Volkswagen and DDB accused of creating sound-alike track of US band for Polo ad

Is music in safe hands with ad agencies? DDB UK and Volkswagen accused of creating a sound-alike of a Beach House songThe New York Times reports that DDB UK stands accused of creating a sound-alike track for its latest Volkswagen Polo ad.

DDB is understood to have created its own sound track for the ad ‘Stay in safe hands’ after being turned down by US band Beach House.

Beach House, who have consulted a copyright lawyer, are said to have repeatedly turned down offers from Volkswagen and DDB to use their 2010 song ‘Take Care’ in the ad.

However, Alex Scally of Beach House then began hearing from fans who after seeing the ad thought the band had released a new track.

 When Mr. Scally started hearing from fans about the commercial, he said rushed to find a copy online. “It was a crazy moment,” Mr. Scally said by telephone while on tour in France. “We didn’t give them the song, and they made a very similar song to replace it.”

He added: “The worst thing is that it feels like something close to what we made. A feeling and a sentiment and an energy has been copied and is being used to sell something we didn’t want to sell.”

Volkswagen denies that the commercial soundtrack, ‘Whispers and Stories’, was purposely made to imitate Beach House’s song. Jason Foster, Beach House’s manager, said the band had consulted with lawyers and musicologists about the possibility of bringing a copyright suit in British courts but had yet to file papers, the New York Times reports.

Judge for yourself below if the two tracks sound-alike. The paper reports that Beach House is not the first band to complain over such behaviour of ad agencies.

Other instances include Fleet Foxes in 2010 who objected to a Spanish sporting goods firm Kipsta featuring a song that sounded very much like the band’s ‘White Winter Hymnal’.

Icelandic band Sigur Ros has previously accused several advertisers, including Audi, of copying its songs although it has taken no legal action.

Audi and its agencies are it appears repeat offenders. In 2006 Tom Waits successfully sued Audi for using a sound-alike in a commercial.

A Spanish court awarded the singer, who has said his music will never be used in advertising, damages of €36,000 (£24,700) for copyright infringement and €30,000 for violation of his moral rights, which protect a person’s personality and reputation.

Advertisers should know by now that Waits will sue. In 1993, he won £2m from Frito-Lay for mimicking his voice in Doritos’ ads.  A year later he sued his own record company for licensing ‘Heartattack and Vine’ for a Levi’s commercial without consulting him.

He also sued McCann Erickson and General Motors in 2005. Ad agencies should now know better.

In 2005 Waits said: “If I stole an Opel, Lancia, or Audi, put my name on it and resold it, I’d go to jail. But over there they ask, you say no, and they hire impersonators. They profit from the association and I lose — time, money, and credibility. What’s that about?”

Beach House – Take Care

Volkswagen Polo ‘stay in safe hands’ by DDB UK