Call it a footwear folly, a sneaker snag, or a kick-game conundrum. However you look at it, the new “Keep Steppin’” UGG Winter spot from M&C Saatchi resembles the Asics “Urban Treadmill” spot Vitro put out a few months ago. They both show a guy on a treadmill avoiding obstacles behind a white backdrop. But, does the resemblance warrant an ad-ripoff disclaimer? Should M&C Saatchi be forced to stare down the benign wrath of users around the world who have nothing better to do than to post demeaning comments on message boards?
The key here is tone. The ads are certainly similar, and the oddly wide treadmill doesn’t help Saatchi’s case, but there are enough differences to shrug off the effort as a lack of creativity. UGG dude walks; Asics man jukes. UGG dude steps on a few rocks; Asics man balances a soccer ball on his neck. V.O. narration; drum beat. Boredom; activity. You get the idea.
Now that the intellectual property debate is settled, can’t we ask more serious questions? Like, do men actually buy UGG boots? And if not, is this stepping-on-rocks pitch really the best way to convince men to buy UGGz? Wasn’t Tom Brady available to pretend that he thinks the boots are stylish? Because then the ripoff comparison could be better–a football player and a fútbol player doing random things on treadmills. And since Tom Brady is involved, at least people would care enough to watch an UGG ad for men.