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The ad less traveled.

There are ads we know because we’ve seen them. In newspapers, on TV, on the web. They got around. They traveled into the real world and did the dirty work of convincing people to do the right thing. They had to try hard, and it often shows.

And there are other ads, which suddenly appear at award shows. The look clean and shiny like they’ve just hopped out the shower. They don’t need a sales pitch, don’t need copy, hey! sometimes they don’t even need a real idea.

Take the now infamous DDB Brasil WWF 9/11 ad. It seems to say something like this: The Tsunami killed way more people than 9/11, so all these planes will crash in your neighborhood unless you do … do what? Neither the WTC attackers nor the Tsunami are within the reach of my environmental impact. Silly message. Bad ad. But at an award show… big impact. Tadaaa. Turns out, it’s no surprise the thing is pointless. The client saw it, but never approved it to “really” run. So DDB Brasil ran it once. In Israel :-)

Don’t get me wrong: advertising award shows are not yet like the Tour de France, where now only 50% hope for interesting sportsmanship and the other 50% hope to catch someone biking with the needle still sticking in his thigh.

But we’re getting there. So far, sanctions have rarely amounted to more than a slap on the wirst, while mostly, you’re still more likely to get a pat on the back and a medal. The WWF ad did. At The One Show. Now the One Club, who runs the OneShow, one of the oldest and most reputed award shows in advertising is a. pissed. and b. trying to change the rules of the game, starting next season:

You cheat, you’re banned.

These are the new rules (read the complete statement at oneclub.org)

  1. An agency or regional office of an agency network that enters an ad made for nonexistent clients, or made and run without a client’s approval, will be banned from entering the One Show for 5 years.
  2. The entire team credited on the ‘fake’ entries will be banned from entering the One Show for 5 years.
  3. An agency or regional office of an agency network that enters an ad that has run once, on late night TV, or has only run because the agency produced a single ad and paid to run it themselves*, will be banned from entering The One Show for 3 years.

Why so harsh? Because facing more than 17000 entries per year, it is virtually impossible for The One Show to validate all the submitted information about the true realness of the ad. Which means that, as award shows get bigger and bigger, the risk of any single agency scam ad getting caught is getting continuously lower. With all the due consequences. So One Show decided to up the game. And increase the risk a little bit.

Now – in advertising as biking – France is where it counts. Unless Cannes takes a simlar route, this does not mean anything will change. Immediately though, this means many things for the OneShow. First of all a significantly lower amount of submitted work :-) and subsequently income :-( While that is a risky play in itself, it also has repercussions regarding the ranking of a festival among its intended target group: advertising creatives, the press, and clients. What impact does it have on an award show, where some of the funniest ads will not be on display.


PS: Thanks, DDB Brazil, great example how an idea that never travelled can still go all the wrong places. :-) To be fair, though, you couldn’t have known.


3 Responses to “The ad less traveled.”
  1. Thanks again for keeping the spotlight on this topic, added to my bookmarks,

  2. Just cannot believe this, thanks for keeping me updated. Ive just subscribed to your blog now,

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