Fewer scam ads this year: the Ford-Tata Chem effect or agencies moving away from Abby?

27 Dec,2013

By A Correspondent


We don’t know the reason for this. But from the information that we get on the street, there have been fewer scam ads released thus far. So did the JWT-Ford and Leo Burnett-Tata Chemicals episodes cause a reduction in proactive work (better known as scam ads)


Expectedly, no one from the agency or the newspaper circuit went on record on the issue. But a senior official at a publication where many such ads appear said the dip is more than 80 percent this year. “December-end is a Diwali-like situation for scam ads. There are creative ads pleading for releases, and even though the ads aren’t priced very high, it’s significant revenue for publications,” said an industryperson requesting anonymity.


Typically, all entries for the Creative Abby 2014 need to be released in Calendar Year 2013, hence there is a rush for releasing ads by December 31. According to an observer,  the last two days of the year may well see an increase in such releases, because many agencies haven’t yet decided on their participation at the Creative Abby at Goafest 2014. “The creatives are ready for publication, but if they don’t participate at Goafest, then the releases will happen in Jan-Feb, in time for Cannes Lions and some international fests.”


However, when this reporter spoke to an agency head, the Ford and Tata Chemicals episodes has scared large agencies as well as clients. “No one wants to lose a job or a client because of a scam ad,” he said. Scam ads are typically proactive work done by agencies as part of ideas generated for their clients which are not released commercially or ads created only for awards, often for clients who do not advertise at all (like a cobbler or a provisions store). These are generally in the print/outdoor/poster/digital/radio categories where the creation costs are low.


Most agency heads we have spoken with say that it’s impossible to put a check on scam ads. There could be genuine cases where advertisers may insert special ads for occasions like Diwali or their anniversary. These are generally single insert ads in the papers or on billboards… so does one rule these out?


So what’s the solution? “None, except a self-regulation. Agencies must not encourage the creation of ‘scam’ work for awards… the problem is that these directives often come from the top.” For a few years, there has been a discussion on creating a category for unpublished work at the Abby, but that hasn’t happened till day.


Another agency head said that if the industry is serious about putting an end to this kind of advertising, the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) must issue an advisory on this and ask its members to not send any scam ads for awards.


Watch this space for more.


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