Scam Ads

By Graham Thomas

Scam ads done by ad agencies just to win awards are the bane of advertising. After all, are there scam movies winning Oscars? Or scam books winning the Booker Prize? Or scam art winning the Turner? Or scam journalism getting a Pulitzer? (Well sometimes there is and then the journalist is cast into hell.)

What is a scam?

There are a number of types:

– the ad written for some non-existent client, that never appears in any media but is still submitted for awards.

– or the client is something like a bar in Singapore and the ad appears once in a free-sheet, and any cost is borne by the agency.

– maybe the client is a bona-fide client of the agency but the ad is done without their knowledge and appears without them even knowing.

– pro-bono charity ads where the client is told that the work will be done for free but they’re not allowed to interfere.

No scam ad has ever seen a brief.

Scam ads mean that the creatives aren’t working on client business; it eats into the resource of the agency; there might be some financial shinnanigans taking place with client and agency money.

But most importantly they are easy. The difficult, the creative skill in advertising is to be able to take a boringly banal brief for a banal product and turn it into magic. Or even a great product but to do something that is completely unexpected. Great ads have to be able to get through brand managers and procurement people. They have to be researched.

They have to survive.



1 Response to “Scam Ads”

  1. 1 Anon
    April 7, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Interesting discussion on scam in SE Asia here:

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