R/GA founder Bob Greenberg admits if scam work is innovative judges ‘let it pass’



If scam work entered into awards is innovative enough it can be ok for jurors to let it pass because it is showing the way forward, Bob Greenberg, co-founder of R/GA told Mumbrella during a live video hangout.

Greenberg took part in a live video hangout with Mumbrella today  touching on a variety of topics including the future of the industry, the model behind the agency, his views on the future of wearable technology, and his view on award shows and scam advertising.

Greenberg was reflecting on his experiences as a juror at the Cannes Lions, where the Press category has been the subject of a Mumbrella investigation in recent weeks, noting “that the one thing we know about Cannes is that you can’t win without doing a sophisticated, complicated video”.

“Sometimes we even view, oddly enough, that something may not be real, it still may be very innovative and so we sort of give it a break sometimes based on that, not knowing whether or not its completely real and certainly the facts they are stating are questionable, but there’s a lot of innovation.

“If it’s really innovative, and it might have a bed of scam connected to it, we sort of let it pass,” he clarified. “It’s still showing the way forward.”

Responding to a question from social media around digital categories remaining ‘pure’ from scam, Greenberg said it has become more difficult to produce scam digital work.

“In my opinion as a jury president across a number of different categories of Cannes, it used to be that there were more and more scam ads coming in digital than in any other area. They came from Singapore, they came from Brazil, they came from all different spots of the world and we used to look hard at them to see if they were real or not,” he said in response to a question from social media around digital categories remaining ‘pure’ from scam.

“I think what’s changed, and it may not have been noticed in that exact way, is that the digital work has become very integrated and complex so it’s become complicated to create something that is more of a platform in a scammed way. And so, the sort of digital piece fell off because it was a lot easier to do scam ads in broadcast or PR or something else. But I think part of what creates scam ads is the ease in which you can produce them and now digital has become so much more complex to scam.”

When asked about the value he puts on awards Greenberg said they are important as a tool for attracting top talent.

“I think they are very important. I began to think they weren’t so much,” he said. “The biggest thing in the industry right now is talent – and attracting talent and retaining talent comes with awards. So it’s very important from that perspective.

“I think they [awards] have a lot to do with it [attracting talent]  and a lot to do with the tracking and retaining of clients as well,” he added.

Attracting talent is one of the biggest challenges faced by R/GA due to staff churn and “millennials” or Gen Y moving and changing jobs very quickly.

“Giving some praise to recruiting, we have an incredible global recruiting team. We have between 25 and 30 recruiters on staff. Some people don’t realise how big an organisation we have because a lot of millennials change out very quickly and then people are always moving around. We need to seek out the best and the brightest and it’s a constant challenge which requires quite a large organisation,” Greenberg said.

Miranda Ward



  1. Is he for real?
    30 Jul 14
    7:37 pm

  2. This is pathetic. No doubt Bob Greenberg approves of Olympic gold medal winning athletes keeping their medals if they’ve only used an ritzy bitzy amount of illegal drugs. After all, in Bob’s warped world, “it’s still showing the way forward”. [Or could Bob’s idiotic comments just be his very own self -serving Cannes insurance policy with Terry
    in town?].

  3. art or science
    31 Jul 14
    11:15 am

  4. Creative industry needs to decide if is artistic or commercial and accept the consequences accordingly (acclaim or success- rare to have both).

    unacceptable trying to have their cake and eat it (in this case, producing art and pretending they drive commercial outcomes in order to win awards, grow brand and win business)

  5. Andrew
    31 Jul 14
    12:18 pm

  6. World class hairstyle

  7. Lester
    31 Jul 14
    1:48 pm

  8. Bob if they are not paid for they are not ads, they are art.
    Art has a separate set of awards.

  9. Curmudgeon
    1 Aug 14
    9:38 am

  10. I think the ‘attracting talent’ mantra is part of the problem. Like there are these magical amazing beings that can stroll into your agency and suddenly wave their magic wand and all your shit briefs and unimaginative clients will be transformed into amazing work overnight.

    Good work, amazing work comes from just that. Work. Sure some people have ‘it’ and some don’t, but different, amazing, innovative work comes from sweat and teamwork. Maybe if agencies spent more time growing talent, and less time trying to buy or steal it we would see more brilliant work that get’s noticed by consumers and actually sells things rather than just wins an award that no one outside of the industry really cares about. We might even make some of our clients money.

    How many times have you seen a creative team, that have won a bunch of awards, move to a new shop then suddenly 12 months later they aren’t producing any good work anymore?