Quorn accused of 'ripping off' creator of 2003 viral cartoon 'Badgers'

Quorn accused of 'ripping off' creator of 2003 viral cartoon 'Badgers'

‘See you in Quort!’ Meat-free food company Quorn is blasted by creator of 2003 viral cartoon ‘Badgers’ for ‘blatantly ripping off’ of his work with advert for vegan nuggets

  • Vegan company Quorn Foods UK is accused of ‘ripping off’ cartoonist Mr Weebl 
  • Quorn’s advert shows a group of exercising unicorns, a mushroom and dinosaur 
  • It mirrors Mr Weebl’s famous 2003 meme of badgers, a mushroom and a snake 
  • Mr Weebl, real name Jonti Picking, called them out on copyright infringement

A vegan food manufacturer has found itself in hot water after it was accused of ‘ripping off’ an animator’s copyrighted work in its latest advert.

Quorn Foods UK creates alternative meat products and says it is ‘fighting the good fight for meat-free eating’.

But its latest advert has been accused of plagiarising a popular meme from 2003, created by animator Jonti Picking, who goes by the online alias Mr Weebl.

His animated video titled ‘Badgers’ – which has more than 30million views on YouTube – features a group of badgers dancing in a field, followed by the appearance of a mushroom and a snake. A catchy tune accompanies the clip, with a voiceover repeating what is on screen.

Quorn Foods UK’s advert was published online yesterday and shows off its new uniquorn nuggets. 

The clip portrays a group of similarly drawn unicorns bopping to a song in an almost identical manner. A voiceover repeats ‘uni-quorn, uni-quorn’ followed by a mushroom and a dinosaur, in a format which closely mirrors the 2003 meme.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=EIyixC9NsLI%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26start%3D2%26hl%3Den-US

Look similar? Mr Weebl’s original animation (left) features 12 exercising badgers with a voiceover repeating what is on screen, while Quorn Foods has 12 bouncing unicorns (right) with a similar voiceover


In both clips, the action turns midway to a close-up of a mushroom (pictured left: Mr Weebl’s 2003 meme and right: Quorn UK’s advert)


The ‘scary snake’ from Mr Weebl’s 2003 video (left) is matched by a dinosaur in Quorn Foods UK’s advert published yesterday

Animator Mr Weebl, whose real name is Jonathan ‘Jonti’ Picking, 47, took Quorn Foods UK to task over Twitter. He posted: ‘Who do I contact about the blatant ripping off of my copyrighted work this time?’

Chocolat author Joanne Harris, chair of The Society of Authors, added: ‘Copyright is real too, Quorn Foods UK. If you’re going to use someone’s IP, then ask their permission. And pay them.’

Mr Picking, 47, took them to task on Twitter.

He posted: ‘Who do I contact about the blatant ripping off of my copyrighted work this time?’

Within an hour, Quorn Foods responded with: ‘Hey @TheWeebl, here at Quorn, we are HUGE fans of yours and the iconic Badger, Badger, Badger – it’s been stuck in our head since 2003. If you could please send us a DM with your best email address and phone number, we can chat in more detail.’ 

Within an hour of Mr Weebl’s complaint, Quorn Foods responded with: ‘Hey @TheWeebl, here at Quorn, we are HUGE fans of yours and the iconic Badger, Badger, Badger – it’s been stuck in our head since 2003’

Twitter users were less than impressed with the company’s handling of the situation

Stuart Ashen tweeted: ‘Unbelievably brazen. Burn them with law.’

Warren Christmas wrote: ‘Shameless rip-off. See you in quort!’

But Twitter users were less than impressed with the company’s handling of the situation. 

Stuart Ashen tweeted: ‘Unbelievably brazen. Burn them with law.’

Warren Christmas wrote: ‘Shameless rip-off. See you in quort!’

Christopher Bingham posted: ‘Really poor form, guys. Blatantly stealing someone’s creative work like this. Aren’t you supposed to be an ethical brand?’

Chocolat author Joanne Harris, chair of Society of Authors, added: ‘Copyright is real too, Quorn Foods UK. If you’re going to use someone’s IP, then ask their permission. And pay them.’

Mr Picking himself said he hoped the matter could be settled ‘amicably’.

He tweeted: ‘Somewhere in Leeds a few people’s morning has gone from ‘oh wow, our social stuff is getting some decent views’ to ‘uh oh’. 

‘Just because it’s on the web or a meme doesn’t mean you can use it commercially. If ‘creative’ is in your job title you should know this.

‘Agencies. If you like a particular piece by a creator for a project then you might consider contacting them to see if they would be involved. It’s often their job, and who could do better at working in the style you like than the one who already does it?

‘We may be a little odd at times but we’re generally not horrible. Some are even lovely.’

A Quorn Foods UK spokesman said: ‘While our social media team was of course inspired by the Badger Badger Mushroom video on YouTube, the creator Jonti Picking was not involved in making our ad for UniQuorns. 

‘We are now in positive and amicable discussions, and confident of quickly resolving the issue.’

Mr Picking has been approached for comment by MailOnline.

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