Did Esurance steal its Candy Crush ad from a popular Vine star?

Vine star Michael LoPriore had some choice words for auto insurance company Esurance on Friday. The creative genius behind the account with 1.5 million followers says that Esurance stole his idea for its advertisement, “Shirlee: Candy Crush Enthusiast.

LoPriore’s vine, “How to Play Ghetto Candy Crush,” was published in June 2013 and features the viner smashing pieces of candy on the concrete with a hammer. His video parodies the popular and highly addicting Candy Crush Saga mobile game, in which players match colorful pieces of candy to score points and advance levels.

In the Esurance video launched in August that’s racked up more than 1 million views, Shirlee chats with what the viewer can only assume is her baffled grandson about the Candy Crush game as she sits at the dining room table while—you guessed it—bashing on pieces of hard candy with a hammer.

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“I honestly don’t know what to do,” LoPriore told the Daily Dot in an email. “I feel like I deserve at least some recognition if they’re going to make money off my idea.”

There are striking similarities between the two videos, which LoPriore’s fans have pointed out in the YouTube comments and on Twitter. But Esurance told LoPriore the company hadn’t seen his vine until he tweeted at them. 

The idea itself is pretty clever, considering how obsessed people get over the simple puzzle game. Though making grandma seem tech-illiterate to sell auto insurance seems a little crass—and it’s a standard theme throughout Esurance’s ads. 

One thing’s for sure: The authentic comedic vine is much better than the advertisement using our harmless love (and a grandma’s misunderstanding) of mindless mobile games to try and make us buy auto insurance.

We’ve reached out to Esurance for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

Screengrab via Esurance/YouTube

Selena Larson

Selena Larson

Selena Larson is a technology reporter based in San Francisco who writes about the intersection of technology and culture. Her work explores new technologies and the way they impact industries, human behavior, and security and privacy. Since leaving the Daily Dot, she's reported for CNN Money and done technical writing for cybersecurity firm Dragos.