“Don’t be afraid of ideas. If you hear a good one, steal it. A lot of the most successful 40-year-olds I know have become millionaires without having an original thought darken their brain.”
So said Sam Kekovich on his ARIA nominated ‘hit’ of 2001 by the name of You Know It Makes Sense.
Four years later, as I sat on the couch, those words carried an unexpected resonance. The Australia Day Lamb campaign was a direct rip-off of the character Nick Price and I created, produced and wrote for the long running weekly show ‘…the Fat’. The same themes, the same tag, the same shot – blatant is too gentle a word.
The Fat editorials were our humble satirical shot at talkback and TV jocks. In our world there was no such thing as too small a target nor too ludicrous a leap of logic. Being on hold to Telstra was as important as kids being thrown overboard, and most likely intrinsically connected.
Every script finished with “You Know it Makes Sense” and were recorded in a single tracking shot to enhance their authority.
We looked for a football legend to front the piece, reasoning that sporting celebrity gives credence where ideas may not.
Auditioning players we found the ones with the right amount of menace stumbled over the autocue, and those that could read had problems with the content.
In stepped VFL legend and football commentator Sam Kekovich, who could read with the best of them and had no moral qualms.
We had found the right glove for our hand and over the next four years we wrote and broadcast over a hundred pieces with Sam, and the ABC followed up the CD with a book in 2003, also called You Know It Makes Sense, of TV scripts and new material:
Hate nobody, but make an exception for backpackers. They are dirty goateed idiots who think tofu is a food. If the world’s youth need a role model, look to our Lleyton Hewitt.
It’s easy to hate banks, parking inspectors and Greens. Don’t be afraid. It’s as Australian as sexism, racism and fagism. It’s as Australian as leaving a boatload of sinking refugees.
Sam came with us to Channel Seven for 110% Tony Squires in 2004 and where he touted for a seat in the Senate. Like the show itself, his campaign was ruthlessly cut short.
January 2005 and every time I turn on the TV or radio I see Sam spruiking for lamb, in a very familiar way, and more often then not, the campaign ‘creatives’ telling all how innovative, irreverent and creative they are.
When Nick Price queried the ‘originality’ of the piece to the executive creative director of the campaign, Warren Brown of BMF, on Sally Loane’s Sydney radio show, Brown claimed that the script was written before they approached Sam Kekovich and any resemblance was purely coincidental.
Obviously it was the same serendipity that led BMF to not only use the same themes, language and tag as the ABC segment, but also to shoot it in the same style and to use the cover of the book with the original title airbrushed out, all without getting clearances from the copyright holders.
Have a look at the similarities:
- The ABC original – You know it makes sence.
- The lamb campaign – Lamb on Australia Day. Anything else is un-Australian.
The ABC have confirmed that the art work hasn’t been licensed. Brown denied any knowledge of the book, (though Kekovich told us he sent the agency a copy at their request), but confidently told Loane and her audience that the agency were too thorough and professional to use uncleared material.
Undeniably Sam’s excellence in performing the pieces and the fact that he did so under his own name clouded the water, but to not check authorship is less than professional. Brown’s assertion on Loane’s program that the character was in the public domain is as meaningless as it ridiculous.
BMF’s client, Meat and Livestock Australia were not so shy in crediting Sam’s heritage in their press release to launch the campaign that Sam, “was a regular on the ABC television program the Fat, where he regularly commentated on issues that got under his skin. His statements were politically incorrect and were always signed off with his trademark tag line, ‘You know it makes sense. I’m Sam Kekovich’.”
Obviously what is trademark to the MLA is not a trademark to BMF.
By the way, you can pick the book up for $6.95 at the ABC shop – about the equivalent of 3 lamb cutlets. The album was beaten to the ARIA for best comedy release by the Twelfth Man but we got to meet Brian Cadd at the ceremony.