Award winning McDonald’s campaign ran in Rouse Hill Times

The campaign as it appeared in the Rouse Hill Times

The campaign as it appeared in the Rouse Hill Times

An award-winning print campaign which saw its agency refuse to disclose where it ran, was published in a suburban local newspaper on the last day of eligibility for this year’s Cannes Lions, Mumbrella can reveal.

Creative agency DDB – which won a bronze Press Lion, just one of three trophies for Australia in the category – insists that the McDonald’s ads were a legitimate part of its client’s marketing efforts and not a “scam” ad designed to win trophies.

The ad ran in News Corp’s Rouse Hill Times, which has a circulation of 21,097, on April 30. In order to be eligible, ads have to be published between March 1 2013 and April 30 this year.

The single edition of the paper carried four separate executions of the Big Mac Legends campaign, including the Bronze Lion winning “Superman” and “Darth Vader” executions.

Each of the four executions appeared as a half page.

Questions had originally been raised by Mumbrella readers about how widely the campaign had been run, along with that of Panasonic’s Silver Cannes Press Lions winner created by Saatchi & Saatchi. But the agencies and brands refused to disclose where they had been printed. Australia’s two main media monitoring services Nielsen and Ebiquity were originally unable to find evidence of either campaign having run.

Mumbrella was tipped off about the Rouse Hill Times McDonald’s campaign within the last 72 hours. (The campaign can be viewed online via the NewsLocal viewer – search for the Rouse Hill Times and  April 30, and go to page 13 onwards.)

DDB told Mumbrella today the executions were submitted to McDonald’s as part of the same brief which saw the Big Mac Chant campaign go to air as a TV ad last August. Although the ad appears to bear little relation to the idea at the heart of the “chant” TV ad, DDB insists that the print execution was proposed as part of the same “integrated” campaign. The agency would not say what led to the print ads being run on the one occasion some months later, other than to refer to them having “tested well”.

Scam ads are a constant issue in international awards shows, and seen as ads that are created or published for the purpose of winning advertising awards rather than to solve a business problem. Scam ads either do not run in media at all or are placed cheaply in a minor publication to reach minimum entry requirements.

The rate-card cost of a full colour half-page ad in the Rouse Hill Times is $949.21 including GST.

The Rouse Hill Times is a sister publication to the Manly Daily. In 2008, DDB apologised for cheaply publishing press ads for Wrigley and Cycling Australia as single columns on the back page of the Manly Daily.

According to the rules of the Cannes Lions, “all entries must be submitted for judging exactly as published, aired or implemented and may not be modified for awards entry”, with the exception of entries not originally in English which “may be translated as long as the presentation is exactly the same as the original version”.

Mumbrella has been unable to ascertain from DDB or organisers Cannes Lions whether the ads were submitted as double pages to the jury or at the half page size they ran in the paper. The apparent fold in the image below exists as part of the design.

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.10.30 PM

McDonald’s Darth Vader execution

The four executions ran one after another starting with a Muhammed Ali execution and finishing on page 19 with a Marilyn Monroe version.

Last week, Terry Savage, chairman of the Cannes Lions,told Mumbrella the McDonald’s and Panasonic campaigns were “legitimate”. However, he declined to answer further questions, saying it was “not appropriate” to do so.

McDonald's Muhammed Ali Big Mac Legend

Muhammed Ali Big Mac Legends execution

Until now DDB Sydney has declined to comment on the campaign. However, following on from an open letter from Mumbrella on Friday, calling on the staff of DDB and Saatchi & Saatchi to help resolve the question of the campaigns’ legitimacy, DDB issued the following statement:

“Whilst we have no issue with mUmbrella raising questions around awards entries, we have been disappointed with the ongoing speculation around the legitimacy of our McDonald’s campaign, especially given our client confirmed very early on that the campaign was approved by them and Cannes have stated the entries met their entry requirements.  DDB made a decision not to comment given both McDonald’s and Cannes had addressed this with mUmbrella.  However, we take the duty of care to our staff very seriously and due to the naming of staff we feel it is appropriate to state the facts.

“The Big Mac brief was briefed into DDB by McDonald’s in April 2013. ‘Big Mac Legends’ was part of the creative response that went through independent market research mid-2013 and tested well.  It formed part of the integrated Big Mac campaign, highlighting the iconic nature of the ingredients and it ran as print, radio and outdoor executions, whilst ‘Big Mac Chant’ was our execution in TV and digital. The media for this campaign was approved and paid for by McDonald’s and bought by the media agency. As McDonald’s has already stated, specifics of media schedules are never shared.

“We feel in this context it is important to note that DDB has a rigorous Awards Policy. We support creative awards like Cannes as an opportunity to showcase and celebrate bold creative thinking and work that pushes the boundaries. Our policy around entering work is that it must be for a real, ongoing contracted client of the agency, the work that is entered must be approved by the client, the work must have run and the media must be paid for by the client.”

DDB declined to answer further questions around the executions, including where the radio and outdoor versions ran.

Meanwhile, Mumbrella has still been unable to find evidence of Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney’s campaign for Panasonic in-car air conditioning. We welcome all information via anonymous email if preferred to

The Big Mac chant ad which emerged from the same brief:

Miranda Ward


  1. Scott Rhodie
    14 Jul 14
    2:55 pm

  2. I wonder how long it took to come up with the idea, along with the creative. I wonder how many hours went into this campaign for it to appear in a paper with a circulation of under 22,000.

    It may have been published but it certainly looks like it was solely created to win an award rather than convert business. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great idea I’m just baffled as to why they wouldn’t want it to run elsewhere unless it was solely created to win awards.

    If I was in charge of McDonalds Australia I’d be pretty pissed off about how much money was wasted on a single campaign that only appeared in one newspaper. In fact I’d be having words with staff about how something like this got signed off.

  3. Cognitive DIssonance
    14 Jul 14
    2:57 pm

  4. You know what would be awesome now?

    Given that the ad ran for such a small amount of time in only one publication, it would be great to get the stats from the local Rouse Hill McDonalds on changes in numbers of customers through the door after the ad was published PLUS the change in the purchasing behaviour of customers.

    Such a specific publication strategy is an excellent opportunity to show that award winning creativity can have a spectacular Return On Investment.

    Given that this campaign won at Cannes and was produced by a world-leading agency such as DDB, surely the upswing in demand experienced by the local Maccas must have been significant.

  5. Case Closed
    14 Jul 14
    2:59 pm

  6. I’m surprised they actually dignified this beat-up with an answer. And as suspected, it does meet the entry requirements – it’s an open/shut case. An apology to the staff in question will be pending we presume?

  7. Nic
    14 Jul 14
    3:06 pm

  8. [Edited under Mumbrella’s content moderation policy] makes our industry look very shonky and undoes all the hard work of the honest people who work in it.

    I’ve never placed much importance on awards, I’ve always found my handwork and honesty has been more appreciated by my clients. I’m sure lots of people feel the same.

    Well done Mumbrella on getting the facts straight!

  9. Ash Long
    14 Jul 14
    3:07 pm

  10. Move on Mumbrella. Nothing to see here. A legit ad in a legit newspaper. Or do you wish to insult the local newspaper industry and suggest we do not provide legitimate readership. I’ll bet local media outlasts some online news outlets!

  11. Brett McWhatevs
    14 Jul 14
    3:08 pm

  12. Looks integrated. Apathetic indie folk music with floating game avatars (see: Aku Aku, from Crash Bandicoot) on a sesame seed bun.

    This whole industry is self-indulgent. You didn’t invent anything. You didn’t change anything. Your poor efforts earned my attention, the rest of the country couldn’t care if you lived to make another ad.

  13. anon
    14 Jul 14
    3:09 pm

  14. rouse hill times the day of entry due date..c’mon seriously DDB & Macca’s. Least it ran i guess, [edited under Mumbrella’s comment moderation policy]

  15. Pulling a fast one
    14 Jul 14
    3:11 pm

  16. Holy smoke, that is so bogus! Seriously, running the ad the last day before entriy qualification in a suburban rag stinks big time.

  17. ReOpen The Case
    14 Jul 14
    3:12 pm

  18. yo Case Closed, I’m real happy for you and imma let you finish, but you and your agency don’t get to decide when this is closed. This is a clear cut a case of “just to win the award” and part of the reason Bill Hicks said everyone in marketing or advertising should go suck a tail pipe.

  19. Another Agency
    14 Jul 14
    3:16 pm

  20. Scam ads “either do not run in media at all or are placed cheaply in a minor publication to reach minimum entry requirements”.

    Precisely what we have here. The very definition of Scam ads. Thanks for clearing that up DDB and congrats on the award. I hope it was worth it.

  21. Bernbach would turn in his grave
    14 Jul 14
    3:16 pm

  22. This might be quite funny if it didn’t amount to cheating.

  23. M4tt
    14 Jul 14
    3:17 pm

  24. I think the point, Case Closed, is that while it (barely) meets the entry criteria, it’s still very clearly a scam ad. Run once, in a small paper, on the last day of eligibility.

    It’s only a beat up if you’re part of the team trying to hose it off.

  25. Patrick
    14 Jul 14
    3:19 pm

  26. If this ad was legitimate – great. If it was scam then what it shows is how creativity has been replaced by stupidity and immaturity in our industry. However if DDB says it was legitimate so we must take their word for it.

  27. Creative Hack
    14 Jul 14
    3:21 pm

  28. “…it does meet the entry requirements.” So where did your scam ads run then, Case Closed… the Guyra Argus?

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  29. Sadman
    14 Jul 14
    3:23 pm

  30. DDB a repeat offender.Bill Bernbach would be turning in his grave-with embarrassment and shame.

  31. Obvious now....
    14 Jul 14
    3:24 pm

  32. All Australia’s Cannes winning work runs in Rouse Hill.
    They have the same tastes as Cannes juries…

  33. PR Hack
    14 Jul 14
    3:28 pm

  34. @Case Closed, it might have run and therefore technically met the requirements, but it’s hard to deny that placing it in The Rouse Hill Times a few days before entries closed is kind of dodgy.

    And “an apology to the staff in question will be pending *we* presume”… you wouldn’t happen to be one of the “we” would you?

  35. Frank
    14 Jul 14
    3:30 pm

  36. Lesson: Get your ad published earlier than the last day of the deadline, and be sure to PR it with Mumbrella, CB, etc. That way, everyone who cares (not many) will feel like “they’ve seen it” and questions won’t be asked.

  37. Chris
    14 Jul 14
    3:31 pm

  38. “…duty of care to our staff…” = HR issue in a PR guise.

  39. Bewildered
    14 Jul 14
    3:36 pm

  40. Forget the fact it’s a scam ad! Is it really that good??? I think this calls into question the judging panel and it’s judging criteria more than the shonky entrance criteria. Has anybody called the Rouse Hill McDonalds for a comment?

  41. Kanye Wept
    14 Jul 14
    3:38 pm

  42. Rouse Hill Times? You dragged me out of my recording studio to lecture the advertising world on how I reinvented creativity in the face of the man and his efforts to hold me and my magnificent talents back, and all you can do is point to multiple insertions in a single suburban paper on a single day with a circulation of 22,000?

    I’m gonna write a song about this.

  43. Sam F
    14 Jul 14
    3:47 pm

  44. This is laugh out loud brilliant. From Rouse Hill to Cannes! Their explanation is right up there with Edmund’s ‘Great booze up’ get out in Blackadder II.

  45. Does this mean....
    14 Jul 14
    3:51 pm

  46. …that the award entry would have cost more than the media?

  47. No awards required.
    14 Jul 14
    3:56 pm

  48. Ego stroking. Like some have questioned, I’d love to see the stats around ROI and brand engagement on the ads.. Oh wait, they’re in print so you can’t really quantify it. I’m baffled that this even got through the Maccas marketing department without the Golden Arches or any other brand elements. Nice idea, average execution, non existent roll out and likely not seen or engaged with by anyone. But it’s an award winner… Lions judges? Really? DDB. Ego stroked.

  49. Rebecca
    14 Jul 14
    3:57 pm

  50. Today I learned where Rouse Hill is.

  51. ripe
    14 Jul 14
    4:01 pm

  52. this may not be ‘by the book’ cheating, but it stinks to high heaven


  53. Marketer who loves creativity
    14 Jul 14
    4:13 pm

  54. I feel as though DDB has been targeted more harshly than Saatchi’s?

    Tim – get on Saatchi’s back to get confirmation on where Panasonic’s ad ran?

  55. Ray
    14 Jul 14
    4:20 pm

  56. It’s a scam ad. It is the very definition of a scam ad.
    Lance Armstrong wasn’t any less of a cheat because he declared that “everyone else was cheating too”.

  57. peepee
    14 Jul 14
    4:29 pm

  58. Ummmm, how do you spell S-C-A-M ??

  59. LW
    14 Jul 14
    4:39 pm

  60. Dying to know where the Panasonic one ran. Rooty Hill Weekly? Bunbury Bugle? Albury Advertiser?

  61. This isn't the first time
    14 Jul 14
    4:58 pm

  62. That DDB has been caught running ads for clients in small metro papers right before Cannes.

    To all those who entered and did not receive an award, perhaps you should request your entry fee back. Particularly as Cannes has a rough cut off of the top ten percent being awarded.

    If you have a legitimate ad and you didn’t receive a prize, then that might be because something that wasn’t legitimate already had taken it’s place.

    It’s also interesting to see that DDB and Saatchi’s do not have a great presence at the Effies this year. Are they concentrating on the wrong awards perhaps?

  63. unsure
    14 Jul 14
    5:08 pm

  64. scam accusations aside, can someone tell me the point of these DDB ads?

    darth vader, muhammad ali, mcdonalds jingle? seems like a bit of a non sequitur to me. of course i’m just a mug punter on the internet, can somebody who understands advertising a little better explain why these ads won awards?

  65. JG
    14 Jul 14
    5:10 pm

  66. Media Strategy by Glen Druery
    Media Placement by Ricky Muir

  67. Tex
    14 Jul 14
    5:10 pm

  68. Well, at least they didn’t waste a fortune of the client’s money. Probably bought the space themselves. Unlike many agencies, who often push ‘brave’ ideas, when really all they want is awards. They couldn’t care less about ROI. Beyond lip service, anyway.

    I enjoy working in this industry, but we’re not exactly pillars of morality. Awards, apart from Effies perhaps, are a joke anyway. But they’re still fun to win.

  69. Marketer who loves creativity
    14 Jul 14
    5:19 pm

  70. @Cognitive DIssonance – what’s your control group?

  71. Rouse Hill Chef
    14 Jul 14
    5:24 pm

  72. Covers at the bistro at Rouse Hill RSL dioved and the queues at the local Macca’s soared… Pfffft……..

    What a waste…

  73. Naomi D Plume
    14 Jul 14
    5:39 pm

  74. Any ad that mentions ‘respiratory problems’ alongside a list of the ingredients of a Big Mac is, indeed, ‘bold thinking that pushes the boundaries’.

  75. My 2 cents
    14 Jul 14
    6:12 pm

  76. Ok- DDB gets a pass to get out of the doghouse.
    But the silence from Saatchi is now louder than ever.
    Come clean like DDB.

  77. Idea is king
    14 Jul 14
    6:24 pm

  78. The inherent flaw in this crusade, as with so many of the comments that have followed in it’s wake, is the delusion that scam ads or “ads made for awards” are somehow deemed a magic bullet or creative elixir that guarantees trophies. More so, the “drugs in sport” analogy that many desperately cling to, implies that creativity and more specifically-an award winning idea, is something which could be fraudulently conceived without the necessary skill or talent. Cannes is a creative award. So unless there is an unknown black market where award winning ideas are sold, traded or induced by some creative alchemy, the only thing this has truly established- is that the tall poppy syndrome in our industry is alive and well.

  79. Kanye Wept
    14 Jul 14
    6:29 pm

  80. @My 2 cents. Tim’s initiative got the story through a tipoff. DDB still haven’t come clean if this is to be judged against their past behaviour and contrition.

  81. Glenn Mabbott
    14 Jul 14
    6:52 pm

  82. I can’t wait to see how these ads go when entered into the Effectiveness Awards
    That’s effectiveness for ROI for client not the creative team’s CV

  83. SM
    14 Jul 14
    7:06 pm

  84. Answers it basically, though being a legitimate entry it doesn’t put to bed the dodgy situation of how it came to being or who paid for it and several other questions. Could have at least put it in something more significant like the Parra Advertiser but that media rate was probably a touch more than than a junior cut down version of a Blacktown sister paper with a Rouse Hill masthead or was to large a lean for DDB to extract as freebie.

  85. Ben
    14 Jul 14
    7:53 pm

  86. Let’s put the scam accusation to one side, DDB has said it was briefed, tested well, approved by Maccas and is now a winner at Cannes. Why dear DDB then, is it not running beyond 40,000 odd eyeballs? That’s madness, and a disservice to your client?

    Unless of course it was a scam…then it’d make sense.

  87. Dee
    14 Jul 14
    8:09 pm

  88. Insert gif of that kid from The Checkout saying “scaaaam!”

  89. Peril
    14 Jul 14
    8:22 pm

  90. Oh I love it… Macca’s have had heaps of views now, may not have run within the alloted time frame for Lions but now, think how cpm’s have reduced with so many more than those 21K from Rouse Hill … excellent strategy. In the overall scheme of things does this really matter… Macca’s got ad that has people ‘engaged’ DDB got an award. Rouse Hill Newspaper got revenue. And Mumbrella got the never ending story you can all whinge about…. so I reckon it’s an all round WIN, WIN AND WIN.. .

  91. Scam Man
    14 Jul 14
    8:55 pm

  92. Cannes make so much money from these awards. They don’t care. So many ads are scams. That Maccas ad is a joke.

  93. me
    14 Jul 14
    9:28 pm

  94. @idea is king. Look in any quality junior, mid or senior creative’s bottom drawer and you’ll see better stuff than this. There’s plenty of award winning stuff in those bottom drawers and you know it. Putting aside the fact that dog was previously a finalist for another agency and client, this is good work but seriously devalued if it never ran legitimately.

    You write as if creatives were the only people in an agency, when there is a whole retinue of suits, strategy and production who have to put up with your ‘idea is king’ attitude. Sales, brand awareness and other hard metrics are king, and if we’re lucky enough we get to do good work to reach these commercial imperatives.

    If you want to celebrate the idea as king on its own, put it on the art market and see how well it does. Or make it into a meme and send it to your mates.

  95. legends
    14 Jul 14
    10:47 pm

  96. sneaky

    know the deal, know the scam

  97. Nicole
    14 Jul 14
    11:21 pm

  98. I did not even realize Saatchi’s had Panasonic as a client??!

  99. Bag
    15 Jul 14
    5:59 am

  100. There’s a scam within a scam going on. Think inception. This scam ad is actually a long game scampaign designed to gain earned media coverage. I can hear the case study narrator already. “We leveraged an existing tension around scam ads to create an idea so contagious it had the industry up in arms. For the cost of a local newspaper ad we received….(insert barely provable statistic)”. I’m pretty sure it will be some print effectiveness award. It’s genius and we’ve all been played. Nice work DDB. Then again it could be a one dimensional scam ad which will be thoroughly disappointing.

  101. Circling sharks
    15 Jul 14
    6:49 am

  102. Well done Tim for taking the bit between your teeth and not stopping.

    Verdict: DDB complied with the rules but in a way that could only be considered for scam purposes. So you’re clever only in your ability to cheat the system, which you actually didn’t manage to get away with this time. Maccas should be pissed you’ve spent more time on yourselves than their business.

    Saatchis, we’re all looking at you now. And given Tim and mUmbrella’s tenacity thus far, here’s hoping we all keep looking until we find out the truth. Surely you won’t make DDB look like the good guys by revealing your brilliant work didn’t actually run at all?

  103. It's not a legitimate entry
    15 Jul 14
    7:50 am

  104. The rules say it cannot be ‘run once’ for the purposes of winning an award.

    This RAN ONCE!

    It is not legititamate. It is Scam! DDB have to cheat to look good!

    How embarrassing!

    Can’t do the real thing! Aren’t you good enough? Are you THAT desperate? Is your machine THAT broken!

    Ha ha ha ha ha

  105. Question
    15 Jul 14
    7:54 am

  106. Serious question DDB why continue to act like this. It’s do stupid. Just admit it’s scam. And stop. If Thorpe can admit he’s gay you can admit to this.

  107. Anonymous
    15 Jul 14
    8:39 am

  108. One problem that’s slightly irking me with this debate is that some people are inferring that winning at Cannes (just one of many award shows, Mumbrella has one too by the way) is as much about media schedules as it is about ideas.

    Fact check: It isn’t. It’s a celebration of the best creative ideas (in the category in question anyway, there is an effectiveness category for ROI).

    Many of those winning TVCs you’ve LOL’d over, used in presentations, or even forwarded to a friend haven’t so much as aired in rural Idaho. They get endorsed by the brand in question, uploaded to Youtube, and PR’d. They then become public property. And why do these executions win? Because they’re great ideas. Sure, ideas are pretty subjective, and personally I think these print ads in question are great. If they were amazing they would have won a Grand Prix. But good on them for concepting some great branded creative ideas, which were endorsed by their client and then put into the public domain – and like TVC/digital content, you are now adding to their fame, and in turn, McDonalds and Panasonic.

    It’s pretty icky stuff listening to all these people baying for blood because two industry heavyweights played by the rules, and picked up a couple of shiny door stoppers. As one poster above rightly pointed out – tall poppy syndrome is alive and well in Australia. If you believe your company/agency had a better idea, by all means submit it next year. If it’s a better idea, it’ll come out on top.

    What would you suggest a minimum print run be to pass your moral?

  109. Cognitive DIssonance
    15 Jul 14
    8:44 am

  110. @Marketer who loves creativity

    Superb interrogation of my method!

    In fact, the Rouse Hill restaurant should be the control subject for the analysis.

    We’ll look at the stats from every other McDonalds in suburban Sydney for that week with a meta analysis of the food ads for every other local newspaper for each McDonalds’ region. By cross-referencing changes in behaviour patterns and particular print ads for food in every local paper for that specific a time frame we should be able to counteract any underlying anti- or pro-McDonalds bias that may have crept into the zeitgeist for that timeframe.

    By taking all equivalent localised influences into account, we should be able to isolate the influence of an award winning ad such as this one. I don’t wish to bias the outcome by prejudging the results, but I suspect the spike in the graph might be significant given the award-winning nature of the work.

    Sure, this analysis might require a significant budgetary outlay but we’re talking about award-winning work here. Surely it’s got nothing to do with the money.

  111. Come clean DDB..
    15 Jul 14
    8:47 am

  112. How embarrassing for DDB and Terry.
    It’s no wonder they were reluctant to release the media schedule.
    Case closed indeed but not the way some ‘scam loving die-hards’ seem to be interpreting it.
    Interesting how revealing the facts can lead people to very different conclusions about legitimacy.
    Time for an admission DDB that it was indeed a scam.
    Or is this like Fonzie trying to admit he was wrong?

  113. Grouse Hill
    15 Jul 14
    8:57 am

  114. One problem that’s slightly irking me with this debate is that some people are inferring that winning at Cannes (just one of many award shows, Mumbrella has one too by the way) is as much about media schedules as it is about ideas.

    Fact check: It isn’t. It’s a celebration of branded creativity (in the category in question anyway, there is an effectiveness category for ROI). Any agency worth their salt has a crack at these. And I would sure as hell want my agency to throwing award-winning ideas at me. Why wouldn’t you?

    Many of those winning TVCs you’ve LOL’d over, used in presentations, and forwarded to friends haven’t so much as aired in rural Idaho. No media schedule, no TARPS. They get endorsed by the brand in question, uploaded to Youtube, and PR’d. They then become public property. And why do these executions win? Because they’re great ideas. Are they invalid?

    Sure, ideas are pretty subjective, and personally I think these print ads in question are great. If they were amazing they would have won a Grand Prix. But good on them for concepting some great branded creative ideas, which were endorsed by their client and then put into the public domain – and like TVC/digital content, you are now adding to their fame, and in turn, McDonalds and Panasonic.

    It’s pretty icky stuff listening to all these people baying for blood because two multi-nationals played by the rules, and picked up a couple of shiny door stoppers for making good print ads. As one poster above rightly pointed out – tall poppy syndrome is certainly alive and well in Australia.

    If you believe your company/agency had a better idea, by all means submit it next year. If it’s a better idea, it’ll come out on top. And you’ll even get a bit of fame off the back (which is the industry we’re in…right?)

    But what paper would you run it in to satisfy your own moral high ground?

    What minimum print run would make you sleep at night?

  115. Jason
    15 Jul 14
    9:05 am

  116. Every client who sits through a DDB or Saatchis & Saatchi pitch for the next decade will be rolling their eyes when the award slide comes up. Every client who sits in reception looking at all the gongs lining the walls questioning and laughing.

    The damage done to these two agencies through their behaviour, condoned within the organisations as revealed in the agency responses, will be felt in terms of growth and future revenue for many years to come.

    In an era where attribution, measurement and accountability are of greatly elevated importance, clients will be repulsed by falseness and fakeness.

  117. Rob
    15 Jul 14
    9:37 am

  118. I wonder if the ‘duty of care’ that DDB has to staff extends to not implicating them in dodgy practices that may in fact hurt their careers (or even their moral compasses)……though pity none of them had the backbone to call it scam at the time and disassociate themselves from it.

    Just shows how entrenched the win an award at all costs mentality is in this industry. All that effort and time expended on a massive circle jerk that added zero economic benefit to anyone except Cannes organisers.

    I expect these ads are being quietly removed from creatives’ books as we speak…..

  119. Groucho
    15 Jul 14
    10:04 am

  120. Now that they are busted you have to hope DDB will quietly return the award and put this matter to bed. [Edited under Mumbrella’s comment moderation guidelines]

  121. Hey Grouse Hill
    15 Jul 14
    10:10 am

  122. The point is – the agencies didn’t play by the rules.

    If it is just a celebration of ideas as you say, than remove any need for a media schedule at all. Just judge the ads and the ideas.

    But as it stands, the rules state that you cannot run an ad once for the purposes of awards.

    So this is clearly in breach of the rules.

    And the rules are there for a reason. If not, don’t have the rules. Don’t have Terry making public statements about scam ads.

    Or if you do and things like this are revealed, then they need to act. Or the entire credibility of the award show is gone.

    If they do want ads like this in the future, things that have only run once in a small publication and they want to award ideas and ideas alone, then they have to change the current rules.

    As everyone else is playing by them.

    Everyone except DDB and Saatchi & Saatchi.

    That’s the point here, a fair playing ground.

  123. willy loman
    15 Jul 14
    10:14 am

  124. Case Closed….A beat up? Really? A simple question ‘Where did the ad run?”….and now we have an answer.
    The answer tells us everything we kind of guessed.Technically it met criteria. Morally and ethically near to bankrupt I’d say.

  125. Grouse Hill
    15 Jul 14
    10:15 am

  126. …and for the record I think the ‘print’ category at award shows are more trouble than they’re worth. But if they still exist, they’re fair game.

  127. Marketer who loves creativity
    15 Jul 14
    10:19 am

  128. @Cognitive DIssonance

    Let’s do it.

    PS: I do think DDB has been more harshly targeted over this and taken most of the brunt. What about Saatchi’s?

  129. The Hills are alive
    15 Jul 14
    10:51 am

  130. As a Rouse Hill local I’d been wondering why the Mcdonalds ad looked familiar. At least it ran somewhere. I’ll be looking for the next front page feature – “Rouse Hill Times wins international advertising award”

  131. If anything, just shows we need ABS
    15 Jul 14
    11:10 am

  132. This just proves there needs to be an independent investigative agency looking into the major winners.

    I suggest the Independent Advertising Bureau of Scam.

    Show some guts.

  133. JG
    15 Jul 14
    11:10 am

  134. @ Grouse Hill. You make a fair point about “it’s all about the ideas”.

    OK, so enter them into a Festival of Ideas Awards.

    Cannes is about paid advertising, and a single insert in a local paper hardly cuts the mustard.

  135. Jason
    15 Jul 14
    11:41 am

  136. … not sure how calling a cheat a cheat can be interpreted as tall poppy syndrome except perhaps by those with a lower moral or ethical standard or by those who cheat.

  137. The actual big issue here
    15 Jul 14
    11:49 am

  138. Why didn’t the client run it more? That’s actually the most worrying thing here. This is a great response, to a really tough brief (tell people how popular McDonalds is), and someone somewhere in client land has gone… “Let’s stick to wallpaper.” The best of Cannes is a reflection of the work agencies would do if they were in charge. The ad break in A Current Affair is a reflection of what clients would do if they were in charge. You can lead a horse to water…

  139. JG
    15 Jul 14
    12:40 pm

  140. @The Hills are Alive. You mustn’t have read Grouse Hill’s post that the Awards have nothing to do with media – it’s all about the idea. So under that logic no way could the Rouse Hill Times claim an award. As you’d know media owners never have ideas – only creative agencies do. *** cough cough ***

  141. Grouse Hill
    15 Jul 14
    1:02 pm

  142. @JG – I believe there’s a category celebrating Media as well, for those instances where innovative/clever use of media drives the campaign. In this case, I’ll let you make up your mind.

  143. offal spokesperson
    15 Jul 14
    1:06 pm

  144. The single biggest SCAAAAMMM here is still Cannes. itself.

    You PAY to enter, if you do not pay, you cannot win at Cannes. does that sound like a fair and balanced competition?

    Of course not, its an ad agency piss up/circle jerk.

    The real winners in advertising are the adverts that are seen and judged by the public and that lead to increase in sales.

    Does the judging panel take the results of an ad in to any of its deliberations?

    20,000* people in an obscure Sydney suburb mean very little to the corporate results of Mcdonalds, if that advert had worked, been picked up internationally.. or even nationally, then it could be judged a success.

    All of this creativity bullshit is just that… BULLSHIT!, if you want creativity awards and recognition become an artist.

    Otherwise, just make adverts that sell.. yes they can be creative, but the MOST IMPORTANT part of them is that they WORK!

  145. John Grono
    15 Jul 14
    1:32 pm

  146. If it was THAT good an ad, wouldn’t they have run it more than once?

  147. A creative
    15 Jul 14
    11:15 pm

  148. I hate, hate, hate the awards game. But I have to play it. Why? Because that’s how you get a pay raise or a new job. It’s often part of your KPIs. Friends have lost jobs over a lack of metal. It’s our livelihood on the line.

    As entry deadlines approach, desperation sets in, at every single agency in the world.

    As long as this is how creative departments are judged, this kind of thing is what we’ll see. And if you think it’s limited to a couple of agencies, you have no idea.

  149. Ben Johnson
    15 Jul 14
    11:39 pm

  150. I just ran 100m down my street in my underpants and won. Whilst technically that makes me the fastest runner (of the few startled residents present) and the most creative (nobody else was only wearing Y fronts), I am neither the fastest 100m runner or the most creative. I had to hand back my medal but will you DDB?

  151. Idea is king
    16 Jul 14
    8:35 am

  152. @By me. Correct, the bottom drawers of great creatives world wide are probably laden with award potential. But without the actual execution of those bottom drawer ideas they remain just that, bottom-drawer. But you seem to be referring to the quality of the creative, which is your prerogative, and also the reason we have creative juries.

    And apologies if my “idea is king attitude” implied differently but I agree with you, the success of great creative work relies on a lot more people than just the creatives. But at the core of any great piece is the strength and foundation of a great idea, and it is the responsibility of all involved to safe-gaurd it- it’s what makes us a creative industry and not just an industry. This shouldn’t be a revelation. And no one should just accept being”lucky enough” to create good work, as if good creative work were an after thought or a nice-to-have.

    There are great and established awards that will champion your “metrics”, but Cannes is not one of them.

  153. Chris
    16 Jul 14
    8:43 am

  154. They only give Walkley awards to journalism that’s focused on real issues.

  155. me
    16 Jul 14
    9:13 am

  156. @idea is king. You too are correct in the assertion that an idea is the core of any successful campaign. What constitutes that idea is probably where you and I might have to agree to disagree.

  157. Huh?
    16 Jul 14
    11:29 am

  158. Hasn’t this met the criteria of the award show if it’s run? Hate the game not the player.

  159. Huw Hepworth
    16 Jul 14
    12:13 pm

  160. I’m curious to know if the Darth Vader and Superman ads were run further, would there be the chance that Disney’s and Warner Brother’s copyright lawyers would start to get involved?

    They probably won’t bother for a one-off situation like this, but trying to link a company / campaign to Star Wars / Superman without paying some permission fees is the kind of thing that sees legal departments get excited.

    (This is also a reason why scam is a bad idea – it can potentially lead to award-seeking ads ‘stretching’ the rules in multiple ways that a real campaign never could, or would cost a lot to get around.)

  161. Soapbox ambulance chaser
    16 Jul 14
    8:57 pm

  162. So basically what you’re saying is the ad was within the rules of the competition (it ran) but not up to your satisfactory level, and even though the biggest award show in the world deems it fit to be awarded, you feel the need to call it scam.

    I wish I was as pompous as thou.

    By the way – I had nothing to do with this ad. I just hate your negativity. Rules are rules, take it up with the award show if you’re not happy with them.

  163. Alex Hayes
    16 Jul 14
    9:20 pm

  164. Hi Soapbox,

    While scam meets minimum criteria does it fall in the spirit of the competition? I agree it’s a shame some good ads aren’t given a chance to run in outlets seen by millions, not a few thousand.

    We have tried to ask Cannes about this but so far we’ve had no reply. We’re still chasing them so watch this space.


    Alex – editor, Mumbrella

  165. @Alex
    16 Jul 14
    10:01 pm

  166. I agree it’s not in the spirit, but rules are rules and calling out something as ‘scam’, or ‘ineligible’ when in fact it is eligible doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of good journalism.

    Take the world cup, more specifically, diving. While you and I would agree wholeheartedly it’s not in the spirit, Brazil may differ.

    If rules are rules, and they’ve met the rules, it’s not a cause for sensationalism. They’ve played the game, played it smart, with minimal cost to their client. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who’s won many awards the real way, I agree with the sentiment. But I dare not call them cheaters – they won. Fair and square. Dive in the penalty box or no dive in the penalty box.

    And I’m sure everyone involved would have loved to have seen these run for real. Unfortunately tho, rules are rules and unfortunately, sometimes that’s the way it goes.

  167. So in summary...
    16 Jul 14
    10:27 pm

  168. “Australian agencies win print lions at Cannes. Local blog covers extensively extensively.”

  169. Brenda Kilgour
    17 Jul 14
    3:02 am

  170. It’s a decent enough bogus ad. But (and this is so frequently the case with ads that are made solely to demonstrate how oh so clever their creators are and without a view toward any audience other than awards show judges) the idea of comparing a fucking hamburger to Muhammad Ali should be deeply offensive to anyone with any knowledge of the past 50 years’ history.

  171. Client
    17 Jul 14
    7:10 am

  172. Ok- what have learnt so far?
    DDB gets a pass for playing it smarter than the average bear but suck at spin control.
    JWT is just as good at playing the game but needs to have higher internal creative standards when choosing which horse to back.
    And saatchi has neither the creative originality or the actual client on roster .
    As a client, I have a fairer idea who I’d invite for my next pitch.
    And who I’d give a miss.

    Thanks Mumbrella, that’s a couple less RFIs I have to send out and read.

  173. Alex Hayes
    17 Jul 14
    8:14 am

  174. Hi @Alex,

    We’ve never said these ads were ineligible for Cannes, in fact, the point is they do met the bare minimum criteria to legitimately enter the awards shows.

    The real question as has been pointed out, is whether those standards are enough for an advertising festival, rather than an art show.

    AS for diving in football – that’s definitely cheating, but if it’s your team which benefits you’ll probably have a different POV.


    Alex – editor, Mumbrella

  175. Where do we draw the line?
    17 Jul 14
    8:54 pm

  176. @ Alex Hayes, what about the LeoBurnett WWF ad that won a silver Lion. Didn’t than one just run once in Time magazine? Is that in your view a legitimate entry? I guess Time magazine is slightly more expensive than the Rouse Hill Observer or whatever it’s called, but where do you draw the line here? Is an ad legit because the media was more expensive?

  177. Losers
    18 Jul 14
    12:21 pm

  178. At the end of the day, my biggest concern is how much effort mumbrella makes to find out of it’s scam or not. Has the adland run out of proper news that are worth covering that we now have to rely on the “investigations” of these self-proclaimed detectives?
    And by the way… Who the heck are mumbrella? They don’t seem to be very legit either….

  179. Hey client
    18 Jul 14
    1:43 pm

  180. DDB should not get a ‘pass’ for this.

    It clearly states that ‘ads created and ran once in small publications for the purposes of winning an award’ are not allowed.

    So how does this get a pass?

  181. willy loman
    22 Jul 14
    3:52 pm

  182. Losers.

    Who the heck are mumbrella? Looks like they are a newsletter or site you read and take time out of your busy day to write to… doh !