7 Billion People, 3 Videos and Some Dubious Imitation

About a year ago (as I wrote here), Capulet helped produce and promote a series of videos for Elastic Path, an eCommerce company in Vancouver. They were called “The Crazy Messed Up World of eCommerce”, and asked the question “What if offline shopping were as cruel and difficult as buying online?”. Here’s one of the videos:

Last week, I received an email discussing a series of three videos that another eCommerce company, 7 Billion People, had released and showed at an industry tradeshow. You can see them on the front page of their website, or in their YouTube channel. They claim to ask the question “What if all shopping was like shopping on the web?”. Here’s one of their videos:

Does that seem oddly familiar to anybody else? Let’s see–same format, same setup, same comedic premise, similar dialogue. Their videos are obviously a lot slicker–they have professional actors and, you know, lighting, but I think the similarities are pretty striking. Too striking to be a mere coincidence.

I’m obviously not an objective observer. But it sure looks like they saw the Elastic Path videos and, without acknowledgement, blatantly ripped off the idea. What do you think?


  1. Wow. Rip off! I also like how they changed the format just enough that you can’t actually claim they copied it. But as any first year student should know, plagiarism of ideas is still plagiarism, even if you rephrased.

  2. Darren,

    I see two things going on here:

    1) Making fun of web-things in the context of real-life application is pretty common these days. The facebook-myspace-google-etc IRL party, for example. Also that board-room meeting where people are yelling out things like “PHOTOSHOPPED” while being presented a chart. Social networking got treated, blogs and forums got treated, and eCommerce is really just another module in the list. It is inevitable that people will give it this treatment.

    2) Looks like you did it first. Can you be sure no one else did it before you? I would want to be sure of that before accusing them of ripping you off specifically. One thing is for sure: 7billion probably wont be the last to draw attention to the incongruencies between clicks-and-mortar shopping and bricks-and-mortar shopping.

    All that said, I think they ripped you off. The storyboarding is nearly identical.

  3. People always seem to get a kick out of the absurdity of web interactions transposed on to face to face interactions. So I vote no on the rip-off and chalk it up to a coincidence

    I don’t think anthropomorphizing online experiences is such an uncommon thing these days. This video is a good example:


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