Comms Council CEO urges agencies dealing with illegitimacy claims to be transparent



Agencies dealing with claims of illegitimacy around campaigns entered into awards should be transparent about them, Communications Council CEO Margaret Zabel has told Mumbrella.

In response to questions about the industry body’s guidance on scam advertising Zabel said: “In terms of dealing with claims of illegitimacy, obviously transparency is helpful in these cases. Reputation is very important, but there are also sometimes confidentiality restrictions around the release of certain details. It’s up to the agency and the client to discuss and agree on the best and most transparent way of responding.”

Her comments come after questions arose some ads entered by Australian agencies in this year’s Cannes Lions competition coming under scrutiny, which included Saatchi & Saatchi’s Silver Lion winning work for Panasonic and DDB’s Bronze winning McDonald’s executions, with those agencies and clients refusing to reveal where the work had run.

A subsequent investigation by Mumbrella discovered the DDB McDonald’s work ran in News Corp title The Rouse Hill Times, although searches by two media monitoring companies have not uncovered where the Saatchi & Saatchi Panasonic ads ran.

McDonald's Cannes Lion award-winning press campaign as it appeared in The Rouse Hill Times

McDonald’s Cannes Lion award-winning press campaign as it appeared in The Rouse Hill Times

However, JWT was able to confirm to Mumbrella details around media placement for their campaigns for Band-Aid and Banlice, while photography company Freeway was also willing to confirm details regarding its Inxpress campaign.

The issue of scam is a growing one for the advertising industry, with claims that some work is created to win awards, rather than solve a clients’ marketing problems. A hallmark of scam advertising is when work for a major brand appears only once, in a low cost publication, close to an entry deadline.

In response to questions around the spirit the Comms Council expects agencies to enter awards with Zabel said: “The different advertising awards exist to celebrate outstanding creativity and effectiveness in marketing communications.  The context is commercial creativity and hence the creative ideas and executions are founded on addressing business problems or objectives.

“They usually originate from a specific client brief but may also be driven by innovation briefs or agency initiative.  As a guiding principle, they should be entered in the spirit of the award entry criteria and be something that the agency and client are both proud of and that meets business objectives.

One of the Saatchi & Saatchi award-winning ads

One of the Saatchi & Saatchi award-winning ads

“In terms of guidance, all of our members are signatory to the Code of Ethics, which states members must compete fairly and be honest in what they do. As mentioned before, entering awards in the spirit of celebrating commercial creativity and ensuring adherence to the entry criteria is key. ”

The Code of Ethics point that best applies to the issue of ‘scam’ is its eighth point, which states: “Compete fairly. Be honest in commenting on competitors and our industry. No dirty tricks in new business. No misrepresentation of the capabilities of your business.”

Miranda Ward


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