Beginning his article with that famous rallying call, a guy called Anubis has done a truly exceptional job of exposing the full extent of the scams of FP7 Doha (see post of two days ago, and thanks to everyone who drew my attention to this).

For example, he shows how they even doctored the packs in a series of print ads for a brand of mouthwash, to make them more aesthetically pleasing and hence awardable:

Read the full piece here.

As promised, I've been doing a bit of journalism - for you, my work-avoiding readers - and I've got in touch with an Asian ECD, to get a view from the region which is (perhaps unfairly) most associated with scam or ghost work.

He's a pretty big cheese - David Guerrero, founder, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO Guerrero in Manila.


This is what he has to say on the subject:

The FP7 situation is a debacle, and I don't want to look like their apologist... which I'm most certainly not.

However, there is a genuine distinction between what they did and the genuine push for innovation that agencies everywhere undertake for major clients.

I think there's a lot of self-righteous bullshit about Asia being a scam factory coming from London (and other first world locations).

A flick back through old D&AD's will reveal all kinds of dodgy executions for car repairs, fish and chip shops, TV repair shops, school plays, architectural historians etc.

However it does have to be said that Jim Aitchison, Neil French and many others since have made a lot of ads for a lot of smallish clients out of Singapore which picked up a lot of metal at global shows back in the 90s.

And since then a steady stream of Aussies, Brits and Yanks have made their way there seeking to emulate their stellar rise to international stardom or even just a nicer job when they go home after a few years. I interviewed Jim Aitchison about this a few years ago for Campaign Brief and he said that the secret of Singapore is simply that there's nothing else to do at weekends except work on ads and get them into shows.

However to write off the entire continent of over 2 billion people because of a few expats in one city-state is going a bit far. Thailand has developed a truly vibrant and highly recognized TV industry with at one point two out of the top 10 directors in the Gunn Report coming from there. There's no suggestion that this is scam because you can see the work on TV every night and clients have come to demand great work.

Basically small clients and initiatives to big ones are seen as ways of raising the bar for creative teams and for clients themselves.

Western Multinational clients (with some honorable exceptions) in Asia tend to be extremely risk averse and prone to formulaic work. There are exceptions obviously but they themselves are subject to a lot of regional and global controls on the process. Locally-headquartered Asian clients can vary greatly in their appetite for interesting work. Local entrepreneurs tend to be braver because they think (rightly) that it will work better for them. However as they get larger they start to want to imitate the Western Multinationals clients...

So as far as a 'philosophy' goes it's probably something like: the only way we're going to compete in international shows is to push work to mainstream clients when circumstances allow and keep one or two projects on the go with pro-bono clients and/or Small and Medium size businesses in the hope that a) they will allow the agency to do more interesting work and b) that they will someday get bigger.

Our agency just launched a pilot scheme where we approached a local business organization and asked them to put themselves forward for 3 months free work from a junior team of creatives, planners and suits in the agency. They then pitched to us and we selected three of them (a chain of car repair shops, a high-end boutique cosmetics firm and a small chain of clothing stores.) Our teams (composed of around eight or so 'rising stars' were then set loose on these accounts with minimal supervision from senior management. We'll see the work before it gets presented - and then catch up with the client at the end of the program. If they want to continue the relationship they pay us at our regular rates. If not then they are free to take the work we've done for them and use it.


Interesting how we're all very quick to brand "Asian creatives" as the worst scammers... then Guerrero points out that many of the offenders in those parts are actually ex-pat Brits or Aussies.

Anyway, we can't expect Cannes or the other awards organisers to do anything about the problem. They depend on entry fees. And on Agencies' honesty.

And I doubt individual jurors can do anything. If we throw out a piece of work because it 'smells fishy', we run the risk of undermining the efforts of people who've legitimately busted their balls to get an ad shot and run on their own initiative.

The name-and-shame approach that Anubis is adopting seems like the best course of action to me.

I applaud him.

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