Publicis Macedonia, Vision Firm Show Love For Same Stock Photo


We've had fun over the years enjoying the pitfalls of stock photography and the seeming inability of those using it to, when warranted, sign for exclusive use. So it is with great pleasure we bring you yet another stock photography goof courtesy of Publicis Macedonia...or BlueStepStudio which had a hand in developing the Publicis site...or Ultralase, the laser eye treatment company that used the same photo.

Yesterday, we were tipped to the striking resemblance (um, identical match) of a model used in an Ultralase ad found on an AOL UK page and another used as the background image of the Publicis Macedonia homepage. Yup, there she is. Looming large, peering out from behind a frame created by her fingers akin to a film director framing a shot.

Much like unfortunate contextual ad placements, identical stock photography appearing in two places in the same industry is disheartening. Hilarious but disheartening all the same. Assuming it came from a legit stock house, is it really that difficult to find out where else the image was used? Would it be that hard for an agency to...gasp...create something original?

Of course, this could all be due to what might be the laser eye treatment company snagging the image right off the Publicis website. Or it could be the laziness of Ultralese's agencies. The UK's ALF directory lists Ultralase's agencies as Doner Cardwell Hawkins and Partners Andrews Aldridge. Neither are listed as Publicis-owned.

Or it could be the other way around. We've asked Publicis Macedonia where they got the image but have not, since yesterday's request, received a response.

UPDATE: We haven't yet heard from Publicis but we have heard from Ultralese's Keith Bond who, in the comment section, explains his company's use of the photo and a timeline which suggests Publicis used this photo after Ultralese did.

by Steve Hall    Dec-18-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Bad, Online, Opinion, Strange   

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This is the model they used:

Posted by: Tim Nolan on December 18, 2007 2:18 PM

Her name is Biljana Hrzenjak

Posted by: Tim Nolan on December 18, 2007 2:22 PM

As Marketing Director of Ultralase, I should like to comment on this article. First of all, though, may I enquire on what grounds Steve Hall asserts that we are allegedly 'sleazy', without, in my view, any grounds for making that claim? What evidence can he bring to bear? In as heavily-regulated a market as the one in which we operate, such allegations can be of a very serious nature.

May I, through your web-site, invite Mr Hall to join me for a day visiting any one of our 17 clinics up and down the land, to see and hear for himself the level of care we devote to the tens of thousands of people in the UK who choose to have their lives transformed by Ultralase every year? As the first in the field in the UK in 1991, we are proud of the levels of care to which we work, within or beyond governmental guidelines.

Secondly, whilst you may experience problems with Publicis Macedonia not commenting, I shall comment. Ultralase purchased the agreement to use this photograph on 1 March 2007. Publicis launched their new site in November 2007, so it is probably safe to assume that they selected this particular photograph after Ultralase did. There is no question as to either our 'snagging the image' as he suggests, or of the 'laziness' of our agencies, as he further suggests. In these circumstances, if there is any egg to be adhered to faces, then I suspect it is more on theirs than on ours, especially as the whole import of what they do and stand for as a company is creativity and differentiation, whereas ours is to help people.

Finally, may I just add that, whilst any use of the same photograph is unfortunate and perhaps disappointing, it is not a crime and is not the end of the world. In an increasingly communications-conscious world with such disparate ways to communicate with an increasingly diverse market, the chances of using the same creative treatment is bound to occur more and more. The particular Ultralase banner advert on which this photo appears plays just a small part in our overall web-communication strategy, which in turn plays just a part in our total communication approach. The plagiarism, if such it is, is not of great significance to us: it might well be to Publicis for the reasons I have mentioned. But, even then, the chances of their target market in Macedonia becoming confused with ours are slight.

Meanwhile, I shall look forward to my meeting Mr Hall when I shall scrutinise his face very closely for signs of egg.

Posted by: KEITH BOND on December 19, 2007 10:33 AM

We are BlueStepStudio and we are completely responsible for the complete creation of the Publicis Macedonia website, from idea to production (copy excepted).
We would like to kindly ask everybody participating this debate to stop referring to Publicis Macedonia once and for all.

As for the record, the project idea was to use a stock photo in a first place, in order to show that ONLY our creativity makes the difference (the creation of the web presence, in this case).
In fact, the results of the website acceptance show exactly that.

So, the real conclusion is that The Creativity CAN MAKE DIFFERENCE!!! And it does!
Not high budgets, neither expensive resources.
Originality? It is a matter of interpretation, not the order of arrival.

The Creativity is Original as a gift and is always expressed only through a hard work.

There could be opened lots of discussion, from remixing to mix&matching, etc.
But we won't add nothing else here.

Even this is too much for a gossip website like this.

But, there is our respectable client Publicis Macedonia and they are so great team - they don't deserve to be in a place like this.
This is for them.
And there we are, a small creative team that is trying to show to the world that Beauty comes right from the Heart.
This for us and for everybody else around that continues to go ahead in the life with pure heart and honest work, no matter all obstacles and unfair battles.

Dear Mr. Hall, we are really sorry that you manage to bother with staff like this right before Christmas.
This is for you:

The Three Things

Chen Ziqin asked Confucius's son: "Does your father teach you something that we don't know?"

The other answered:
"No. Once, when I was alone, he asked if I read poetry.
I said no, and he told me to read some, because poetry opens the soul to the path of divine inspiration.
On another occasion he asked whether I practiced the rituals of adoration of God.
I said no, and he told me to do so, because the act of adoring would make me understand myself.
But he never kept an eye on me to see if I was obeying him.

When Chen Ziqin left, he said to himself:
"I asked one question and was given three answers. I learned something about poetry. I learned something about the rituals of adoration. And I learned that AN HONEST MAN NEVER SPIES ON THE HONESTY OF OTHERS."

("Warrior of the Light" newsletter, Paulo Coelho)

Our message to everybody:
Respect each other, especially respect the hard work, the fight of the others to achieve goals and the beauty.
Inspire yourselves from the better ones and help to everybody that needs it.
Fill yourself with love and you won't be alone.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by: BlueStepStudio on December 19, 2007 4:59 PM

bluestepstudio's website is a total copy of


Posted by: They Copied on December 25, 2007 6:27 PM

Update: To bluestepstudio's credit they immediately took down their website after we contacted them regarding the matter. I don't think the management there realized that their site was a copy.

Posted by: Bad Assembly on December 26, 2007 10:29 PM