Jamba Juice’s new ad campaign has quickly turned from homage to failure. 

The company’s new “cubicle-cation” spots are a riff on corporate malaise, using stock images of office workers from Clip Art to present the brand as a salve for office boredom.

But the images, from the workers to the speech bubbles and fonts, bare a striking resemblance to satirical comic strip Get Your War On.

The creator of that strip, David Rees, is not happy about the similarities. He says Jamba Juice is a “bunch of balloon biters” and has taken to the Internet in protest. He’s calling for a boycott and a National Day of
Prayer to “pray our way across America, destroying Jumby Juice
franchises left and right.”

Rees’ objections may be mostly sarcastic, but the lesson is not.

Amidst declining same store sales, overexpanded franchises and the company’s falling stock price, the juice chain is looking to win over younger customers.

Jamba Juice and Neighbor, the ad agency who created the spot, did not steal any of Rees’ images. Rees himself snagged them off of Clip Art.  But the concept is so similar that it almost seems like the ads were created in collaboration.

And Rees is not happy with that fact. He tells FastCompany: “I don’t want to sound like a grumpy, old egomaniac. But I
don’t want people to think I was commissioned by Jamba Juice to make a
lame Internet ad about their lame juice. That makes me sound like a
sellout, and I’m not.”

Jamda Juice and Neighbor aren’t commenting on the posts, but according to Rick Webb, COO of Barbarian Group: “It’s another case of advertising borrowing culture from
something cooler than it. This can be good and bad, depending on the
execution. It’s a thin line between hommage and theft. The problem
here is that it’s fairly clearly meant to be hommage. It’s just too
blatant.”

Jamba Juice was clearly hoping to tap into the cache of the comic by using the images and writing in a similar tone, but instead the company has created a growing group of people upset with the brand online.

Rees is also upset about what he perceives as a lack of humor in the ads. He writes on his blog:

“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.”

The lesson? Paying homage to a popular concept today only works with proper attribution. At the moment, Consumerist, FastCompany and BoingBoing have all picked up the story. And mentions of Jamba Juice on Twitter are quickly trending negative.

Rees has been spurred on by the response his grass roots efforts have gotten. He writes today:

“Yes! Our movement is growing! Next step: Figure out what color to
change our twitter avatars to. What color represents the exact opposite
of juice? Maybe… brown? Or does Jockle Juice sell a brown ‘Choco-berry
Cocoa Quinoa Bomb’ juice for $14.99?”

Images: Top, Jamba Juice. Bottom, GYWO