A lot of popular advertisements are based on themes or elements that are appropriated from other work, such as movies, TV shows, etc. Sometimes, this appropriation is done really well; other times, it is not.
According to Allison McCartney, writing for Visual.ly:
“Appropriation, or the act of re-using and re-purposing pre-existing imagery, has long been an effective communication tool. Artists have appropriated imagery for decades to comment on pop culture, but advertisers and marketers also use appropriated imagery to make a connection with audiences. However, when not done correctly, ‘appropriation’ can merely become a ripoff of someone else’s work. It’s important to know where to draw the line.”
“Appropriated imagery can be a cultural touchstone when the images are popular enough to be known by a broad swath of the audience. Images become a language when enough people recognize them and understand their meaning. They can be a sort of shorthand that conveys messages, creates tone, sparks memories, and creates connections between ideas. The 2011 Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial, for example, was a fantastic example of appropriation. By using Star Wars imagery and sound to tell a story throughout the commercial, the creators of this ad maximized the benefits of appropriation.”