The spread of COVID-19 has made advertising production very challenging. A number of projects we were working on have either been put on hold or cancelled entirely due the work being impossible to produce.

As creative agencies adapt to the parameters this strange new world has imposed, we’ve been encouraging them to consider the power of licensing existing clips from movies, TV and animation in their work.

Additionally, with most of the development of animation unaffected by COVID-19, there is an opportunity to align with Rights Holders to develop custom animation.


One of our favourite campaigns which licensed existing clips from films, TV shows and animations comes from arguably the most creative company on the planet, Apple.

This spot from 2007 premiered during the 79th Academy Awards to an audience of over 40 million. It was a big moment for Apple as it was their first commercial for the iPhone. The 30 second spot featured over 31 ‘hello’s from famous movies and television shows in chronological order. Created by TBWAMedia Arts Lab, it features licensed clips from I Love Lucy, The Flintstones, Amelie, Fargo, Anchorman, Sex and the City, The Incredibles and many more. 

Competitor Samsung may have been inspired by Apple’s success when they released a somewhat similar campaign to  promote their new digital watch. It’s been labelled as one of Samsung’s best commercials ever and includes a great mix of over 20 movies, TV shows and animations, all of which feature a character using a futuristic watch. Created by 72andSunny, the licensed clips show characters from Get Smart, Inspector Gadget, Knightrider and The Jetsons speaking into their wrist device, something that Samsung wanted the world to know was no longer only a fictional activity. 

Cartoon characters have been appearing in advertising campaigns through custom animation for decades. One of the earliest examples we could find dates back to the early 1960’s when fruit drink additive brand Tang sponsored The Bugs Bunny Show. This campaign stars popular Looney Tunes characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Since then creative agencies and brands have embraced the idea of aligning with animators to create brilliant work that has been developed solely for a particular campaign. 

One of the most high profile examples is a Coca-Cola spot from Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, developed by Wieden + Kennedy Portland.

Fast forward to Super Bowl LIV earlier this year, where the brand Pringles launched a campaign using custom animation of popular Adult Swim animation Rick and Morty. Created by Grey Group and Adult Swim, the 30 spot was considered one of the successes from this years Super Bowl ad line up, which is always extremely competitive. 

The process of licensing existing clips from movies, TV shows and cartoons is very different when compared to the process of created custom animation.

Depending on the Rights Holder, licensing existing clips can be relatively quick providing you’re speaking with the right people. However it’s important to keep in mind that any talent that appear in the clip will most likely require separate clearance, as would any music, voice overs or other third party owned material.

Creating custom animation is a much longer and often more expensive process. Once the creative has been agreed on, the development can take up to 1 month per 10 seconds of content. So a 60 second spot could take up to 6 months to animate. It really depends on the animator, their schedule and the complexity of the animation. Any voice over featuring in the spot will often need to be cleared separately too. 

Are you interested in licensing existing clips from movies, TV shows or animation  in your advertising? Or are you keen on exploring featuring famous animated characters in custom animation? Get in touch with the Born Licensing team:!