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


Scam Is A Four Letter Word …
March 21, 2014, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

To the agencies who do scam … win awards because of that scam … then hype themselves up as being “the best” because of that scam.

You might be fooling some people, but you’re not fooling the rest of us.

You’re tragic.

You’re part of the reason our industry has lost the respect of business.

The only thing worse is the industry accepts it.

Justifies it.

Say’s things like, “we’re showing business what we could do for them”.

It doesn’t.

You can’t show business what we can do for them when you decide on the problem, the solution and validate it’s success by the number of creative awards it achieved … creative awards given to you by people who have a vested interest in keeping the whole charade going.

Adland has a lot it can offer the World.

It can help business grow and helping society thrive.

It contains thousands of incredibly talented people who can genuinely make a lasting difference to millions of people.

But scam fucks over that talent.

Scam is about selfishness not selflessness.

Winning a bunch of little statues for fake work doesn’t make you a genius.

Winning a bunch of little statues for fake work doesn’t earn you respect from business.

At least not business that’s worth being respected by.

By all means do ‘spec work’ for a client that you think is good. By all means do ‘spec work’ for a client and enter it into awards … but have the decency to admit it’s a ‘showcase’ rather than something real.

If you do that, I’m cool with it being judged.

If you do that, I’m cool with it being awarded.

It means it’s being celebrated for it’s ingenuity and craft which might, just might, influence a client to change their mind about what they could do in the future.

Or better yet, create your own product and do work for that and show the World you’ll put your money where your mouth is, rather than leach off someone else’s hard work and risk.

But let’s face it, the companies who continually invest in scam don’t want to do either of that.

They want it easy.

They don’t want to run the risk their self defined ‘brilliance’ isn’t so brilliant.

The reality is the people who adopt that approach are lazy and delusional … however, it reaches a whole new level of insanity when they then go and promote the fact some businessmen named them über-influential on the basis they won more awards than any other agency – regardless of the fact that most of those awards were for campaigns whose legitimacy is highly questionable.

Aren’t they embarrassed about that?

Don’t they know that they’re claiming something that was built on illusion?

Surely if they’re that influential, their everyday work would be shaking up the whole industry and city. But no, it appears influential simply means any campaign that has won an award, regardless that only 10 people and a creative jury saw it.

Doesn’t anyone care about substance any more?

Is the industry that happy to keep the delusion alive?

Thank god for the real agencies who do real work of value, or our industry would be sinking faster than an American Idol finalists career.


32 Comments so far
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Brilliant.

Comment by George

It was a slow start but your posts have got progressively better through the week. This is the best of the lot. I agree with every word you’ve written and it highlights exactly why business doesn’t trust agencies anymore. Who would give their money to an industry whose proof of success are self adjudicated awards for self defined problems?

I don’t know who you are referring to but my money would be on one of the holding companies “jewels”. Great post Rob.

Comment by Pete

Here’s something that won 37 advertising and PR awards – but sadly it didn’t work and, worse still, its goal was more important than sales.

http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/02/26/seoul-anti-suicide-initiative-backfires-deaths-increase-over-than-six-times/

Comment by John

When will agencies understand raising awareness doesn’t mean stopping the problem. That “Dumb ways to die” won so many awards shows the industry still confuses popularity with effectiveness. (I think it also won some effectiveness awards which is more evidence there are lies, damn lies and statistics.)

Comment by Pete

dumb ways was fucking good. hyped to fuck and over fucking lauded but still fucking good.

Comment by andy@cynic

I liked Dumb Ways To Die too … but the way adland latched onto it and bestowed it with all sorts of awards [from effectiveness to integration … which I know it was, but let’s be honest, most people would know it purely as a really beautifully crafted, charming piece of TVC/digital film] and claimed it was the ‘future of advertising’ shows how sorry a state this industry really is in.

Comment by Rob

suicide bridge shows how fucking effective ads can be. the client told them to raise awareness of suicide and a 600% rise in people killing themselves showed they fucking did just that.

Comment by andy@cynic

The thing I find the most amusing about this approach is that the agencies don’t accept the ad they did for “Mick’s BBQs” is scam, because it ran in the media. Once. In a regional free paper. Which they paid for.

Delusional doesn’t do it justice.

I owe you an apology Rob, I never really appreciated how evil-excellent your scampaign magazine was. You should bring it back then show business the guilty parties. As you say, thank goodness for the agencies that show their talent and value on the clients who pay for them to do real work to grow their business.

Comment by Bazza

Micks BBQ. Gold.

Comment by DH


I hate when Pete is right.

Comment by DH

How come Y&R weren’t the most influential agency when you were there Rob? If you can’t win an award for something you just have to pay for, just how bad must you be?

Comment by DH

Because we stupidly entered real work like Sony and VB. How shortsighted of us.

Comment by George

Like paying to have your name appear in who’s who.

Comment by DH

Of course the other scam is when an agency enters one piece of work in to 10,000 different categories so it appears they have a breadth of award winning work when really they just have one. Behind the gloss is a large amount of the smelly stuff.

Comment by George

youre fucking loving this arent you. remember you fucking used to work in the gutter like the rest of us rats. except i dont fucking work anymore except as a fucking nappy changer. similar situation, still dealing with shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh that’s a good one too … and as I said in a below comment, it carries on because it suits the agency and the award organiser. The only loser are the people who hire them based on these ‘successes’ … though if they fall for the gloss and don’t look behind the curtain, they deserve all they get.

That’s why the agencies who win awards for creative work that is real [by that I mean they were commissioned by a client to do it on their behalf, invested real media dollars behind it and achieved quantifiable commercial value for their client because of it] should be celebrated to a far greater extent.

Mind you, quite often the work that impacts commerce and culture the most doesn’t need any massive award submission to explain/justify it because society knows it, were touched by it and responded in their droves to it.

Comment by Rob

Complicity in illusion.

Comment by George

Reason why the IPA Effectiveness Award should be the leading indicator of what agencies are worth their salt or not… the Gunn Report does not even take into account effectiveness and is highly skewed towards scampaigns.

Comment by Miguel

those who cant do. scam. or become planners. which is another fucking scam.

Comment by andy@cynic

I tell all the chicks how I was voted best man about town and they love it. Who cares that my mum gave me that title. If they don’t ask they don’t care and if it is getting me laid I don’t either.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I thought this comment was an ironic statement about the sort of clients who blindly fall for agencies who hype their dubious accolades, then I realised it was you and that was unlikely to have been your intention.

Comment by Pete

getting laid by your left hand doesnt count.

Comment by andy@cynic

Why is everyone getting upset about scam ads. Business is one massive scam, they’re just trying to up their game and win big like the banks. You’re pissing on ambition. You’re all a bunch of bastards.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Well it seems my anger got the desired response … but by the same token, I know I’m speaking to the ‘converted’ so it’s not really going to do anything to change things is it … especially when it’s in the interests of so many agencies and award shows to keep it going exactly as it is currently going.

Comment by Rob

Written like a Forest supporter.

Comment by John

They’re not a scam, they’re just hope vampires.

Comment by Rob

Great point Rob. The industry and the award companies are codependents, which is why this situation is allowed to continue.

Comment by Pete

Love the post Robert. The comments aren’t bad either.

Comment by Wayne Green

All excellent. I included sleight of hand with econometrics in this by the way
Isn’t it part of a wider problem where all that matters is clever execution rather than innovative problem solving?

Comment by Northern

Or clever framing of ‘success’ … though where scam is concerned, they don’t even pretend to do that.

Comment by Rob

What has David Blaine got to do with this?

Comment by DH




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