Juice company rips off Get Your War On

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.


The makers of Jamba Juice have ripped off David Rees' Get Your War On in a new ad campaign. To his credit, Ree's has taken the assault like a man, organizing a National Day of Prayer to "pray our way across America, destroying Jumby Juice franchises left and right..."

Still, he has some words for the ad's creators:

Whoever made this ad is probably a 22 year-old "creative" at some ad agency in Tech Valley, CA. Way to think outside the box, sonny. Have fun snorting cocaine at the nightclub you go to with your friends who work at Twitter or wherever. And no, Adult Swim will NOT buy your stupid cartoon you're developing with your housemates about four guys who work at an ad agency but are secretly lobsters.

No Justice, Part II: Boycott Jamba Juice! (MNFTIU) via Consumerist
(Thanks, Sean!)


  1. Got to say, I find this post slightly mystifying, given BB’s general stance w/r/t open source, copyright, etc. To be clear: the ads are a bummer — transparently lifted from GYWO, and furthermore, unfunny. “First person to sue Jamba Juice on my behalf can KEEP ALL THE MONEY,” Rees writes. That’s a joke, sure, but it raises a nontrivial question: is there ground for a lawsuit here? Should there be? On what basis, exactly — Rees’s “rounded-edge text box with single line pointing to mouth” balloon style?

    What if the roles were reversed? That is, if Rees borrowed the visual lexicon of an uninspired Jamba Juice campaign and remixed it as political satire? My guess is that Jamba Juice would sue him, and that the sympathies of Boing Boing and its readership would tend toward Reese.

    I’m all for the cause of the little guy, and it’s a big drag to see your creative work lifted and monetized by hacks — particularly corporate hacks. But it seems to me, when the emotional hangover wears off, that the philosophical issues here may not favor Rees and GYWO. Thoughts?

  2. Glad to see this making the rounds.

    Carrie- Sorry to see StayFree go. I have the issue that came with the Archers of Loaf 7″ somewhere. I think that was more when you were music and less media theory though :) Either way, both incarnations are missed.

  3. Yeah, I have to agree with CHURCH. Isn’t this fair use? Even David Rees admits the clip art is public domain.

  4. This hurts me. Something I love has stolen and trespassed upon my trust. Worst of all, in a worthless advertising campaign.

  5. If I was in his situation, instead of calling for a boycott, I’d just put the ad in my own portfolio.

  6. Here is how I am going to approach this injustice.

    1) print out a stack of Get Your War On comics and label each with a price, $1 each seems fair.
    2) walk down to Jimba Juice.
    3) mill about first and slyly place the comics in their retail area.
    4) place an order for my whole department.
    3) stall so they start the order, but when time to pay I say “oops, I left my wallet in the car!”
    4) walk out.

  7. This is less of a rip-off than Rees’s own animated GYWO, which is a travesty of the brilliant original: no swearing, humorless, and, ugh, animated.

    That said, this is one shitty ad.

  8. I’m not exactly sure why “Fair Use” is immediately trotted out here. To my knowledge, “Fair Use” isn’t used interchangeably with “Not A Shitty Thing To Do.” Though no laws were broken, do you honestly believe these particular pictures would have been chosen were it not for GWYO?

    Also, I’m not sure how to boycott a product I’ve never seen, tried or probably would try, but I’ll give it a whirl.

  9. I dunno – if it’s public domain clip-art, it’s not really “stealing”, is it? I mean, it doesn’t have the same typeface and red ink as Get Your War On.

    It IS, however, pretty crappy that the guy/girl who did this couldn’t at least have found some DIFFERENT public domain clip art to use. At least then it would have been a little less obvious.

    This does make me feel pretty “bleh” about Jamba Juice (but I felt that way about them before – a company that acts like it’s all into the environment but serves its products in styrene cups is not really all that into the environment, they’re into making MONEY).

  10. No creative bushido points here. You get paid to come up with crap, not to copy it. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

  11. Ironic clip art is your invention. Gotcha. Ask Ivan Stang about that one. And rounded box with a single line is also a brand-new style of caption bubble. Oki doke.

  12. So…wait…everyone in this thread thinks that GYWO was the first person to take stock clip art and add amusing captions to them?


  13. Oh come on all you people with the it’s-not-technically-stealing how’s-this-any-different-from-what-he-does nonsense.

    Yes, the drawings are public domain. But the whole reason why they’re interesting is GYWO. This company wouldn’t have used them if it weren’t for GYWO. The entire thing is a complete, if legal, rip-off.

    Imagine if Coke did this with Dinosaur Comics! Would it be fine for T-Rex to shill Diet Coke?

    dderidex: that’s a bit like saying “waddya mean, ‘I’m ripping off Michelangelo?’ You think he was the first person to invent painting things?”

    The fact that other people have also used clip-art is completely irrelevant to the fact this this is ripping-off GYWO, and trying to appeal to the GYWO crowd, in the most un-ironic way.

  14. I think it’s pretty clear that Ree’s made use of public domain art to turn it into a highly unique and identifiable new work. If not, no one would have instantly identified Jamba’s ad with his work, and they wouldn’t be ripping off something so identifiable and popular for their own gain.

    I’d love to know what the “mehs” do for day jobs. Not creative work for income I’d bet.

  15. Bald-faced stealing is inexcusable. He shirked his creative responsibility by doing everything the same as GYWO.

    Against copyright law? Who gives a crap. This kid should be fired.

  16. SAMSAM, I can’t help but notice you didn’t spice up your comment with overtly snide asides, nor did you feature grammatical representations of verbal pauses and inflections to represent just how doggone silly other people and their points of view are. In fact, I think you may have only put forth an actual argument, and in no way let them know you were better than them for your stance.

    How come?

  17. @14 Samsam

    “The drawings are interesting because of GYWO?” Really? So Dover collected them all and published them hoping some webcomic would make them interesting? That’s a pretty poor business decision on their part, although fortunately GYWO was up to the task.

    Anybody ask Dover what their thoughts on the matter are? Or Tom Tierney, for that matter?

  18. “The drawings are interesting because of GYWO?” Really?

    Of course. You know that perfectly well. Before GYWO they were generic clip art. Now they’re generic clip art from GYWO. That’s why the ad used them.

    If I paint a painting that includes a big Campbell’s tomato soup can, it’s interesting (or a rip off) because of Warhol’s painting. I don’t say “what’s Warhol got to do with this? Isn’t Capbell’s tomato soup interesting enough on its own?

  19. Well, only speaking for myself here… but I’m going to try some of that juice now that I’ve seen it on Boing Boing. I think they have it downstairs.

    MMmmmmmm, delicious! Two thumbs up!

  20. “Before GYWO they were generic clip art. Now they’re generic clip art from GYWO.”

    Careful, that’s how the public domain gets fenced off.

    “Well, it *was* public domain, but since so-and-so used it, it’s his now.”

    I don’t have a problem with his bitching about the similarities (and I suspect Jamba doesn’t either) but the attitude that he has a legal recourse (or would have if he could afford it) is downright dangerous. I’ve used clipart a bunch of times. Do I need to make sure it’s not an “iconic representation of some webcomic” before I use it?

  21. I mean, there are just so many mistakes in this. 22-year-old creative? Please, 22 is way too old for a creative at an ad agency. At 22 you should be a senior partner or something. Everyone knows the 17-year-old intern does all the real work. And Tech Valley, CA? What is this, 1999? There hasn’t been a west coast ad agency north of Ventura since Pets.com was still around. It’s like, do your homework.

  22. “Public Domain” means that ANYONE can use it. If you are using public domain art, you really can’t bitch if someone else uses it. Period. It isn’t even YOUR work to bitch about in the first place.

    this is, by the way, why I will never again use a piece of public domain art for an album cover…no matter how fitting.

  23. @Church

    Who said there should be a legal recourse?

    Something can be simultaneously legal, to the extent that I’d defend it in court on principle, but also sleazy.

  24. Aren’t they ripping off the style of GYWO, instead of a specific strip, which would be protected? Jim Davis ostensibly ripped off Bill Griffith by stealing “are we having fun yet?” from Zippy to use it for Garfield. Was that line copyrighted? Married to the Sea uses 19th century clip art. Are they ripping off Max Ernst’s Une Semaine de Bonte? Where does the line get drawn, or clipped in this case?

    I’m not going to boycott Jamba Juice because they made an ad that’s stylistically the same as an ironic webcomic. I’m boycotting them because a 24 ounce Chunky Strawberry Smoothie With Organic Granola has 450 calories, more than a beef Chalupa from Taco Bell, (410).

  25. Détournement is fair play. The avant-garde gets to mash-up the mainstream to make a point, and the mainstream gets to mash-up the avant-garde to make a buck. This is one of the basic ground-rules of the postmodern art game.

  26. Wow! MORE calories than an BEEF CHALUPA! It must have WHIPPED ESSENCE of BETTY GRABLE in it!

  27. @29 Yesno

    “Something can be simultaneously legal, to the extent that I’d defend it in court on principle, but also sleazy.”

    Meh. One man’s ‘sleazy’ is another’s ‘clever appropriation.’ And defending it… on principle is what I’m doing here.

    If you’re dealing in Public Domain images to begin with, you have to know that the bar is way the hell down on the floor from jump.

    Seriously, this is “I used clipart to make a comic. They used the same clip art to make a different comic. TO SELL STUFF!!!1!BASTARDS!!”

  28. I searched all around the internets and couldn’t find the clip art that both use..

    So it’s apparently not too well distributed, so the j.j. designers had to seek out the artwork, or re-purpose some of the GYWO art.

    Revenge? all he has to do is compose some unflattering parodies of the ad. “gotta go to the bathroom again, that fruit drink gave me the runs.”

  29. @33 Webmonkees

    Go to a bookstore, ask for “Dover clip-art catalogs.” You’ll find it. Some of the GYWO art is on the cover.

  30. It’s funny that this David Rees mocks the ad’s creators for not being suitably creative and for taking shortcuts in their work, when his own comic strip uses re-purposed clip art instead of original drawings.

    His creative effort is based or re-purposing, and he expresses outrage when someone re-purposes his own work?


    (Actually, reading Rees’ blog, I think he’s very aware of the irony of his “outrage”, and is having a big laugh about this himself.)

  31. @36 Nosehat

    “(Actually, reading Rees’ blog, I think he’s very aware of the irony of his “outrage”, and is having a big laugh about this himself.)”

    Yeah, I’m getting the same vibe. (And I think Jamba is also loving this whole thing. (No bad publicity, etc.))

    What worries me is that this is going to embed itself as a meme into casual watchers, who will then be more open to the idea of “moral rights.” (Still intending to skullfuck the corpse of Voltaire for that concept, BTW)

  32. I think the Art Director for this project needs to be identified and have this albatross tied around their neck for life. Would you hire the microencephalic who ripped-off GYWO? Get that name associated with that act out on the internets so that any search of the reprobate’s name are permanently linked to their d-baggery.

  33. More than questions about legality or cultural appropriation, I just have to wonder exactly what Jawa Juice was trying to accomplish here.

    Option 1: “Clip-art Internet Comics poll favorably with the 26-39 male Obama-supporting Facebook user demographic, with tight crossover into the Ironic Hipster segment of… hey, are you even listening?”

    Option 2: Stoned marketing intern realizes he has a presentation at the home office in two hours

  34. Never heard of GYWO.

    Took two minutes to peruse the website. It sucks.

    Jamba Juice: Next time, rip off something creative and funny.

  35. Yes, douchey but not illegal. And Rees’ comments about the creative guy are pretty much spot on (although I’m guessing NY not CA).

    However, I’m not going to boycott Jamba Juice because of this ad. I’m going to boycott it because it tastes like shit.

  36. The original creator of MNFTIU is missing an opportunity. Give Jamba Juice fair-warning, but if they want to persist without crediting the original creator then he has a great rebuttal. Wait until Jamba Juice has gotten some mindshare with this advertising campaign, and then remix THEIR advertisments to make a message about jamba juice. Using, of course, the parody protections of fair-use.

  37. Sleazy and legal = Sleagal. Art, in this case, GYWO, comments on consumerism by using clip art instead of drawing it. This stylistic convention gets appropriated by some cubicle monkey at an ad agency so that they can associate hipsterism with their poor quality product. And besides, don’t people actually draw their own stuff any more?

    @32: I’m going to try that Beef Chalupa smoothie, they call it the Carne Suavita, now.

  38. @46: Sleazy and legal = Sleagal. Art, in this case, GYWO, comments on consumerism by using clip art instead of drawing it. This stylistic convention gets appropriated by some cubicle monkey at an ad agency so that they can associate hipsterism with their poor quality product.

    I agree with you, except for the “poor quality product” part. You can go into Jamba Juice and order a smoothie or a juice that is made simply from fresh fruits and vegetables, with nothing else added. Compare this to a smoothie at Baskin Robbins if you want to see what a really unhealthy poor quality product looks like.

    Also, they’ve added slow-cooked steel-cut oatmeal as a breakfast item. Just steel-cut oats, cooked. You can add raisins or brown sugar if you want. Compare this to any of the breakfast items from any other fast food.

    Jamba Juice is a real oasis for a health-conscious traveling vegan.

  39. Oh come on! They took these frames directly from GYWO and pasted in their own dialogue and logo. Musta taken all of 2 minutes.

    The band Cake, though they pre-dated GYWO with the clip art aesthetic covering all of their work, has never had a problem with others doing the same. If you ‘shopped their graphics, I’d wager they would, however.

    Its really pretty simple: Translated into music, if someone used all pub. domain samples in making a composition, it would still be uniquely theirs to copyright. If corporate hacks used this piece to schlock their wares, they would be stealing.

  40. #47 Or, you could buy some fruits and eat them, and save all that money! You could even buy them from a farmer’s market!

    I’m surprised nobody’s brought up the differences between this kerfuffle and the Calvin & Hobbes vs. the kid peeing on the ford/chevy/etc thing. THAT is copyright infringement – Calvin was very much a visually new thing. Clip art ain’t new, but if you do something creative with it, that’s new. But it’s still public domain.

    If the GYWO guy had drawn his own art that -LOOKED- like clipart, and then somebody used -THAT- for an ad campaign, well, then you can sue, or be upset, or whatever. But the ad guy was engaging in the manipulation of public domain works, just like the GYWO guy did.

    Also Jamba Juice sucks.

  41. PlanetTom @ #43

    Are you kidding?

    First, there’s no way you could possibly have come even close to reading all of GYWO in two minutes.

    Second, GYWO is one of the most savagely funny things ever.

  42. As clip art they were single ‘items’, distinctly seperate, then Rees made them co-workers, gave them (custom-designed) bubbles & hundred of comic strips building personalities between them. Due to him the two became one comic strip. This juice company stole that. They stole that knowing that their demographic had seen these charecters. They traded on the cool factor that stealing this imagery would give them.

    So, the clip art is public domain, but what they stole was content made over time by one person.

    Boycott that corporation.


  43. The best part of this controversy is that more people have been introduced to Rees and GYWO.

    Know Justice, No Juice!!

  44. Yeah, that’s pretty distasteful. It’d be stupid to sue, since it’s all public domain clip art, but not giving credit, or money to David Rees is just bad form.

    Can’t say it’s going to be hard boycotting Jamba, I’ve had exactly one of their drink products, and I knew then I’d never need another.

  45. Most clip art is only fair game if you’ve paid for it. I’d be interested to find out if the ad company came by that clip art legitimately (i.e., bought it from the same source as Rees) or just scanned some GYWO comics and changed the dialogue.

  46. It really breaks my heart that people have been so conditioned by bullshit that they can’t see stealing when its right in front of their face.

    Your conditioning has you thinking that giving free music away or selling a book might be stealing, while selling used books is not. OR you think that ripping every creative idea off is A-OK. Thinking critically is hard in this day and age, I understand that. But, really? There’s even a discussion?

    The weirderst part of this whole “controversy” is: where is the right-wing indignation? Jamba Juice happily appropriates a comic that openly hates everything the right stands for, and rips it to shreds coinstantly. Where is the O’Reilly/Limbaugh army? If some company tried to appropriate Micheal Moore or Moveon or Jane Fonda, wouldn’t they go batshit insane?

    Where’s the right-wing outrage? How unpopular is the Republican party these days? A savagely anti-right comic is appropriated by a juice company? And all anybody cares about is the lagality of apporopriated clip art?

    I have a weird art blog at garf1.com. I appropriate art all the time. This is different.

  47. “I appropriate art all the time. This is different.”

    My art is transformative. His is derivative. Yours is theft.

  48. Isn’t the licensing a bit more complext than that, even for things like clipart?

    For example, use in a webcomic and use in an (for profit?) ad campaign would require different permissions, wouldn’t it?…

    Not sure how copywrong law works in the US anyway, but I’m reasonably sure how consumer culture works – if enough word gets around it will probably do more harm than good for Jamba Juices bottom line.

  49. The irony here is hilarious – GYWO is funny and creative, but not original. At least the premise of repurposing clipart. It’s been done, many times to much lesser and (and sometimes greater) effect than GYWO.

    The thing here is it’s being done for money, for a big corporation. Sure it’s a rip, but it’s not that far from what GYWO does, even if it’s done better, or with a somewhat greater intent than to sell juice.

    And thanks – goodbye afternoon. I’ll be reading GYWO for at least the next hour.

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