Scam Ads Are Nothing New. Perhaps The Old Ways Of Judging Aren’t Working.

Every advertising awards show season brings with it a crop of scam ads that get entered into shows and win. This year (and it’s still early in the year,) a campaign created by JWT India for Ford got nailed for being fake. The creatives supposedly responsible for the ads were terminated.

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Ad Age has been on the story all week.

Not only has the Ford scandal been a ding to JWT India’s reputation, it’s also now leaving the agency without senior creative and account leadership, since these executives –and possibly others under the Blue Hive group at the shop that runs the carmaker’s business– must now be replaced.

Few issues raise the hackles of agency folks like awards shows. Invariably, the bigger (and more international) the show, the higher the stakes are. Because awards shows equal more money, power and stature in our business. It’s the primary metric by which creatives are judged, and unless that changes, scam ads will always exist.

Also, the circle of judges for big shows stays remarkably tight. They all know each other (or of each other) and protect their own. The panels skew overwhelmingly male, so ads that win disproportionately represent male “frat boy” humor. Perhaps it’s time to open up shows like The One Show so that all of its members (a few hundred) can vote on the awards. Or agencies who choose to enter a category can’t have one of its own people judge that category or show. How about a “People’s Choice” show where the public votes? I think creative people would be shocked and horrified to see what would win a show like that.

All of this reminded me that a few years ago, I judged an ADDY show in a small market. After the judging was finished, we got an email from the director of the show saying the Best Of Show we chose didn’t actually run. So we chose another spot, in time for the awards night. It’s quite possible that, for all the derision they get, local ADDYs have more integrity than the CLIOS or Cannes Lions.

About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.