the series of chain reactions featured in the "cog" commercial by Wieden & Kennedy London.

According to the BACC's guidance notes, spoof ads "may be defamatory, (a) breach of copyright or trademark or passing off". As such, the BACC states that "agencies are strongly advised to seek the express permission of the advertiser concerned". WCRS claims that Honda refused to give this permission to The Number, which owns the 118118 service.

The refusal comes amid a flurry of argument over the creative provenance of the "cog" ad. In April, two Swiss artists threatened legal action against Honda UK, claiming that elements of the commercial copied key sections of their own 1987 short film, called Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way Things Go). The artists, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, have taken no further action beyond an initial letter filed through lawyers, outlining their concerns.

The WCRS ad will still run online as a viral execution. In the spot the runners are seen doing ridiculous acts such as disco dancing, sliding boxes of Chinese takeaway down ramps and being rolled up in a carpet.

The spot finishes with the song Rappers Delight and one of the runners saying to his partner: "Isn't it nice when a directory enquiries service just works, 118?"

The viral ad was written by Anson Harris and art directed by Per Kvalvaag.

Direction was by JJ Keith at HLA.