The curious case of Saatchi & Saatchi’s prize winning ad for an out-of-business local printer

Last week saw the US-based One Show Design awards.

There weren’t many Australian winners. Indeed, Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney was the only agency to pick up two pencils.

But what is curious is their gold client – a local printer that seems to no longer be in business.  

It was a leaflet for a company called Chippendale Printers.


As one commenter put on Campaign Brief’s coverage last week: “Wow. That’s a client we all wanted. And a leaflet too?”

However, the leaflet is the kind of thing that may well amuse a creative awards jury with its post-modern analysis of typical promotional leaflets for printers. I suspect it might not trouble an effectiveness jury though.

It asks: “Is it just me or are sales brochures for printers really boring?”

It then satirises brochures’ propensity to feature images of printing presses before – and this is the touch the jury (if not your average print client) really will have loved – taking the mickey out of logos.

It’s hard to tell you too much about Chippendale Printers. The nearest I can find  is a company called Chippendale Printing.

By the looks of its website, the company has closed down. It’s reported to have gone into administration last month. Which certainly doesn’t do much for the work’s effectiveness credentials.

But let’s assume that this is not a scam ad. (The One Show has taken a hard line stance against scam ads this year, defining them as “ads created for nonexistent clients or made and run without a client’s approval, or ads created expressly for award shows”. The penalty for those who transgress is to be banned from entering for five years.)

But when something like this is the best Australia can apparently do, it does make me wonder what is the point of having international award competitions.

Even if this is technically within the rules – let’s assume that the client did indeed okay it – it’s hard to believe that this was a piece of business won in the usual way.

One suspects that the printer didn’t call a pitch and invite Australia’s best agencies to tender for the large budgets at stake before Saatchi & Saatchi battled through on its superior strategic and creative firepower and cracked the brief.

But this may well technically be within the rules of entry. It wouldn’t be astonishing to think that an ad agency and a local printers would already have a business relationship. And they might perhaps offer them the leaflet as bit of contra. So long as the “client” signed it off, then I guess it’s kosher for the award.

But where this gets depressing is that long after the detail of this award is forgotten, the agency will have this score on the board.

That becomes important when the various international and local rankings are tallied up.

Saatchi & Saatchi will now score better than other agencies that were perhaps busier working on bigger, more lucrative clients who might be somewhat more demanding in approving creative. I can think of recent examples of ECDs departing agencies in frustration at not getting their best work past big clients.

But the award achieves little as a barometer of advertising creativity on behalf of big clients with tough campaign objectives.

Indeed, my criticism probably applies more to what awards measure than it does to the agencies that find a way of winning.

So well done Saatchis on the gold pencil. It would be nice to see the same thing for some big clients though.

Tim Burrowes


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