Darrell Lea issued cease-and-desist after remaking iconic ‘Not Happy Jan’ advertisement

Not Happy Jan

A still from the Darrell Lea's take on the iconic 'Not Happy Jan' ad. Source: Akkomplice.

Australian chocolate retailer Darrell Lea has received a cease-and-desist from Yellow Pages producer Sensis after it released a recent advertisement which was a near shot-for-shot remake of the 2000 classic ‘Not Happy, Jan’.

The advertisement, which Darrell Lea has since taken down, featured Australian actress Deborah Kennedy reprising her role as the disgruntled boss questioning her employee Jan about why their ad wasn’t in the Yellow Pages (called ‘the directory’ in the remade version).

However, instead of losing her temper at the fleeing employee, Kennedy pulls out a block of Darrell Lea chocolate and takes a bite, which calms her.

The ad ends with Kennedy yelling ‘no worries, Jan’ to the employee as she runs down the street.

With the same actor and a near-perfect recreation of the office environment, the two ads are incredibly similar, so much so that Sensis has issued Darrell Lea and advertising agency Akkomplice with a cease-and-desist letter, demanding they remove the ad from circulation.

“We are flattered that Darrell Lea has used our iconic Yellow Pages advertising, featuring ‘Not Happy Jan’. However, it has been used without our consultation or approval,” Yellow Pages executive general manager James Ciuffetelli said in a statement.

“To see the Yellow Pages brand, which is iconic and trusted by many Australians, and our beloved character Jan, used by another company for commercial gain, is a total shock to us and our customers.”

“By imitating our ad, we believe it is misleading to consumers. It’s clear on social media that a number of people believe Yellow Pages has endorsed this campaign which is not the case.”

Darrell Lea has since removed the advertisement, reports CMO, and says it will send Sensis chocolate to apologise. The company has also replaced the advertisement with a different one, this time featuring Jan sharing some chocolate with a fellow employee.

“Darrell Lea believes that chocolate makes things better. Seeking to communicate this message, we wanted to celebrate a classic Australian television ad and give it a modern twist,” the company said in a statement.

“As an Australian company with a 92-year heritage, we wanted to give an iconic ad a new lease of life, and from the comments we received, the response was extremely positive.”

Despite the company’s replication of the iconic ad, response from punters was largely supportive, with many people on social media praising the new take.

“[Your] marketing department are geniuses, bravo…you guys did yellowpages [sic] a favour,” one supporter said on Facebook.

“It is important for advertisers and agencies to protect their work, creativity and innovation. This advert is so loved, we feel we share it with the Australian people, and we believe it is right to protect this from being cheapened to sell chocolate,” Ciuffetelli said.

Speaking to SmartCompany, director of InsideOut PR Nicole Reaney says the remake has been a publicity win for Darrell Lea, even with the brand being forced to take the ad down.

“It’s been worthwhile as a means of generating brand attention. A consumer’s core interest is the appeal and relevance of ads, and many people would perceive the humour and reflect back on the times the ad brings up for them,” she says.

However, Reaney advises other companies to veer away from adopting a similar strategy.

“There needs to be a degree of analysis and research if a company was to take on an iconic brand through its advertising, as there are a number of factors to consider,” she says.

Darrell Lea was purchased by private equity firm Quadrant for $200 million at the beginning of last year, despite collapsing into administration in 2012. Post-collapse, the company was bought by the Quinn family, who undertook a long restructuring and revitalisation plan for the business, leading it to a successful sale.

SmartCompany contacted Darrell Lea and Akkomplice for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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The Riddick
The Riddick
2 years ago

That’s pathetic!
In a time where Sensis becomes more irrelevant by the day, this non-competitive tip-of-the-hat to an advertisement that has part of the Australian idiom, this is just the thing that the extremely short-sighted management at Sensis should be supporting. It would have made Sensis relevant again for 15 minutes of nostalgia – now it will just fade further into the ether as punters show their disgust at such pettiness.

2 years ago

I think with the irrelevance of Yellow Pages today it would actually benefit from the connection with Darrell Lea rather than being hurt by it.