Chillies ’08 — Were the Judges Scamming?


Personally, I felt a bit scammed by the judges forums at this year’s Chillies. Not just because the judges’ comments weren’t really indicative of Saturday’s results, but in some cases they were downright misleading. The reason the forums are thought to be useful (and therefore popular with the ticket-buying agencies) is because they give us a peek at the thinking behind the foreign judges’ thinking process when it comes to deciding who gets awarded and who doesn’t. In 2007, some of the entries that were heavily criticized at the forums (eg: the Hit Ads integrated entry) predictably bombed on the awards night. Therefore it was pretty easy to deduce just why the campaign failed in the judges’ collective opinion.

In contrast, this year, entries that were shredded at the forums, like the Alumex campaign by Triad, went on to win metal, while creators of work that won initial high praise (such as Leo Burnett’s ‘coffee cup’ and O&M’s ‘other side’) were left scratching their heads as to why their entries didn’t score higher, or in the latter case, weren’t even awarded. Obviously, not everything’s of equal standard, but it would have been cool to understand why a piece that received no criticism didn’t do better. In the case of the Coffee Cup, I thought it was a much better piece of communication than Triad’s Walls. The former in addition to being brilliant, also did its job in selling the Harry Potter brand; on the other hand, the Walls did a shit job in selling the paint brand (I don’t even know which brand it was), but appealed to the judges sense of karma by going beyond advertising into the realm of community service. Continue reading “Chillies ’08 — Were the Judges Scamming?”

Scamming the Chillies

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. Continue reading “Scamming the Chillies”