Did AT&T Rip Off Fountains of Wayne in Ad?


There’s a dirty little secret in the advertising business, you can use a catchy song if you change it enough. Songs are copyrighted material and the publisher needs to give permission for a song to be used in a television show or commercial. You can spot a copy when it sounds enough like the original that you recognize it but different enough that it’s clear they’ve changed it. Here is an AT&T ad called “His, Hers, Theirs” which uses a song that instantly caught my attention.

Here is the AT&T ad currently running across the country on major networks.

Compare this to Fountains of Wayne doing Valley Winter Song.

Note the subtle differences and glaring similarities. The original version of this ad used a different song that people on YouTube are driving themselves mad trying to identify. They can’t get it because it’s changed just enough to be hard to identify, but catchy in the way of the original. The best guess is that this is an Interpol song, but I’m not convinced.


By comparison here is a LL Bean commercial that properly licenses the song, notice how they don’t attempt to alter it.

While it is possible that AT&T licensed the song, at least one source claims the music is original to the commercial.

Nylon Studios NY collaborated again with Twin and BBDO NY to create the music for the latest series of spots for AT&T. The contemporary song-style piece was written and sung by in-house composer, Jack Milas.

Image: Flickr

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