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As creative and advertising professionals, my co-workers and I really appreciate a clever ad campaign. For big name brands like Bud Light, Geico, and Mac, these campaigns come pretty easily when you’re able to afford the best advertising agencies and ad placements that money can buy. Locally owned small businesses usually don’t have that same luxury, so a clever ad campaign is especially impressive.

Take local air conditioning company “Air Around the Clock” in Coral Springs, Florida for example. Promoting your air conditioning services in south Florida where it’s always summer and when all of your competitors are doing the same is more than a challenge. On top of that, the subject  “air conditioning” doesn’t exactly scream “interesting.” Needing a clever billboard that would immediately grab drivers’ attention, “Air Around the Clock” debuted a billboard campaign in January, which donned the slogan, “Your wife is hot. Better get your A/C fixed.” The billboards were an instant hit, such a hit in fact, that a competitor air conditioning company thought they might try it out too. All Year Cooling, also in South Florida, responded with billboards of their own donning the slogan, “Your wife is not hot because you called All Year Cooling to replace your A/C.” The copy isn’t the only similarity, though. Check out the two ads for yourself:

Needless to say, “Air Around the Clock” was not happy with their catchy idea AND design being stolen. To make matters worse, customers began getting the two confused and calling “All Around Air” thinking it was “Air Around the Clock.”  Not surprisingly, “All Year Cooling” now has a lawsuit on its hands and this story, after being featured on Fox News, has gone further than I’m sure they would have liked. You’d think that if they had just changed up the design and color scheme of the billboard a little bit they wouldn’t be in this situation. What do you think? Did “All Year Cooling” cross the line?