Pulling my strings

It’s ironic when an idea is ripped off in a giant way. Publicity stunts are basically built to be recorded and displayed on YouTube, so even more people can experience the event.

Royal De Luxe is a French marionette street theater company that has been around since 1979. They’ve done some amazing work, and some is starting to appear in the U.S. without any credit. A beautiful stunt they did last fall was to commemorate the 20yr anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A giant marionette girl and her uncle, a diver, were created with a story that came to life throughout that day.

Mayflower Moving company has done some new commercials that are appearing nationwide. You can check out their YouTube commercial to see all of the spots, but they use a giant marionette doll that’s eerily similar to the Berlin Reunion stunt Royal De Luxe did Oct. ’09. Grey Advertising in NYC is behind the stunt and hired The Character Shop to help produce the 20ft doll.

I can’t imagine what it costs to build a doll like that, and then shoot the commercials. But if you’re going to spend that kinda $$$, why don’t you spend a little time creating a unique concept?

Also, JWT Sydney made a 9m doll for a TV commercial stunt in June ’09, but the PR at least gives some reference to the “French puppet.”

Not saying big dolls are ownable, but the grace and beauty of the marionettes in the Berlin work is totally cheapened by the Mayflower stuff. It’s almost made creepy.


Mayflower Doll

Mayflower Moving Commercial 2010 – the complete journey


Royal de Luxe doll

Le Rendeze-vous de Berlin, Royal de Luxe


Posted by vlrkv6  |  19 Comments  |  in Advertisement


  1. fugg u 06/07/2010 12:50 am

    “Not saying big dolls are ownable”

    uh then what are you even saying has been copied?

    and it blows my mind that you think the mayflower marionette is creepy, but the french one is not. all marionettes are inherently creepy. for you to think that the doll that is licking a popsicle is LESS creepy than the one that is not is dumbfounding.

  2. Jods 06/07/2010 2:45 am

    It’s an idea. You can’t copyright an idea. Failpost.

  3. SS 06/07/2010 2:58 am

    This is a really dumb post. This is the kind of cool idea that SHOULD be attempted and explored by other people. It’s like saying that only Rube Goldberg is allowed to make Rube Goldberg machines, since he came up with the idea first!

  4. Maaike 06/07/2010 10:23 am

    Ideas are not copyrighter but with such a strong idea it does feel like a rip. It’s great that such ideas are being ‘explored’ (like SS says) but in this case they just ripped everything without taking it any further. They didn’t add anything of their own to it, so I think it’s fair that it’s posted here. Even though it’s not a legal rip.

  5. Jess 06/07/2010 10:30 am

    You know, at first I thought your post was total bullshit. you have to watch the videos to see the similarities. Their walks are almost identical. That said, it’s not something that can be sued over. And the French one is a lot creepier. She may have a greater range of emotions, but that acordian mouth is the stuff that makes little kids afraid to sleep in the same room as dolls.

  6. Wut 06/07/2010 10:43 am

    That they both end with arranging the girl in a giant chair at the end was the kicker for me. There’s so many other things Mayflower could have done. It’s like copying a competitor’s generic product and then deciding to put a bad knock-off of your competitor’s logo on it. How can you be that lazy?

  7. Jess 06/07/2010 10:51 am

    Also, I think you’re being WAY too kind to the JWT Sydney add. They mention the ‘French doll’, yes, but they also blast it for being too ponderous and expensive in the same article and claim that their’s is ‘generations ahead’ of the French one because they did mechanical face movements instead of string-driven. And that’s only in the PR, it’s not like they mention it in the add, or even bother to give a name so the original could get any credit from it. They’re pretty big douches too, imo

  8. aya 06/07/2010 12:38 pm

    first of all, the images doesn’t even look the same.

    second, big people in a small city had been done in Gulliver travel and been used since then in about a million things.

    Third, the meaning of the 2 images are entierly different, and don’t even try to express similar things.

  9. Renee N. 06/08/2010 2:58 am

    It is a similar concept, yes…but there so many big puppets have been done. Here are 2 more:

    And I have seen one in South America, BIG soccer player. Plus the Big Blue Man in Scotland. How do you do a giant puppet like a marionette? You must have a grid to suspend it and move it..so they all have that. And to make walk? Wheels, on a crane, supports the arms and the grids.

    So there are so few, they tend to look like another

    I think the Royal De Luxe work is wonderful..too bad the Mayflower puppet was not a boy…they would have avoided such claims!

    But I think the Mayflower girl is prettier! No neck slashing, no mouth slashing. Not so many people working her. Not so complicated on the wires and every person clamber on the grids! My opinion: not ripoff, but if any thing…homage!

  10. fugg u 06/08/2010 3:53 am

    “Their walks are almost identical.”

    are you kidding me with this? they’re fucking string puppets. they all move the same way.

  11. Angus 06/17/2010 1:54 pm

    Here it is in another form..


  12. MW Wilson 06/21/2010 6:08 am

    there is a television commercial i saw recently using these identical, large marionettes.

    if i see it again, i will post another reply.

    it is just fresh in my mind because i saw it yesterday.

  13. Keith Mirenberg 07/13/2010 1:33 pm

    Hey Guys, it isn’t just a marionette, it is a huge oversized one whose motions look odd and disconcerting on first viewing. Overall I like the add, but it is very creepy on first view because most of us have never watched such a large string puppet.

    Have you noticed the lastest trend for TV commercials to shock the viewer into waking up with something odd happening on the screen or an extremely loud (and rude) announcement or audio effect? I asked my wife if she remembers the product that was just forced into our collective consciousness and she could not.

    The latest breed of TV spot usually rudely gets our attention with a visually “strange” view, loud noise (i.e., sudden unrelated yelling, engines and motor cycle noise, sirens and the like) and then leaves us with no memory of what product they are selling by not enven showing the product log or audibly repeating the products name.

  14. Ad Guy 07/29/2010 5:30 pm

    That is a nasty advert, I don’t think anyone even knows what that stupid ad is about.

  15. Gus the Gamer 08/03/2010 7:06 am

    DUDE, its a Fn Puppet!!

  16. Edward Taylor 08/10/2010 4:17 pm

    Compared to Royal De Luxe this puppet is really pretty crappy.

    Given that little kids queue up to swing on the RdL puppet when she kneels down those posting through concern for the young can rest easy in their beds.

    No comparison – the RdL show is a 4 day long story with a fascinating interplay between the operators and the puppet. This ad is all about the image on TV

    Ideas being exploree someone upthread said. How is selling product exploring the ancient art of puppetry? whereas a 4 day long show with nothing to sell does exactly that

  17. k-zumi 11/08/2010 9:59 am


  18. armando 01/24/2011 8:47 pm

    another shitty ripoff from Forum internacional de las culturas 2007 in Mexico


    he looks like that kid from high school musical

  19. Frank Schwarting 03/26/2012 8:05 pm

    Thank you so much for producing the write-up Pulling my strings – you thought we wouldn't notice . I couldn’t know these details, i really will keep it useful right now so i could reference it in the future.

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