It's finally summer! And nothing says summer more than getting deep into the American wilderness to enjoy the mountains, the trees, lakes and streams.
If you can imagine it, the picture in your head might remind you of Firewatch, Campo Santo's wilderness adventure game. It seems the folks at Ford agree, too. So much so, they decided to use some of the game's art to promote their summer sale.
Panic Inc, co-producers of Firewatch, were sent a message from a fan on Twitter. They were shocked to see key art from the game used for an email campaign from a local Ford dealership.
Campo Santo's co-founder, Sean Vanaman also saw the tweet and weighed in:
Come on down to the Quirk Ford Freedom Sales event where ur free from such things as "copyright" and "infringement!" https://t.co/78HMQdyJqy— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) June 27, 2016
When looking closer at the tweet, the email comes from Quirk Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealership. Most dealerships are privately owned and manage their own local campaigns on top of larger campaigns set forth by companies like Ford. In this case, the email was a part of Quirk's campaign for Ford's Freedom sales event.
This could have been a fluke. Perhaps the person running the email campaigns at Quirk Ford thought the imagery of Firewatch was interesting enough to fit the campaign. They dug up a picture of Firewatch and drafted the email campaign for their local market. Perhaps Ford had nothing to do with this.
But then our own Nick Robinson tweeted this:
While the art in the commercial is not Campo Santo's art, it's similar.
It raises the question of whether or not Ford at large dictated an overarching visual direction for the campaign. From my experience in the ad agency world and working with similar clients, the direction of campaigns is typically set in unison by the client, in this case Ford, and the agency.
Who knows what happened, but maybe a dealership looking to put its own spin on things went hunting for art on the internet that matched Ford's overall campaign style. Usually, a nationwide campaign like this would have a set of visual assets sent to all partners in a .zip file or Dropbox link. Either that didn't happen here, or maybe Firewatch's visuals were part of that asset package.
A quick Google search for the image used in the ad can be found on Campo Santo's blog
Game Informer reached out to the dealership to learn more about how they sourced the image. In their article, the dealership claimed to source the image from this site, claiming all their imagery is DMCA compliant. However, the site itself claims no creator on the image or source.
A quick Google search for the image used in the ad can actually be found directly on Campo Santo's blog. The image that the dealership pointed to has the same dimensions as the original on Campo Santo's site, but with an added 200 pixels at the bottom of the image.
We reached out to both the Quirk Ford dealership and Ford's corporate marketing team in regards to these seemingly lifted visuals. A manager at Quirk Ford immediately turned us away, pointing fingers instead at Ford corporate. A representative from Ford redirected us to its advertising team, upon whom we await further comment.
We also reached out to Campo Santo for comment, but have yet to hear back.
Update: Quirk Ford issued an apology via Twitter, which Sean Vanaman and Campo Santo replied to: