The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Like Walking Across A Minefield In Clowns Shoes …

I have written a lot about scam in the past.

How it is destroying the credibility of our industry.

How the main culprits are the agencies behind the bland wallpaper we see each day.

How these scam places are devaluing the agencies who make amazing work for real clients.

Recently John Hegarty suggested that agencies found doing scam should be banned from award shows like athletes are banned from competing.

I absolutely love this idea.

I don’t think it will stop it happening, but it will severely reduce it.

But I’d go one step further.

Years ago Andy told me the judges of the awards are complicit in scam happening.

He said that they were so focused on being associated with great work, they didn’t care if it was real work.

I think he has a point which is why rather than just banning the agencies who do it, I’d ban the judges who award it.

Of course, the judges could say they acted in good faith and assumed the people behind the competition had evaluated it’s appropriateness.

And that’s fair, but the award competitions need entries and the horrid reality is that scam has paid the bills for many of them for too long so to expect them to rigorous in their validity might be a bit too much to hope.

But here’s the thing, scam isn’t even hard to spot.

Part of the reason for it is – as I mentioned – because it comes from agencies who are more known for their blandom than their pragmatsism.

The other reason is that in their quest to be provocative, the agencies often overstep the mark because they know judges love this sort of thing.

Have a look at this …

It’s about as perfect an example of scam you can get.

A visually driven idea [because unless the copy is in English, it will stop judges liking it]

A clear point of view.

Embracing topical events to make their point.

On face value, it all makes perfect sense – but apart from the fact that idea is as old as the hills – the use of a Muslim woman highlights the desperate attempt of the agency and creative team to be ‘award worthy’.

Sure, all the pictures reflect people following some sort of ‘ideology’ … but a skinhead walking away from other skinheads in a riot and a soldier walking away from other soldiers on their way to unleash war on some nation is very different to a Muslim woman walking away from a group of other Muslim women who simply appear to be Muslim women.

Talk about making a massive and insulting comment to women of the Muslim faith.

The implication that they are all blindly following an ideology designed to cause destruction to others – as seems the theme given the other executions – is both wrong and frankly irresponsible.

But who cares about that when there’s an award to win.

But then, those who enter the dark world of scam don’t care about anything.

Including thinking if their ‘idea’ actually is consistent or makes sense.

Name them.

Ridicule them.

Ban them.

19 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Well said Rob. Scam is bad but scam of religious judgement is possibly the worst of it all.

Comment by Pete

Not that they care … the award justifies the means, especially when the industry applauds it rather than names and shames.

Comment by Rob

Yes, they should be banned.
I saw something recently where an award show stated the ad had to have run at least 10 times.

However I think the other option is to mandate that all award entries include a media schedule, and the visibility of the ad (as judged against potential client budget) is used as part of the judging process.

Hard for judges to put an ad through if they know it only ran twice.

Comment by Rob (Other one)

1984 only ran once.

Comment by Bazza

Fair point Baz, but you know what Rob means … there’s a big difference between running an ad once in the Super Bowl and running it once in the Nashville Gazette free community paper.

Comment by Rob

Of course the chick is hot and young. That mag is amazing.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Chick? Come on Billy, you’re not as bad as that.

Comment by George

Seems I am.

Comment by Billy


Comment by Bazza

That is the only thing Billy is consistent about.

Comment by DH

You are right Robert, this is classic scam. I see it was done by Y&R. Maybe if they had spent their energies on delivering clear and concise creative work for their paying clients, they would not have been consumed by VML.
The great irony is scam often captures all the elements that leads to great work, but as these ads show, there is always a small fatal flaw that hints why they can’t make work a real client wants to buy.

Comment by George

Scam is like a conspiracy theory. All the bits to make it sound true are there except one. It’s not true.

Comment by Bazza

I like that conspiracy theory analogy. I don’t know if I fully understand it, but I like it. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Just get rid of awards. Problem solved. Nothing lost.

Comment by John

Awards do have a role … but sadly we have fucked that so I’m inclined to agree with you, and you know how much I don’t want to do that, don’t you John.

Comment by Rob

I know it’s an intellectual stretch for you, yes.

Comment by John

It seems WPP decided to ban Y&R for their scam by turning them into WMLY&R.

Comment by DH

Good one.

Comment by Bazza

Late reply. But the VML staff that I was exposed to (I hope not representative of the whole company) were so bad that our agency referred to them as ‘Vague Marketing Language’

Comment by Rob (Other one)

Leave a Reply