Scam and scandal in the family

15 Apr,2013


By Meghna Sharma


Goafest is over but the controversies that surrounded it will take a while to die down. The last month or two saw a lot happening in the advertising industry in the country – first, Ogilvy not participating in Creative Abby because it didnt ‘energise’ them enough, then the whole JWT-Ford fiasco with high-profile exits, and the latest being Leo Burnett withdrawing two of their award-winning entries.


Scams have been around and are almost a given every year, or so it seems. Hardly anyone seems shocked, though the end result is a bad name for the advertising industry. Is it a fact that scandal is part and parcel of the ad game? Should we shrug and get on with things, or can something be done, asks MxMIndia.


Priti Nair, Director, Curry Nation

It’s not just here but scams and controversies are part and parcel of award shows all across the globe. According to me, unless certain rules are changed nothing can be done to avoid them. Also, shows should treat the creative awards just like fashion shows wherein we recognize and applaud creativity. The whole thing of it being published before has to gotten rid of. It is indeed sad when such things happen, but the worst part is that it sometimes leads to bad blood among the industry and finger-pointing starts. The awards are meant to showcase creativity and the focus should be only that!



Viral Pandya, CCO, Out of the Box

There are pros and cons to scam ads, or rather two ways of looking at the issue.


First the cons. A lot of clients are not evolved, and let us accept it, reluctant to buy edgy work. Therefore quite a few agency creatives, particularly the junior lot, are frustrated. So sitting in one quiet corner of the office, they get their jollies by churning out scam. The process gives them release, but in the bargain they don’t get to learn how to understand a brief, how to sell one’s work to the client, or even how to do effective advertising.


As the adage goes, bad currency drives out good currency. Likewise, scam ads are chasing away good, real ads. If only agencies put as much time, money and resources behind genuine work! What is unfortunate is that today there are clients, particularly those possessed with the entrepreneurial spirit, who demand great work. This is not to forget that agencies like Taproot and Ogilvy do sterling work on regular clients, but they are an exception rather than the rule.


Now for the pros. Proactive work created for awards pushes the envelope and celebrates ideas. Often you come across work so brilliant that you don’t give a damn whether it’s scam. And the ads specially created for award shows do win us metals globally and bring us glory. Personally I can understand and relate to the urge to prove to the world that we in India are second to none in the creative race. Only, I wish that instead of pulling each other down, we could support and promote each other and present a united front to the world.


So where does that leave us?

Here’s my solution. At GoaFest, let us award real work, and by real work I don’t mean work that meets the legal definition of released work, but ads that agencies can put their hand on their heart and say are genuine. Let us also have a category for proactive work which celebrates creativity and ideas, but does not split hairs about how genuine it is. And let us ensure that there is a clear distinction between the two. That way we eliminate the unfair competition between genuine ads and proactive ads. And everybody wins.


Nisha Singhania, Co-founder and Director, Infectious

Scams have been part and parcel of the industry for quite some time now, but the series of events which have happened in past couple of weeks will surely make everyone more careful. Also, I think as a whole the industry needs to take a call about how they can pit and end to this. After all, the feeling of winning an award of something genuine is far more than on a scam ad.




Dhunji Wadia, President, Everest Brand Solutions

It is difficult to justify something that is wrong. The Ford controversy was covered in world media including some of the biggest news channels. We got our 30 seconds of fame globally but for all the wrong reasons. The controversy has made us a laughing stock throughout the world. I guess today there is pressure on agencies to win at award shows. Questions that come to mind are -‘How far would you want to go?’ and ‘Would you want to sell your soul for this?’ If you want to make a Faustian bargain, then learn to deal with the consequences too.


Today, there is a lot of talk of having a separate category for this kind of work. But I think that is just side-stepping the issue. The persons wanting to win will want the real McCoy. They are not going to settle for anything less. Instead the auditing companies can have a larger role here. All major award forums have auditors for this very purpose. Henceforth, it should not be enough for clients to merely endorse the work that is sent for award forums. They should also have paid for it and the work should be part of their marketing plan. I am sure the auditing companies would have dealt with much more complex issues. This verification should be a piece of cake for them.


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