The persistent problem of scam ads at award shows is damaging client trust, distorting the industry and undermining creativity, says Sir John Hegarty, Chairman of Little Black Book. That’s why he has proposed a ‘scam ban’ for the Immortal Awards. Under the rule, any agency found to have entered phony work will be barred from entering for three years.
“My analogy is always the same; it’s like drugs in sport. And the sad thing is, like the Tour de France, people don’t really trust it any more. So, it doesn’t have the value that it once had,” he says. “For me, The Immortals has a chance to rise above that and make a stand and say we will not tolerate it.”
Agencies’ desire to top award show rankings to impress number-crunchers is having a distorting and damaging effect on the advertising industry and clients’ trust – proving Goodheart’s law: when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
Pointing out that certain Chief Creative Officers have been known to brief their networks to create fake work, Sir John said that such scam undermined the purpose of award shows, which is to celebrate work that has made a real impact and to show clients what really is possible with the power of creativity.
“We are not here to celebrate winning an award, we are here to celebrate impact. We’re here to celebrate progress, we’re here to celebrate a conversation with our audience and public and in that way, we make advertising a part of culture as opposed to an irrelevant voice in the wilderness, which is what I think it has become.”
Reflecting on examples of scam that he had observed, he noted that the phenomenon was not something he observed in the ‘70s and ‘80s, was getting worse and was a waste of jurors’ time.
As a new award show that’s disrupting old ways of working, the Immortal Awards are in a unique position to be able to build anti-scam measures into the design of the award. The cap in entries per member also means that the manageable shortlist can and will be pre-screened before reaching the live judging.
“The purpose of the scheme is to reignite people’s belief in awards as being a way of demonstrating to clients how creativity really can impact on their business and it has to be real to do that," says John. "There’s no point in it being fake.”
Find out more about the Immortal Awards here.
The Immortal Manifesto
The Immortal Awards were conceived to celebrate great creative work that has had a meaningful impact on its audience. It will champion the teams, creators and clients who have fought to deploy creativity to its fullest effect. We believe that creativity is the key to work that, well, works – but we know that those great ideas face many obstacles on their perilous journey to reach their audience.
That’s why those with the courage to protect and push, nurture and defend great creative should be recognised and shared as an inspiration to the whole industry. In an age of forgettable spam, let’s appreciate the clever and crafted work that connects and resonates with the people it touches. In other words, let’s celebrate that work that will live forever in the memories of its audience and leaves a lasting impression on the brand that commissions it. The Immortal.
The Rules Regarding Scam Entries
Work entered and shortlisted ahead of live judging will be screened by organisers to the best of our ability. Work that evades detection during this process and receives a trophy but is later found to have contravened the above rules will be stripped of the award.
Any entrant company found to have entered explicitly fake work – that is work that has been created for a fake client or work that has either never been run or has been run without the approval of clients – will receive a three-year ban on entering The Immortal Awards.
Any entrant company found by the organisers and jurors to contravene the spirit of the Immortal Awards, for example, by misleading organisers and jurors as to the veracity of their case or the nature of their involvement in a project, will receive a ban of up to three years.