It's Time To End The Cannes Advertising Festival.
The just completed 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity made $28.2 million in entry fees alone, up over four million from 2013. British media company Top Right Group runs the Festival, since buying it from French businessman Roger Hatchuel in 2004 for £52 million.
The entry fees for work are fucking extortion (which befits the industry). Plus, you pay a €2,710 fee (which includes nothing) just to attend the week-long event. The profit margin for the Festival is somewhere north of 60%.
What's it all for? To win a statue of a partial lion.
Talk about an insecure industry, full of insecure people.
To save yourself/your agency a lot of money, you should just buy your own Gold Lion for €1,250, and get it engraved to say whatever the fuck you want.
That would be a "scam" you say?
Well, exactly how many of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Press ad winners do you think actually appeared in the "press", or anywhere at all other than an art director's iMac screen?
Above (click to enlarge) is one ad from a Silver Lion Press campaign for Panasonic auto A/C. After ad tracking services could find no record of the campaign, Australian media site Mumbrella had the audacity to ask Panasonic and their ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney where the ads had run. Panasonic had no comment. Saatchi released this statement:
“The Panasonic Nanoe TM technology for Automotive Airconditioners is one of the most innovative technologies used in the automotive industry. We (Saatchi & Saatchi) developed the dog print ads campaign as a project for Panasonic to demonstrate the benefit of fresher air through this technology in an engaging way that everyone can relate to. The print campaign ran in March and April.”No publications proffered. In other words, it never ran.
This (click to enlarge) is one of three ads (which suck) from a McDonald's campaign that just won a Bronze Press Lion. The lack of a logo is a pretty good clue that they're fake ads. And again, no evidence has been found by tracking services that they ran anywhere.
In response to the question of where exactly the ads ran, a McDonald's PR rep said:
"We were really pleased with the Big Mac Legends campaign which was rolled out across outdoor and radio in addition to print placements."Zero specifics. That's right: now clients are even in on the scams. The reason? The internet. Lion winners get lots of worldwide online press, which means thousands—even millions— of dollars of free media placement. You can't blame 'em for playing along.
That Cannes is a scamfest is not news in the ad industry—it's been that way for years. But it used to be mostly South American and Asian ad agencies submitting fake entries. Now, it's a global phenomenon.
Who cares, right? No harm, no foul.
Well, careers are made and hindered by these statues, or lack thereof. Major business decisions are made and relationships are severed based on how many Lions ad agencies have on their shelves.
Last week, Sir John Hegarty, founding partner of London based ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and the creator of a decent ad or two, commented on the abundance of Cannes scam ads, saying:
"It is a delusional practice, and the problem is we've created a beast called awards and it's taken over. What Cannes should be about is how creativity aids branding and builds business."Jose Miguel Sokoloff, chief creative officer of Lowe, an ad agency with a markedly less creative reputation than BBH, countered Hegarty thusly:
"I have to disagree with John. I agree that there is a lot of work created just for awards, but think of it like a Formula 1 operation. Honda has a F1 programme just to win races. But also what they learn from testing becomes part of the car’s engine.”So: ad creatives are just like race car drivers. There you go, douchebags, you've got a new pick-up line.
Sokoloff is just one of a growing number of top creatives worldwide who want to turn Cannes into an ad school wall where you hang your best spec work. Great. Let's make it more of an auto-erotic circle jerk than it already is. Fucking pathetic.
Don't expect host Top Right Group to start attempting to crack down on scam entries; they're making big money off of them.
That leaves the policing to the judging panels, which are made up of the world's top creative directors. Yeah, not going to happen. They're there for one reason: to spend a free week shitfaced on the Mediterranean.
Note: this wonderful Christmas campaign for Harvey Nichols won the Grand Prix Press Lion (and also the Promo Grand Prix Lion). It did, in fact, run. Update: And it won the Film and Integrated Grand Prix Lions.