Does Originality in Advertising Matter?

ATTZimbabwe2.jpg  CitizenGiraffe.jpg

When businesses copy other businesses, they call it “best practices.” But when advertising agencies copy the work of other agencies, they call it stealing (or much worse).

Maybe that’s because so much advertising is still evaluated on the merits of its creativity rather than its results. 

That brings me to the two ads pictured above. The one on the left, for AT&T Mobile, was featured in today’s Advertising Age Creativity. The one on the right—part of an iconic and highly celebrated campaign for Noblia Citizen watches—is now more than 20 years old.
Are the similarities just a coincidence? Did a designer paging through old advertising annuals think no one would notice?

Or is it just an example of best practices? After all, the new AT&T campaign is stunning. And it’s targeting a generation of consumers that wouldn’t recognize the Noblia Citizen watch ad if it, well, bit them.

I haven’t seen anyone else comment about the resemblance yet. So either it’s much ado about nothing… or maybe I’m the only person who worked in that era that still has a memory left.