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David Blacker’s Blog

Scamming the Chillies

thrustssc.jpg
The record-breaking Thrust SSC, the world’s fastest ‘car’

A scam is defined as “a confidence trick or confidence game, also known as a con, scam, swindle, grift, bunko, flim flam, or scheme, is an attempt to swindle a person or persons (known as the “mark”) which involves gaining his or her confidence,” by Wikipedia, and is basically a dishonest venture. The term has become rather infamous in Colombo ad agencies over the last couple of years, particularly since the launch of the Chillies, Sri Lanka’s leading ad show. In this context, a scam ad isn’t advertising some sort of con scheme, but an ad which is, in itself, a con. The Chillies defines a scam as any advertising clearly developed solely to win at awards shows, with no legitimate client source or though clearly having a legitimate client, has no legitimate client need or rationale. This is expanded on by Chillies Steering Committee member (and CEO of Lowe LDB, Colombo) Mike Holsinger who suggests that the definition can be broken down into four areas of suspicion:

1. Is it for a legitimate brand, product, service, or event?
2. Has it been paid for by a client or sponsor?
3. Does the media scheduling reflect the timeline connected with the brand, product, service, or event?
4. Does the brand, product, service, or event warrant the cost of the ad and its scheduling?

If an agency cannot answer “yes’ to all of the above, the ad may be flagged down as a possible scam and investigated further. According to the Daily Mirror of 21st Feb 2008, 79 entries were flagged for further investigation, and the responsible ad agencies were called on to defend their entries. Of these 79, only 30 passed close scrutiny, the remaining 49 being rejected. According to Mike Holsinger, in the vast majority of the instances, the respective agencies simply didn’t show up to face the Chillies’ sub-committee, thereby acknowledging that the entries were in fact scams. A few were rejected because the sub-committee wasn’t satisfied with the agencies’ clarifications.

So it all seems pretty serious and above board, right? Well, it would be if ad agencies weren’t peopled by such sneaky bastards. Anyone who attended the two Chillies judges’ forums over the last couple of days will tell you that there were a couple of entries in there that definitely smelled scammish. On both evenings, the judges (and particularly American ‘Creative at Large’ John Merrifield) tore apart a campaign for an aluminium brand that had been entered in the print and integrated categories. There were others that obviously found loopholes in the wall.

So why scam? Why spend money and time and talent on something that isn’t genuine advertising, and more often than not has no benefit to the client? Well, awards, of course — glory, medals, fame. In five years (heck, by next year) no one will remember what you won it for, just that you did. On an individual level, awards are to a creative person, promotion and job offers — in other words, cold cash and power. To an agency, it’s PR, and occasionally more clients — so it’s good business. But is it good?

The Chillies stated vision is to raise the bar of creative excellence, striving for diversity, dynamism and world class execution. Fantastic. A little further down, it also states that part of its mission is to propel Sri Lanka’s advertising and marketing communications industry to world class standards. In other words, to help us win an international award at a place like Adfest or Cannes. Outstanding. However, the vision and the mission are not necessarily compatible; especially when having to deal with the scam issue. Now, promoting scam ads and fastracking them through award shows is a sure fire way of getting a Sri Lankan ad awarded internationally, where juries are not that strict about weeding out scams. But will this do much to “raise the bar”, as the Chillies envision? The danger is — and having been a judge at the 2007 Chillies, I’ve seen this first-hand — that our scams are getting better and better, while are genuine bread & butter advertising is getting shittier and shittier. Creative people will be tempted to put all of their efforts into dreaming up art exhibits with beautiful typography, crisp layouts, and miniscule logos, while pig-ugly ads for toothpaste and milk powder sprawl across our newspapers. At the 2007 Chillies, only three Golds were awarded, and this year there’ll be only one. Does that indicate that the judges have been more stringent this year, or that our advertising’s deteriorated? One of last year’s Golds was for an ambient entry that seemed a bit suspect, and with this year’s sole Gold also going to an ambient entry from the same ad agency, eyebrows are certainly going to be raised on Saturday night.

Which brings us to the next question. Is award-winning creative work necessarily good advertising? A good parallel can be drawn between advertising and the automobile industry. A car manufacturer that sets out to build a car that will break the land speed record will certainly achieve that goal if he puts his mind to it, but will that achievement help him produce good cars? Certainly, the record-breaking (and award-winning) car won’t be a good (or effective) car, but it could help its creator use those learnings to build consistently good cars. It could, but it isn’t always a given. On the other hand, car manufacturers who set out to build really bloody good cars, often turn out vehicles that are incredibly fast and exciting to drive. An Aston Martin DB9 or a Nissan GTR may not break the land speed record, but its a fantastic piece of work from a manufacturer who consistently builds good cars. The Thrust SSC did break the land speed record, but would you call it a great car; or even a good one?

Really good advertising will win awards; award-winning ads won’t necessarily be good advertising. Unlike building a fast car, creating a scam is easy. So easy, in fact, that many agencies fuck it up. Like the guys that did that aluminium ad, or the Hi Mag TV commercial. Doing something easy teaches you nothing, and that’s why we see the increasing gap between the quality of the scams and the everyday Nissan Sunnies. Sri Lanka will soon have its own version of the Effies, or the effectivity awards, which many people strangely think is completely different from creative awards. It isn’t. The only difference is that you give effectivity awards for work that has done well in the marketplace, while you give creativity awards for work that you hope will do well. It’ll be interesting to see how many Chillies winners get an Effie.

After the Radio & Integrated Judges Forum on Wednesday, I was chatting to a youngish creative from another agency, and he was quite clear about the fact that he saw nothing wrong in a scam. It didn’t really matter to him whether anyone saw his ad or if it did anything for the brand, as long as he got an award for it. Now this guy’s a mid-level creative, who’s in a position to influence younger people coming into the industry, and I think a lot of them are taking the hint — go for the awards and everything else will fall into place. Bollocks. It won’t. You’re just fooling yourself. At the end of the day, you won’t be doing your job, which is to sell brands, and that makes me question what you’re doing in advertising in the first place.

What makes it worse, is that this attitude’s making it harder to sell good creative advertising to everyday clients. As any creative will tell you, brand managers are timid creatures, with fragile egos, and brands that are better protected than Sanga’s testicles when he’s facing Brett Lee. They don’t like risks, they don’t want scary shit. They need to be reassured that creative work (or “crazy stuff” as one brand manager I know eloquently put it), sells and doesn’t just win awards. Many of them currently think that awards are for “fun” brands like Odel and Adidas, not for Singer fridges or Rinso washing powder. I need to show him that it’s just not so.

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February 22, 2008 - Posted by | advertising | , , , ,

92 Comments »

  1. Interesting.

    I suggested to a friend who was involved that perhaps teh best thing would be to create a fantasy or hypothetical category where teh agencies could let their creativity loose.

    Other ads developed for clients can go through the normal awards.

    Comment by Jack Point | February 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. That’s been suggested, and some shows, like the Reggies, have a ‘graveyard’ category for stuff a client shoots down. But the thing is, a genuine award is more valuable than a graveyard one, and agencies will still attempt to scam in the other categories in order to win a ‘real’ award.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
    When *#$%@!$ Merrifield (no disrespect intended to him) tore apart that Alumex work for scam. The whole advertising industry around that room applauded. The first to applaud were the very violators from the other agencies. The victims on that fateful day may have been one agency in particular. But I really doubt that it was the case. It wasn’t the downfall of one agency. It was a slap on the face of the entire industry. This is the hypocrisy of our lovely business. I too applauded, for the simple fact that somebody gave it to us straight. Is this a lesson enough? I think not. We are like petty thieves. No punishment or public humiliation will suppress the pilferer.

    If I sound holier than thou, please note that I am not. But we can all get our acts together. Do a decent job, and earn an honest living. I also want to apologize to some of the agencies in the country who still hold up these values. So when I meant industry I may have generalized, but it wasn’t the intention. I still believe that there are a few good men and women left out there, and talented at that. The future of this industry and its credibility may lie in their hands.

    Its up to each individual to decide between a an award and his or own dignity. See you all on Saturday.

    And David, thank you.

    Comment by ifaz | February 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. oh please, ifaz or whoever the

    Comment by sanju | February 23, 2008 | Reply

  5. What is so creative about scam? I fail to understand the logic of a creative who defends scam. Any donkey who has a decent sense of design can do scam. That’s just art. It takes talent to do award winning ads while sticking to the brief, the brand personality, target audience, and actually selling it to clients.

    How does rewarding scam raise the creative bar? We just lower it further, because no one is making an effort to actually sell the good stuff to a client. A Saatchi or Bates creative can be so much prouder of their efforts than those at Triad, Leo or McCann.

    When agencies used to do a few scam ads inbetween genuine work, it was easier to swallow. But when certain agencies entire awards collection is built around scam, how is it possible to look away? They are ruining the entire industry.

    Comment by Queen | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  6. Nice piece David. But what’s your opinion on Proactive work? Where a brilliant idea precedes the existence of a brief or maybe even a client?

    Shouldn’t we encourage creatives to run with these ideas? In the end, is this more dishonest than a “legit” ad for a “real” client that tells you a soap will make you beautiful or a fridge will make you a good mother.

    As advertisers, we deal in lies and half-truths. Aren’t awards there to gauge who can make their lie the most convincing, the most dazzling or the most original? Not whether the lie was an honest lie or a dishonest lie.

    By all means, we should make sure that all submissions ran and that they ran with the blessing of the respective clients. But to conduct a witchhunt that attempts to gauge the purity of the advertiser’s intention is a bit righteous and more than a bit silly.

    Comment by Shehan | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  7. Shehan, I’m all for proactive work which precedes a brief. Sometimes the CD knows the brand better than the client, so that’s cool. However, I’m not sure how a brilliant idea can precede a client. Do you mean, write (or draw) an ad and then find a brand or client it fits? Hmm… what do you think? I think all ad ideas must come out of the brand. It’s not impossible to come up with an idea that coincidentally fits a brand, but usually it won’t ring true. The only possible exception is a public service ad which you then get a client to sponsor.

    Yes, I think a scam is more dishonest than a legit ad. I don’t think we should be dealing in lies or half-truths, and I can say that as someone who helps sell cigarettes. Yes, we embellish the truth, and package the average to make it look exceptional. That is the essence of advertising and marketing. If you feel that’s unethical, cool, don’t do it. But to say scamming is OK ‘cos it’s just being dishonest in a dishonest world is wrong. That argument is used by many to justify war crimes ‘cos war is horrible anyway.

    I think the Chillies’ definition of scam is acceptably clear without being draconian. It allows enough flexibility for agencies to perhaps argue a case. What bugs me is that there are agencies that are setting aside time and energy to circumvent these criteria.

    Also, I think the Chillies should ensure that there aren’t any repeat entries. At least one entry which annoyingly won two awards this year was first entered last year.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  8. Do you think we will ever be able to compete with international ad agencies with our legit ads????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Comment by J | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  9. “This is a brilliant thing i think if you do it, i’ll hate you or i’ll punch but hat’s off to you”
    John merrifield (what Inspires you session)

    what do you think, he’s thinking. I’ll tell you what?. He’s looking for a brand to do those lights. That is legit? Coz that might come from tokyo.

    You guys are all hypocrits. You guys can come and listen to a pannel, clap hands and laugh at his “fuck you’s” and “fuck off’s”. Why would you do so?. These guys are all big names who made it coz of scam. If you are so anti scam why would you want to learn from a bunch who’s so popular because of their scam.

    Comment by underdog | February 25, 2008 | Reply


  10. “Do you think we will ever be able to compete with international ad agencies with our legit ads?”

    I don’t know, but if we can’t, should we cheat? Should we pump our athletes full of steroids so that they can win an olympic gold? Did we need to cheat to win the cricket world cup? Just like you choose your sport, you should choose your category. If you can’t win at Cannes with TV, why not try radio?

    “He’s looking for a brand to do those lights. That is legit?”

    Of course it is. It’s called inspiration, not scam. Haven’t you ever heard a song you wanted as a soundtrack, or seen a kick-arse photograph you wanted to use in an ad? Those lights are the same. When I first saw the ramping technique in a Bond movie, I wanted to use it in a TVC, and I did — for MD cordials. That doesn’t make it a scam. I felt the same when I saw those Saudi maniacs surfing on the highway. I wanna use them in an ad.

    “These guys are all big names who made it coz of scam.”

    I think that’s a huge generalization. Even if it were true, you learn from everything.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  11. Any creative can create a good ad in a vacuum. If said creative then finds a brand where that ad fits into, and the client buys it, brilliant. That’s proactive work. Still better is when a creative is inspired to do work for a specific brand by something he came across – that almost ensures elevance. But scam is where the brand is tailored to fit the ad, not vice versa.

    Agencies have lost their dignity by scamming for awards, and yet they keep on doing it, in hopes of filling up their awards chest. Perhaps I’m dumb, but I just don’t get it.

    Comment by Queen | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  12. David, if you didn’t have MD as a client and you had a perfect Bond-inspired idea, would you chuck it? Or would you find a cordial client and sell it to them. What is wrong with having done the latter?

    Creatives, like pretty much everyone, are motivated by self interest. We may repeat the manthra about working to “build a client’s business”, but how many creatives have you met who actually care about doing so? Be honest.

    The fact is advertising does not have to be brilliant. 95% of it is bad-to-mediocre and the businesses who paid for them are doing fine, thank you very much.

    But awards have nothing to do with this reality. They are about aesthetics and freshness of thought. About creatives competing to push the envelope. This may coincide with business objectives, but does not necesarily have to.

    Look around your agencies. Creatives who are focussed on winning awards are the ones who do better brand work and have more ideas. Those who do not care about D&AD are less likely to innovate on regular briefs.

    Doings ads specifically to win awards is not evil. It forces us to push ourselves, to think about our craft and to become better communicators. Without awards, we would do mediocre drivel. That’s what’s easier to sell.

    What we do for our egos and to impress our peers and future employees ends up making us better writers, art directors and conceptualisers. This filters through to our everyday work and makes us more useful to clients.

    Which helps us raise our standards and forces everyone competing with us to raise theirs. And this is what will raise the bar for advertising in this country. Wasn’t that the objective in the first place?

    Comment by Shehan | February 25, 2008 | Reply

  13. “David, if you didn’t have MD as a client and you had a perfect Bond-inspired idea, would you chuck it? Or would you find a cordial client and sell it to them. What is wrong with having done the latter?”

    First of all, it wasn’t a Bond-inspired idea. It was a film technique. But even if it was an idea, and I’d written a film based on it, and then found a client for it, it would be legit. Proactive work is. Thing is, finding a brand/client to fit an ad doesn’t produce as authentic a result as finding an idea to fit a brand/client. By ‘authentic’ I don’t mean legitimacy, but consumer-perceived sincerity — it won’t ring as true.

    “Creatives, like pretty much everyone, are motivated by self interest.”

    Sure we are. But should we therefore cheat to fuel that self-interest? I think not.

    “But awards have nothing to do with this reality. They are about aesthetics and freshness of thought. About creatives competing to push the envelope. “

    As I said before, building a record-breaking car does all of the above, but it won’t necessarily make a good car. For me, scam is easy, it doesn’t challenge me, nor does it exercise my creativity. What envelope are you pushing when there is no envelope?

    “Look around your agencies. Creatives who are focussed on winning awards are the ones who do better brand work and have more ideas. Those who do not care about D&AD are less likely to innovate on regular briefs.”

    You’re taking the two extreme ends of the spectrum, and neither end really is desirable. One must be focused on awards too, but the mistake is to be focused only on one thing to the exclusion of all others.

    “Doings ads specifically to win awards is not evil. It forces us to push ourselves, to think about our craft and to become better communicators. Without awards, we would do mediocre drivel. That’s what’s easier to sell.”

    Quite the opposite. If you are an unmotivated person, perhaps you need an award system to stay motivated, but creatives who are plugged into the pulse of the consumers are far better communicators than those who are focused on the judges. We’ll constantly strive too create work no one has seen before rather than merely something a judge hasn’t seen before. Last year the judges were wowed by stuff that was Sri Lankan in style and awarded it. Did that make the use of a temple mural creative? This time they were wowed by our spoofing of the political arena, because in Malaysia and Singapore that’s unheard of. Did that make those Pusswedilla posters great creatives? Yes, drivel is easy to sell to a client, and art is easy to sell to a judge. Good advertising will be bought by both. That Leo Burnett Coffee Cup was a great idea that did its job, and didn’t just win an award.

    “What we do for our egos and to impress our peers and future employees ends up making us better writers, art directors and conceptualisers. This filters through to our everyday work and makes us more useful to clients.”

    Really? Then why is it that at each consecutive Chillies more and more work is being knocked out in the first round and less and less categories are being awarded? The quality of the mean average is dropping, and the reason is because our scams are getting better while our advertising’s getting worse.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  14. “I’ve seen this first-hand — that our scams are getting better and better, while are genuine bread & butter advertising is getting shittier and shittier.”

    Davy
    The above problem is quite simple and illustrated well post-awards as I write this.

    The winning creative will either get head-hunted by other agencies or hold theirs for ransom.

    Legit clients will place no importance to the Chillies. It won’t even be our own PR show, it will just be a tamasha and people like me to come down enjoy the company of friends.

    I noticed quite a lot of the clients were missing from the Chillies show. This is important as though this is a agency event, I think as you already say its also about gaining their respect and builiding our business.

    Recently many young creative have complained about client attitudes. I feel this is sad as I do believe we run businesses. And as far as the client is concerned his brand is his job. The brand fails, and he’s out.

    As for raising the bar of creativity, I do/STRONGLY believe that we have some of the best creative in the world. If not better. I can afford to say this as I have worked with the best of you from 1993.

    So just a thought, what can the Chillies and the committe do to raise the standards of our advertising with regard to our clients also recognising that advertising is imperative in their marketing mix.

    Advertising that works.

    And can win you awards.

    And for the benefit of all account management who read this, its the creative that win awards.

    Not us. WE RUN A BUSINESS.

    d

    Comment by dhammikad | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  15. And BTW, as always, nice one.

    Comment by dhammikad | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  16. From Shehan – Without awards, we would do mediocre drivel.

    But we have awards and we still do mediocre drivel. Awards justify doing poor advertising for the majority of the time.

    If you want improve the overall standard of your output it would be easier to just stop doing shit ads. A creative sits down and chooses to do poor advertising. You can always rationalise it away; no time, no budget, servicing couldn’t sell it, etc. But it ultimately comes down to you. And how you want to spend your day.

    It’s a fallacy that good work is hard to sell. Why not dig out the old communications skills and make the client want to buy it. And if they don’t, there’s no point being precious. Give them another which is as good or better. The clock is ticking and they’ll blink before you do.

    Nice one anyway, David.

    And ifaz if you are who I think you are – Chill out mate. Have a smoke. It’ll do you good :)

    Comment by Nils | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  17. Dhammikad – If, as you say ‘we have some of the best creative in the world. If not better’. how come we don’t win any international awards? Not to mention that most agencies have to resort to scam to win at the local awards.

    Comment by MJ | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  18. “The only possible exception is a public service ad which you then get a client to sponsor” David

    Dear David,
    First of all, in all honesty i do infact have the highest regard for your work and your skills as a writer. Having said that, i would post one wall and leave it at that, since i belive this has started a journey where all hell stinks, and i would beg you not to drag your reputation there.

    What’s more sad than the arguments listed herein, is the hypocrisy that holds them together, and sadder still is that the brilliant self-righteous creative geniuses we have turned out to be, have any one of us even come close to doing a piece of work that is worthy of an international awards after decades in the business.

    To justify an argument of virtue for public service advertising that does not have to meet any of the criteria set forth by the SCAM buster guidelines for regular advertising, now that is poor to say the least. Because if I am not mistaken the DM for the most awarded CSR campaign for the year was a amateur in-house job that cleary showed the mistaken glue marks, and was called the same by the *#$%@!$ Merrifield (no disrespect intended to him).

    Why should then one community service project (or any) be excused from all that is scam in other instances. Or why another community service initiative that did win the only gold be termed “One of last year’s Golds was for an ambient entry that seemed a bit suspect, and with this year’s sole Gold also going to an ambient entry from the same ad agency, eyebrows are certainly going to be raised on Saturday night” -David ? Is it because one campaign won rediculously for the agency you are employed at, and the other denied you the pleasure of standing taller in the rankings ? I do sincerely apologise for having to ask that questin.

    I’ve seen the definition of scam in its many forms on this page, but where does the definition of hypocrisy come on your blog ?

    Comment by Starker | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  19. Dilith, you fucked up cunt, at least have the balls to come on and say what you have to like a man without using boru names like Starker. What’s that mean? Stark naked? That’s what your fucked up agency is. You manage to scrape together 3 awards and all 3 are scams. Number 1 agency??? Triad is a disgrace. Go and hide behind your fucking flag, becoz even your fake patriotism is nothing but a scam.

    Comment by John Merrifield | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  20. Dear Starker, I’m flattered by your regard for my writing skills, as would be any art director. As for my reputation, I’m not sure what your point is, so perhaps you can expand on that.

    “have any one of us even come close to doing a piece of work that is worthy of an international awards after decades in the business.”

    Seemingly not, but again I fail to see your point. Is it that we should cheat because we can’t win by the rules?

    “To justify an argument of virtue for public service advertising that does not have to meet any of the criteria set forth by the SCAM buster guidelines for regular advertising, now that is poor to say the least.”

    I don’t think it’s upto me to justify public service advertising, nor to defend the Chillies’ scam criteria. The fact is that public service ads are a popular route for scam, and since by their nature bypass at least one of the scam guidelines, the judges’ bar for these ads were apparently set higher. Arguably fair enough. But it doesn’t mean all public service ads are therefore scams.

    “Because if I am not mistaken the DM for the most awarded CSR campaign for the year was a amateur in-house job that cleary showed the mistaken glue marks”

    There’s no defending bad work, which is why I won’t bother. It was a bad DM, and it wasn’t awarded. So what are you complaining about? On the other hand, you seem to suggest that since I was possibly involved in that project, I have no right to speak out. You’ll be therefore happy to know that I wasn’t part of that campaign.

    “Why should then one community service project (or any) be excused from all that is scam in other instances”

    No one’s excusing anything, Starker. If you feel the Blind Touch campaign was a scam, so be it. It’s a free world. When I initially wrote this post (and in fact until yesterday), I was under the mistaken impression that your Walls project was for a paint company, and I therefore felt it was deserving of that Gold (and I never said otherwise), since it at least would then have some connection with the product if not the brand. I have now been corrected by the Missing Sandwich. So I must, I’m afraid, change my opinion. Previously, I thought OK fine, it deserves a Gold, but so does Leo’s Coffee Cup, which did a superb job of connecting the Harry Potter brand with Odel. The thing is, if the Walls were not for a paint brand, I really don’t see why it should win a Gold. An agency in India did the same thing to stop people pissing on walls — they painted murals of Hindu gods on the walls.

    “Is it because one campaign won rediculously for the agency you are employed at, and the other denied you the pleasure of standing taller in the rankings ?”

    Oh dear. The fact that this post was written a couple of days before awards night seems to have escaped you, Starker. My agency’s standing in the rankings couldn’t have been predicted at the time. Yes, if Triad hadn’t won that Gold, my agency would have been moved up from fourth to third, but Triad would’ve been moved down to fifth or sixth. I think its clear who has an Alumex axe to grind here. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a convincing win for Triad — just three awards, compared to the massive haul of the second-place agency — and all three for suspect entries.

    “I do sincerely apologise for having to ask that questin”

    Forgive me if I doubt the sincerity of that apology.

    “but where does the definition of hypocrisy come on your blog ?”

    I would define it as an anonymous comment by an interested party passing him/herself off as an objective bystander.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  21. What am I getting myself into?

    Comment by Ravana | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  22. Starker – Isn’t it ironic that you talk about hypocrisy whilst hiding behind your little pseudonym? Try using your real name. People might take you more seriously then.

    Comment by Tanya J. | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  23. Easy now people… The point of a blog is the right to remain anonymous. Can we please stick to addressing the arguments here?

    Starker raises a valid point. If the villagers are determined to light their torches and sharpen their pitchforks public service campaigns, should not be immune, regardless of where they come from. In the case of the blind campaign, I believe that would be Ogilvy India.

    Comment by Shehan | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  24. All of you who are canonizing real work don’t seem to have enough of it.
    Do some scam instead of living in a blog.

    Comment by ET | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  25. Shehan,

    It’s hard not to sense a certain cynicism in your outlook.

    “As advertisers, we deal in lies and half-truths.”

    So you reckon that advertising is, almost by definition, a rotten business.

    “We may repeat the manthra about working to “build a client’s business”, but how many creatives have you met who actually care about doing so?”

    You feel that creative people don’t give a toss for their trade except to boost their personal glory.

    “The fact is advertising does not have to be brilliant. 95% of it is bad-to-mediocre and the businesses who paid for them are doing fine, thank you very much.”

    You think that a good ad doesn’t actually make much of a difference in the real world.

    “Doings ads specifically to win awards is not evil.”

    You think that going after awards is pretty much synonymous with doing scam.

    Keeping it real I guess. Well. Maybe you’re right.

    Or.

    Maybe, just maybe… you’ve been at that agency for a bit too long? :)

    Comment by rajivmw | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  26. getting personal aren’t we rajiv!

    Comment by ET | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  27. Touche Rajiv. :)
    I cannot disagree with any of your inferences, especially the last one.

    But, at the risk of sounding personal, may I ask you this? Are you doing better “real” work now, at an agency that doesn’t care about awards, or 5 years ago, when you were at an agency that thrived on them?

    Again, be honest.

    Comment by Shehan | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  28. Nice logic David. Btw I feel proactive work needn’t be considered scam if it actually was done with the intent of results. E.g-: A charity concert is happening. A radio spot is created. The spot is produced AFTER the concert is over. IS it scam? Wait. The spot is run once. Is it scam? yes. The spot is run 5 times, and proceeds start filling in. Is it scam? Yanyways. My 2 cents. By the way, NILS, you don’t start doing good ads by stopping doing shit ads. I’d like to know which agency you work in you must be doing lots of killer work that sells itself the moment it’s produced.

    Comment by Ashan | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  29. David
    Nice one mate…totally with you :)
    By promoting and giving recognition to scam work that’s developed with the sole goal of winning awards and not serving a legit brand will only make the industry go down further…

    Maybe the fellas who like scam work should have their own show eh :) Sri Lankan Scam awards 2009 or summin like that :)
    All the PS3 ads, durex ads etc etc can go there…

    Scamming is the easy way out for creatives and agencies to win awards for non-existing briefs and marketing challenges… Ad agencies exist to serve brands and make them flourish…doing great work that delivers the results and awards are the ones that should be awarded and applauded… Nobody said it was easy :) And maybe that’s why winning for legit work is more rewarding cos it’s much more hard earned…

    And for those who think creative ads don’t sell the product or work for the brand… The guinness evolution spot won cannes grand prix and they achieved a huge growth in sales right after it… The CD responsible for the ad made a speech at adfest sometime back with actual figures etc…
    And it was a proactive commercial :)

    And shame on the creative people who are working only for themselves and not for the benefit of the brands they are suppose to work for…
    you guys are the reason that clients don’t trust creative people to do bold work that involves taking some chances…

    Comment by Ranil | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  30. Shehan,

    That’s a good question. And let me answer you perfectly honestly.

    In my opinion at least, the work that I’m doing currently is as good (or bad) as I’ve done anywhere. The non-pursuit of awards has not made one iota of difference to the quality of my creative, for better or worse.

    Lots of circumstances changed dramatically when I moved out of my last big agency job, and the awards thing is about the least significant of these. Even if you’re implying that the quality of my output has dropped of late, it is more likely due to a multitude of other factors. Global warming is a more probable cause.

    This not to say that I don’t like awards. I like them as much as the next guy. In fact, it is wrong to say that my agency doesn’t care about awards. Our partners vote on participating in the Chillies every year. It’s just that, to borrow a phrase from Dick Cheney, we’ve had other priorities. Like invoicing for example.

    But I guess where we differ fundamentally is on the need to scam to win awards. I don’t think we have to, not even to win internationally. I think one of the best pieces at the Chillies this year was your b4ur27 radio. All the judges loved it and felt that, with a little tightening, it could be a real contender at Adfest. And, to underline my point, there was not a whiff of scam about it.

    Comment by rajivmw | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  31. btw david… this seems to be even hotter than the usual flare ups at defencenet eh? :)

    Comment by Ranil | February 27, 2008 | Reply

  32. First of all, let me try and uncross some wires here. Several commentators here seem to be under the mistaken impression that I think proactive or public service ads are either scam, or exempt from scam guidelines. I said neither of those things. What I said was that public service ads (and some proactive work) don’t always (by their nature) abide by the Chillies scam guidelines. So the fact that the committee gives some benefit of the doubt as well as an opportunity for the relevant agency to make its case sorts that prob out.

    Shehan, the Blind Touch ads were done here in Colombo, with an Indian AD and a Sri Lankan CW.

    Ashan, I think an ad done after the event is scam, regardless of the result, ‘cos the intent is to scam.

    Ranil, the thing is a Scam Awards won’t work, ‘cos one can’t cheat there. Scammers don’t like to compete against other scammers, ‘cos what’s the point in that? They might lose. Plus, they know that passing off scam as genuine is more valuable, so they’ll still enter scam into regular shows. I think the Chillies should end the awards night by giving a special Scam Gold to the most scammy agency.

    Bottom line, is as a Creative person, don’t we have any self-respect? I was at a little party last night, where there were a bunch of people, mostly Creatives, from several agencies, and I was chatting to a young guy from Bates who’d spearheaded the Hutch campaign, so I told him I thought it was a great job, and he was justifiably proud of his achievement, and could stand tall amongst a lot of more experienced (and awarded) people in that room. I doubt anyone from Triad could’ve walked in and said, “Hey, we did great at the Chillies, didn’t we?” He would’ve been laughed out of the room. Scam is easy. Anyone can do it, and sadly they do.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  33. “Ranil, the thing is a Scam Awards won’t work,”

    exactly my point mate :)
    guess the sarcasm didn’t come out as i intended it to be…
    cheers
    Ranil

    Comment by Ranil | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  34. Hello Ashan,
    To clarify – You improve the AVERAGE standard of your work if you stop doing shit ads.
    I work at Heensare. We generally present, then pick a production house and then produce it (There are a few other steps, but I’ll keep it simple for you). Where do you work?

    David, I like and agree your last two sentences (especially).

    Comment by Nils | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  35. Nils
    art based right… I think I’ve shared a few pints with you and Suresh M. at AdFest few years ago :)

    And for shit ads… imho… it’s difficult if not impossible to avoid those if you’re “fully” working on a brand cos there are instances no matter how good you do… the requirement or conditions at the time will make it a shit ad… we do our best to make it less shittier but nevertheless a bad ad is bad ad…
    We like to choose our battles when possible and try to push good work when if that’s doable…
    But i don’t think you can STOP doing shit ads :)
    shit ads will be there forever :lol:
    Hopefully the frequency will be less and they will be countered with great ads
    just my 2 cents

    Comment by Ranil | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  36. Hey nilantha. how how. Btw i didn’t ask how you do it, i just asked where you do work. Btw i am happy for you if selling great work is that simple. But then it could be because you guys pick and choose the campaigns you work on (oh shucks, you right, why don’t we do that? It’s our problem sorry) Oh hang on! maybe it could be because in our agencies we are not all directors?

    No one sits at a table and says “hey! i am going to do a really shit ad today!” But all this aside, don’t get me wrong, award non centric creatvitity done for the love of human kind communicating a brand is what you work for, as is what i work for, no disagreement there, i applaud your efforts, don’t spit on mine.

    David, i never said the motive for the idea in my example was an award (i was talking about re-using an idea). But in a culture, where you are rewarded for awards can you expect people not to be motivated by awards?

    Nils, btw I am in Leo.

    Comment by Ashan | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  37. Ashan, what exactly is the motive for creating advertising for an event that is already over? What are you advertising?

    Sure, if your agency rewards you for awards, then you’ll be motivated to go for awards. A large part of the problem is the agencies which foster an award-centric work ethic. I’d rather work for an agency that rewards good advertising rather than award tallies.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  38. “Also, I think the Chillies should ensure that there aren’t any repeat entries. At least one entry which annoyingly won two awards this year was first entered last year”

    Hey David
    It was appalling to hear that some one has submitted an entry that was submitted last year, isn’t this a serious matter. And to hear that it has won metal is outrageous which entry are you referring to?

    Comment by zeze | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  39. Ranil – ‘… shared a few pints…’ that would be me :)

    It’s impossible to do fantastic ads every time out. You have a banner to do? Make it a good banner. If you’re an art director, moan at the writer till their line balances better and is easier to read. Then it would be a better banner than if you hadn’t bothered.

    It’s also risky to pick when to try, and when not to. I’m a bad judge of briefs. I never know where they’ll lead. All I can do is stay sharp on what’s infront of me.

    You choose to do shit ads. Or you can choose to do ‘less shit’ ads. Which is at least a step in the right direction.

    Ashan,
    Selling great work is simple. It’s doing it that’s tricky.
    And well spotted, I do have some say on the clients we work with and, therefore, the brands we work on. But not the [client] briefs. I doubt there’s much difference between ours and the ones you work on.

    I go to work for the fun of communicating. This mostly involves talking bollocks with my colleagues. Some ads come out of it.

    I had no idea I had spat on your efforts.
    The whole ‘scam’ thing is a matter of principle. If you want to champion these ‘pretend’ ads, that’s up to you. You can’t fool yourself, what does it matter whether you can fool some judges?

    Comment by Nils | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  40. Rajiv, appreciate your candor!
    David, apologies for the Ogilvy India comment, I was obviously misinformed by someone from your agency.

    I’m with you guys insofar as I do not advocate Proactive work at the exclusion of Real work. I don’t think any creative thinks that way. But I do believe that one can fuel the other. And this should not be quashed.

    For instance, the b4ur27 spots may not have turned out as they did, had the writer not spent many previous Octobers, burning the midnight oil, rewriting and rewriting proactive spots with awards in mind.

    We need to define the difference between Proactive and Scam. Between Cheating and Gamesmanship. Running an ad once for a client who is agreeable and willing to part with budget is well within the rules. An agency funding a bogus idea for a fictional client is not. Sadly for this year’s Chillies, many of the former were disqualified, while a few of the latter ended up being awarded metal.

    Comment by Shehan | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  41. David ,

    “A large part of the problem is the agencies which foster an award-centric work ethic. I’d rather work for an agency that rewards good advertising rather than award tallies.”

    If there was only one agency network on the planet with an award-centric work ethic it would be O&M. Isn’t there a contradiction working for an agency that has had the inventors of scam as their creative leaders? Neil French spawned the idea. Have you ever seen a bottle of Kaminomoto? In award books, yes. He was your worldwide creative head. The creative head of O&M Asia is riding high on an award-winning campaign for East Timor tourism. Done out of Singapore! Remember the campaign for The Church of God? I guess you will tell me that O&M Sri Lanka is different from O&M International.

    Comment by ET | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  42. ET, you’re mistaking O&M Singapore for O&M International. Singapore agencies are known to be hubs of scam, be they O&M or McCann. I’m sure if you delve into the archives of McCann you’ll find that a lot of its scam comes out of Sing.
    At the judges forums you would’ve heard the scorn with which Singapore agencies were spoken of — do you want that to be how you’re known?

    In the end, saying “ooh they did it first” is absurd. My post wasn’t really on the ethics of scamming, but on the usefulness of it. I find scamming to be useless as a learning tool as well as useless to the brands. Do you want an award for being useless?

    I do 60% of my work on a brand that has no ATL and the BTL is intentionally kept out of the limelight. You might think that boring, but it’s the most exciting work I’ve done in 16 years of handling some really fun brands. This year we’ll do stuff for that brand that has never been done anywhere in the world, stuff that will forever change the way that product is communicated in this country. Will I get a Chillie for it? No. Will anyone know who did it? Very few. Will anyone even know what we did? Probably not. But I will; and I won’t need a Chillie or an Effy to tell me what a good job I’ve done.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  43. For those of you who are curious, here’s where you can see a bottle of Kaminomoto:

    http://www.kaminomoto.co.jp/eng/hair/hpro.html

    Highly recommended for certain agency heads…

    Comment by rajivmw | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  44. “Scam is easy. Anyone can do it…”

    Sorry dudes. This is an utterly nonsensical statement. If you’re saying that it’s easy to create ads like Clima bike locks, East Timor tourism or Wrangler jeans (all big Adfest winners), then perhaps you don’t know all that much about craft.

    But I forgot. Your biggest challenge to yourselves is to stand out in your local newspaper. Try standing out in a room full of hundreds, maybe thousands, of beautifully executed scams from all over the world. No high frequency schedules, no full page media buys. Just your ad against the rest, trying to impress judges who have literally seen it all.

    A lot harder than being the best ad in this Sunday’s Observer.

    Let me throw down a challenge. Take a week. Hell, take two. Do me one ad. Just one. That will sweep the boards at Adfest and Cannes. I’m sure you geniuses wouldn’t even break a sweat.

    Forget that. Take a month. And amongst yourselves, come up with one piece. That’s right, just one. That will, forget metal, just make the list of finalists. White space, small logo right? Should be a piece of cake.

    Any takers? Didn’t think so.

    Comment by Shehan | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  45. “If you’re saying that it’s easy to create ads like Clima bike locks, East Timor tourism or Wrangler jeans (all big Adfest winners)”

    It’s a damn sight easier than creating an Adfest-winning ad for Nestomalt or Singer Mega or Dialog. Why don’t you try doing one of those, getting it approved and in the papers. It’s called advertising btw.

    “then perhaps you don’t know all that much about craft”

    If you say so :) As I told you earlier, to improve your craft, you must be constantly challenged. Where’s the challenge in scam? Unless you consider the Chillies scam committee a challenge — and from what I heard, GME was pretty challenged this year.

    “Your biggest challenge to yourselves is to stand out in your local newspaper.”

    No it’s not. If that’s your view of local advertising, I’m not surprised you’re defending scam, Shehan. Your job must be mind-numbingly boring. For me, it’s not about looking good in the Observer, and I think I made that clear in my previous comment.

    “Try standing out in a room full of hundreds, maybe thousands, of beautifully executed scams from all over the world. No high frequency schedules, no full page media buys. Just your ad against the rest, trying to impress judges who have literally seen it all.”

    But why? That para, in a nutshell, articulates everything that’s wrong with your attitude to advertising. We are not here to impress judges. If you do some brilliant work that also impresses a bunch of judges, great, good for you. But that’s not why we’re here.

    “Let me throw down a challenge. Take a week. Hell, take two. Do me one ad. Just one. That will sweep the boards at Adfest and Cannes”

    Again, why? Even if I had the time to waste on scam, what would it prove — that scam wins at Adfest? We already know that. Or is it that my scam’s better than yours? Who cares who’s better at cheating. So let me ask you a question, Shehan. With all the scamming, all the proactive work, all the public service ads, have you done anything worthy of a finalist at Adfest? If you haven’t, what’s the purpose of scamming? You’re failing to achieve even your one stated goal.

    “Forget that. Take a month. And amongst yourselves, come up with one piece. That’s right, just one. That will, forget metal, just make the list of finalists.”

    I’m doing that right now. The difference is it’s not a scam.

    “White space, small logo right? Should be a piece of cake.”

    I think I can see why your scams aren’t getting to Adfest :) Perhaps you need a better art director.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  46. “Scam is easy. Anyone can do it.”

    Of course scam is easy. Pupose of advertising – To be entered in awards show. That task is easy to fulfil. There’s nothing much riding on it. It’s a no pressure fake. That doesn’t mean that a scam will win at Cannes. You’re rightly cynical about the seeming prevalence of scams at award shows. Your argument seems to be: Everyone else is doing it, why don’t we? I can’t agree with that. It’s still cheating and I’ve got better things to do than play ‘let’s pretend’

    I’ll take your challenge on Adfest/Cannes but I’l do it with real work. I can’t promise I’ill manage to do it in a week, a month, or a year if at all. But I’ll try.

    Comment by Nils | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  47. rajiv,

    what would you recommend to agency heads without brains?

    Comment by ET | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  48. Nils and Rajiv,

    Please don’t be so hypocritical and go for adfest. To celebrate asia’s biggest scam show. Save that money and do some real work. Or maybe you could donate it to the blind.

    Comment by ET | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  49. Miaow!

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  50. Oh give over ET, there’s loads more to learn at Adfest than ‘how to scam’. If that’s all you got out of it, what a missed opportunity.

    Comment by Nils | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  51. User with IP 124.43.250.9, please don’t post under multiple names unless you are schizophrenic. Both your IP and email address are visible, so you’re not fooling anyone.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  52. David,

    “you’re mistaking O&M Singapore for O&M International. Singapore agencies are known to be hubs of scam, be they O&M or McCann. I’m sure if you delve into the archives of McCann you’ll find that a lot of its scam comes out of Sing.”

    Maybe in your blinkered view, the world wide creative head (Neil French) and the head of creative for all of Asia pacific (Tham K Meng) only represent Singapore.

    McCann doing scam doesn’t bother me, with your holier-than-thou attitude you must be a rare species at O&M.

    Comment by ET | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  53. ““Also, I think the Chillies should ensure that there aren’t any repeat entries. At least one entry which annoyingly won two awards this year was first entered last year””

    there was a similar story going about the car insurance spots we did… It’s total BS :lol:

    we were developing and tuning our work when last years chillies was happening and we showed the work at Juju Basu’s Chillies workshop titled “show and tell”

    Some creatives who were present at that workshop was circulating stories saying that we entered those spots last year also which is utter BS…
    I would love to see if any of those fellows come up with some solid proof rather than spread BS stories :)

    Comment by Ranil | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  54. ET,

    Neil French was removed as World wide Creative Head for making sexist remarks at a Canadian(?) award ceremony.

    You have a lot to say about where people work. Don’t you work at the agency that was cheering ‘We want/like Scam’ at the Chillies? (Wasn’t there so I don’t know the exact words)

    Comment by Nils | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  55. The whole world knows what happened to Neil French. Whats your point in the context of this argument??
    I was one of the people cheering we love scam.Sorry to horrify you.

    Comment by ET | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  56. “You choose to do shit ads.”

    Nils
    Don’t agree there mate :)
    I guess you guys are a lil better off than the rest of us with the way you work with your brands and select your assignments… please correct me if i’m wrong
    Sometimes the rest of us have no choice but to heed for client demands and go against out better judgment cos retaining business is very hard these days and the moment you stamp your foot down and make a stand… another agency will get the job and get it done cos end of the day it’s a business and money matters :)
    But in all honesty we try our best to make even shittiest ad a little less shittier :)
    btw…i’m art based and you would’ve been a lil too high when we met at pattaya :)
    cheers
    ranil

    Comment by Ranil | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  57. ET, my comment on Singaporian scam was in response to your comment:

    “Have you ever seen a bottle of Kaminomoto? In award books, yes. He was your worldwide creative head. The creative head of O&M Asia is riding high on an award-winning campaign for East Timor tourism. Done out of Singapore! “

    Both the East Timor and Kaminomoto campaigns were done out of Singapore. So was the Tourism Vietnam campaign by Farokh Madhon (now at McCann I think). I can’t remember the Church of God stuff. French’s Kaminomoto work was done to prove a point — that a brand could be sustained by advertising, even if it didn’t exist. It wasn’t done for awards.

    You and Shehan seem eager to get very personal over this issue. If you want to call my attitude holier-than-thou, go for it. I’ve been called worse. However, the article is my view, and I don’t represent anyone, so get over it.

    As Rajiv and/or Nils already said, pointing fingers at others doesn’t absolve you. I don’t do scam, and I won’t do scam. Telling me Neil French did it doesn’t explain why you do it.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  58. David,
    My post was in reply to your quote below…

    “A large part of the problem is the agencies which foster an award-centric work ethic. I’d rather work for an agency that rewards good advertising rather than award tallies”

    Nothing personal, merely pointing out a contradiction. :)

    Comment by ET | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  59. Thanks Ranil,
    I used to be an art director.

    Do you know your company’s Vat registration number? I know mine. And the date that VAT has to be paid. And to whom. Which I didn’t when I used to work in the ‘Creative Dept’. I know more about the ‘business’ now than I ever did.

    I used the work at Phoenix O&M. I had the privilege of hearing Rajan Kapoor (The the Regional Head) and Piyush Pandey tell me that ‘good work is good for business ‘. I believe them. If youl look at it from ‘blatant self-intrest’ – The more successful you are for your client, the more freedom they’ll give you. That freedom has to be gained, though. But you get to do better ads.

    For the Scammers – From a personal, financial standpoint; if your salary increases when you win awards, it’ll increase more if you win those awards for a client who actually puts money into your agency. You’ll be rewarded, I’m sure. :)

    Comment by Nils | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  60. ET,

    He was fired ages ago. What relevance does it have to today?

    Oh, so it was we LOVE scam. Thanks. Far from being horrified, I pity you. If you don’t buy my financial argument – You’re standing up for the right to cheat?

    Comment by Nils | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  61. Nils, you sound like an accountant. :)

    But i’ve had enough. Good Bye Bloggers. No hard feelings. Ta taa.

    Comment by ET | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  62. Even accountants want to see better advertising. :)

    Comment by Nils | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  63. ““A large part of the problem is the agencies which foster an award-centric work ethic. I’d rather work for an agency that rewards good advertising rather than award tallies”

    Nothing personal, merely pointing out a contradiction.”

    What contradiction? I say the above, and you point out that they scam in Singapore. Where’s the relevance?

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  64. “I had the privilege of hearing Rajan Kapoor (The the Regional Head) and Piyush Pandey tell me that ‘good work is good for business.”

    Nils,

    If Piyush Pandey had the misfortune of being born in Sri Lanka, none of his groundbreaking Fevicol work or that famous ad with the balloon and the pin, would have got past our scam committee.

    He made his name and put India on the map with work that by your definition would’ve been considered illegitimate. And then he used his fame and his learnings to build business for his agency and to make speeches like the above.

    Are you guys naive or just ignorant?

    Comment by Shehan | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  65. “If Piyush Pandey had the misfortune of being born in Sri Lanka, none of his groundbreaking Fevicol work or that famous ad with the balloon and the pin, would have got past our scam committee.”

    The sad thing is that we need a scam committee to keep us honest. Once again, Shehan, I’m embarrassed to ask it, but why exactly are you in advertising?

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  66. The money. The chicks. The dress code. :)

    Comment by Shehan | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  67. Heck, write a book instead. Can’t say much about the money & chicks, but the dress code’s killer.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  68. Hey guys,

    I take it all back. I’ve seen the light. I’m all for scam ads now. In fact I’ve just done one which I’m dispatching to Adfest and Cannes. Check it out here:

    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=28957&l=66502&id=773603695

    Comment by rajivmw | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  69. Dear David,
    This sensationalism over the saintly guardians of brand equity as against those who do pro active work, is comical to say the least. All the polarisation that those who attempt to do more pilifer, cheat and lie is amusing.

    Are you saviors of advertising integrity actually attempting to suggest that you are the only ones who are building brands, that those who are interested in pushing their boundaries for awards don’t bring in money and sell client’s shopping carts ? because if i am not mistaken they too work for top billing agencies that has been in the business for longer than you have known to speak.

    Chances are they have won as many awards for corporate profiles, pack designs and new year promotions, and won as many mettle at POP ICON awards or at Brand awards. Even brought in as many smiles to client’s faces, probably more. Maybe, just maybe they want to differentiate between the role of diferent awards schemes, and ironically the purpose of a local creative award standards vis a vis ‘international competition’. And levelling the playing field. Especially since the definition of scam in your eyes, don’t seem to have fitted the heap of non-existing blatant scam that escaped the virtuous and honest scrutinity of SCAM busters.

    Having said that, i believe a person who is trying harder to improve their craft on a daily basis, sometimes need to excercise that skill to horn it. While a real brief where you can put this learning into good use will come to you not so ofetn, a great idea for another busines will cross your mind at any point. If a client is willing to buy that ad and use it to get milage, who on Satan’s folly are you to question the legitamacy of his business, or the fact that if the piece of communication works its magic that the new client is going to be hooked on you like a long lost friend. It’s an extension of creativity to help build new relationships and new brands, (you would have heard it here or there, it is called ‘new business’ and it is good for billing ).

    Now the usual philanthropy of ironic questions…is it paid for by client? yes it will be. Did the client want it ? hell no, that’s why t is called pro-active, But did he need it ? apparently yes, he just didn’t know ads like that work, will he do it again ? now that he knows he probably will.

    The bottomline is, pro-active work is still work, as is work for existing clients or briefs. They have a job as much as the other work does-to get the client’s brand noticed and popular.

    We will do our regualr jobs, and do it bloody well, whether the saints of advocation admit it or not. Because we have to earn and merit our client’s pay too. The diference is, we don’t have to prove to our clints that our campaigns sell, over a blog. That they will know by looking at the sales figures. The point of this initial argument, which most of you beautiful people have forgotten by now, was to determine whether the local awards scheme is inspiring us to try harder at what we do and raise the bar of creativity to an international standard.

    If your answer is no-scam has got in the way, then let’s re-visit what scam really is. Because your idea of scam, will differ from mine, and then another’s. And no, the criteria laid forth by the committee didn’t help bust the real scam, it just tilted the scales to fit personal manifestos.

    I rest my case and wish you wonderful people best of luck in all your ambitions, here and elsewhere.

    goodnight and goodluck !

    Comment by Starker | February 29, 2008 | Reply

  70. Shehan,
    It’s funny you should mention Fevicol, as they did too.
    Fevicol was a nothing brand, with no budgets, which no one wanted to work on. Piyush Pandey was either an AE or a very junior creative. He asked the Account Director (Ranjan Kapoor) if he could have a try. He eventually built Fevicol into the most famous, popular brand of glue in India. Fevicol was a real client with real briefs.
    The newer work does look a bit scammy, I agree. They’re also not as good.

    Had he come in front of the scam committee I’d imagine he’d have come up with a more sophisticated defence than bleating – Everybody else is doing it, why can’t I?

    The balloon/pin ad was done by Sonal Dabral, not Piyush. He said he had the idea and then found the client. So it wasn’t a real job, really, it was a scam.

    Why do you GME types have to resort to personal flings? So far, I’ve argued that doing scams is cheating. In return I’ve been called a hypocrite, an accountant, ignorant and/or naïve. Come on, enlighten me. Why does GME love Scam? Why you condone cheating (if that’s what you believe). Why do you have to split hairs on what constitutes a scam, can’t you do decent ads on your regular brands/briefs at GME?
    Any takers?

    Oh, and Shehan, the whole cynicism thing – c’est tres chic.

    Comment by Nils | March 1, 2008 | Reply

  71. Starker, you really need to pay attention. I never said that proactive work is scam. Perhaps rereading my post and my subsequent comments will save you some time and save me the bother of correcting you.

    As for the whole craft issue. You can perhaps challenge yourself by creating fantasy campaigns. If so, go for it. Just don’t try to win an award for it at the expense of legit campaigns. I’m glad that the judges were smart enough to raise the bar in certain categories so that some scams that did get through didn’t do as well as they might have — Durex and Alumex come to mind. Oh, and the definition of scam quoted above, isn’t mine, it’s the Chillies’.

    Your point that scammers arguably also do legit work is fair enough, though it’s hardly an excuse for it. I know for a fact though that there are creative people in some agencies that have been hired just for their scam potential, who don’t do much of the bread & butter work.

    In the end, there’s no getting away from scam — people will always cheat. However, I think we should do our best to prevent it, and the first step is to clearly point out that it is in fact wrong.

    Comment by David Blacker | March 1, 2008 | Reply

  72. ‘It’s an extension of creativity to help build new relationships and new brands, (you would have heard it here or there, it is called ‘new business’ and it is good for billing ).’
    Starker – This so-called ‘new business’ is most often limited to that single ad/ campaign which is entered at the chillies. It rarely extends further. Nobody’s saying that agencies shouldn’t go after clients for their business. The argument is that you shouldn’t do work solely for winning awards.
    And no, it isn’t ‘good for billing’. It in fact, brings very little money in. It’s done with the hope of bringing an award in. Period.

    Comment by Tanya J. | March 1, 2008 | Reply

  73. Well done David and Tanya for making some sense of that. I had no idea what Starker blathering on about this tme. I was already confused by the time I got to this line -
    ‘Now the usual philanthropy of ironic questions’ – I don’t understand. Is it a collective term? A pride of Lions, a herd of Zebra, a philanthropy of ironic questions? I know my typing isn’t perfect but what does that even mean?

    Starker, just before you triumphantly ‘rest you case’ any chance of you running this past us again in English?

    Comment by Nils | March 1, 2008 | Reply

  74. Dear David

    I hope it’s ok if I post something not 100% related to the scam spat.

    Merrifield made several points last week one of which seems to have been ignored by a lot of people. He said ‘stop trying to win awards internationally stop focusing on that shit just do some amazing different work for your clients that does the brand well. You’ll probably find that, that particular piece will stand a good chance internationally BUT IF IT DOESN’T WHO GIVES A FUCK’
    (this isn’t a word for word but it was his point)

    Now the chillies really are fantastic (especially the nights leading upto saturday night) but do you not think that the chillies and our industry place far too great a value on winning a global award that they keep saying it. The vision (or the mission I can’t remember which) is about raising the bar of creative excellence. Don’t you think that it’s a bit diluted by the added price tag of winning in the international arena?

    Comment by Dilshara | March 1, 2008 | Reply

  75. Exactly my point at the beginning of my article — the mission and the vision aren’t necessarily compatible.

    I couldn’t agree more with your first para.

    Comment by David Blacker | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  76. Starker I think inadvertently had called ‘Clients’ – ‘Clints’. Quite close to the word ‘Cunts’ methinks.

    Agencies who win awards on scams quite simply are ‘Clints’ or for the best related word ‘Cunts’.

    First, all of us in advertising must admit we are in the business of making money. This is the same anywhere in the world.

    Awards will bring you more organic growth and new business.

    They are important.

    So for next year the awards committee maybe should concentrate from NOW, on ensuring how we can grow to meet client expectations and their respect to create award winning advertising.

    And once you have your clients respect, selling proactive work to them becomes quite easy.

    And maybe we wont need to create scam ads at all.

    But for those of us who are in account management or agency owners who commented on this post, what exactly are you doing to grow the reputation of Sri Lanka’s ad industry in a positive manner?

    Or like I said before, are we all having a great night at the Chillies and polishing our own inflated ego’s?

    And in the process fooling our clients to buy into what we so adeptly cheat at?

    From inception.

    Comment by dhammikad | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  77. Dear anti-scammers,

    On Tuesday I had 3 ideas. 2 were brilliant. 1 was genius. And guess what I did? I chucked them. Aborted them as a teenage whore would. No guilt.

    Then, I had an extended lunch, copychecked a vacancy ad and came home at 5. I wanted to hug you guys. I felt so liberated.

    I spent all week dreaming up an activation that would feed every village in Sri Lanka and would make my client a legend. Client asked for a trade leaflet. And, if possible, a jingle.

    This non-scammy life is pretty mind-numbing. No wonder you gents sound so pissed.

    Comment by Shehan | March 7, 2008 | Reply

  78. Damn, Shehan, if that’s what life is like at GME, I’m not surprised you guys need scam to stay sane. Sad. Guess it’s a different place from when I was there. You’re making the right decision in leaving then, machang. Maybe working for yourself will give you back some pride of achievement that doesn’t need a Chillie to sustain it. I also note you still can’t tell the diff between scam and proactive, so perhaps it’s a lost cause. Good luck anyway.

    Comment by David Blacker | March 7, 2008 | Reply

  79. david
    your car analogy is slightly misguided (as i think your argument is). audi for example make le mans cars (scam) to test out innovative technology that wouldn’t be considered safe under normal road regulations. this technology filters down (admittedly in a diluted form) to road cars (legit work handed down by god) a few years later. without the freedom to experiment that le mans and scam gives us, we would stagnate or at best progress very slowly, doing us nor the industry any good.

    godspeed, i hope you find jerusalem. (isn’t writing in parenthesis fun)

    Comment by Lalith | March 8, 2008 | Reply

  80. “audi for example make le mans cars (scam) to test out innovative technology that wouldn’t be considered safe under normal road regulations. this technology filters down (admittedly in a diluted form) to road cars (legit work handed down by god) a few years later.”

    Lol, well when you see an Audi Le Mans car being sold as a road car, let me know, machang. Track cars are built to win races, and scams are created to win awards, but that’s where the analogy ends :). The reason Audi and other car manufacturers need race cars to develop technology is because of money. Sponsors and wins bring in money that’ll take a dent out of the cost of development. You don’t need wins or sponsors to create scam, which is essentially fantasy advertising. I’m all for creating fantasy ads, and in fact I encourage it in my junior team members (“How would YOU do an ad for Axe?”). However, I draw the line at passing it off as a real ad that can be entered in a show.

    “godspeed, i hope you find jerusalem. “

    Actually, I prefer Beirut.

    I’m aware that this article has made me seem like some sort of crusader against scam, which frankly I’m not. I don’t fully agree with the Chillies’ scam criteria either, particularly the one one payment, but I recognize that this is necessary to stop the sort of large-scale cheating that many agencies rely on to succeed at the Chillies.

    Comment by David Blacker | March 10, 2008 | Reply

  81. Hey Rajiv,
    Just saw your Adfest entry……..HA HA HA
    Definitely a winner!!!

    Comment by thekillromeoproject | March 10, 2008 | Reply

  82. hey david,

    just out of curiosity…

    you wouldn’t happen to have a pic of the god mural wall that was done in india, would you? i’m looking for it.
    if you do… can you post it? or mail it. or at least tell me a place to find it

    thanx

    ramesh

    Comment by ramesh | March 10, 2008 | Reply

  83. Try Flickr. It’s not really a communications campaign or anything. Just something the municipality does to stop people pissing on walls. I heard it was done in South America too, but there they’d paint crosses on the walls. I found this:

    This describes the practice of painting gods on the walls.

    Here’s another:

    Caption says: Those are picture of various Hindu gods, as well as Jesus, placed on the wall, supposedly to discourage people urinating on it.

    Comment by David Blacker | March 10, 2008 | Reply

  84. hey david,

    thanx a lot. how could i have forgotten to check flickr? anyway… thanx.

    good stuff

    ramesh

    Comment by ramesh | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  85. Hello,

    Anybody know where I can view some of the winning Chillies online?

    Cheers!

    Comment by Francisca | March 13, 2008 | Reply

  86. Has sri lanka scored it’s first ever metal at AdFest???

    Comment by Ranil | March 27, 2008 | Reply

  87. Dear David,
    First of all, in all honesty i do infact have the highest regard for your work and your skills as a writer. Having said that, i would post one wall and leave it at that, since i belive this has started a journey where all hell stinks, and i would beg you not to drag your reputation there.

    What’s more sad than the arguments listed herein, is the hypocrisy that holds them together, and sadder still is that the brilliant self-righteous creative geniuses we have turned out to be, have any one of us even come close to doing a piece of work that is worthy of an international awards after decades in the business.

    To justify an argument of virtue for public service advertising that does not have to meet any of the criteria set forth by the SCAM buster guidelines for regular advertising, now that is poor to say the least. Because if I am not mistaken the DM for the most awarded CSR campaign for the year was a amateur in-house job that cleary showed the mistaken glue marks, and was called the same by the *#$%@!$ Merrifield (no disrespect intended to him).

    Why should then one community service project (or any) be excused from all that is scam in other instances. Or why another community service initiative that did win the only gold be termed “One of last year’s Golds was for an ambient entry that seemed a bit suspect, and with this year’s sole Gold also going to an ambient entry from the same ad agency, eyebrows are certainly going to be raised on Saturday night” -David ? Is it because one campaign won rediculously for the agency you are employed at, and the other denied you the pleasure of standing taller in the rankings ? I do sincerely apologise for having to ask that questin.

    I’ve seen the definition of scam in its many forms on this page, but where does the definition of hypocrisy come on your blog ?

    Comment by Starker | February 26, 2008

    Dilith, you fucked up cunt, at least have the balls to come on and say what you have to like a man without using boru names like Starker. What’s that mean? Stark naked? That’s what your fucked up agency is. You manage to scrape together 3 awards and all 3 are scams. Number 1 agency??? Triad is a disgrace. Go and hide behind your fucking flag, becoz even your fake patriotism is nothing but a scam.

    Comment by John Merrifield | February 27, 2008

    Even if this WASN’T posted by dilith (note simple ‘d’) I agree with what John says.

    Any fuckwit who can NOT sell a good idea to a genuine client is just that – a fuckwit. Hypocrisy? Stalker? You of leftist origins? Pour your blacklabel down the drain and drink moonshine – that’s what you DESERVE to drink. But of course…
    Things are different now.

    BTW I’ve got pictures of dilith. On stage at the Chillies. They say a picture says a thousand words. This one doesn’t. I’d estimate they say ten thousand at least!

    Sorry for the delay in getting into this ppl. My bad.

    But something are savored BEST after the boil point…

    Comment by Slowdeath | March 27, 2008 | Reply

  88. OOOOHhhhh I’ve not heard that Marathon callsign in a long time. All we need now is Purple Armour :)

    Comment by David Blacker | March 28, 2008 | Reply

  89. [...] the rather vindictive aftermath of the Chillies, Colombo’s top agencies had awaited Adfest with baited breath, expecting the [...]

    Pingback by Leo Burnett & Triad Win at Adfest « the Blacklight Arrow | March 31, 2008 | Reply

  90. Hey there.. ping for Nils/ Heensare –

    I’m a regional planner @ M&C Saatchi – trying to get in touch w someone at the agency, please can you drop me a line at kajal.vatsa@gmail.com

    Thanks!

    Comment by Kajal | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  91. [...] was hoping for a fairly uncontroversial ad awards this year, following on the heels of 2008’s scam issues; however that doesn’t look likely. Everything seemed very low key at first. There were no [...]

    Pingback by Drop in the Price of Chillies in 2009 « the Blacklight Arrow | May 5, 2009 | Reply

  92. [...] I write about the Chillies, and each year it ends up being about something controversial, be it scam or scoring, and I wonder how long this’ll go on. Brandon Ingram from Triad has already [...]

    Pingback by Court Orders Chillies to Lift Ban on Phoenix Ogilvy « the Blacklight Arrow | May 6, 2010 | Reply


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