It’s that time of the year again when everyone nudges everyone else and goes, “It’s that time of the year again.” December is here, guys, and while to some people it means Christmas shopping and goodwill and cheer, to us ad folks it merely means booking space in The Free Press Journal. Seriously, that newspaper must make its annual advertising revenue in a single month thanks to the lot of us.
Which brings us, of course, to the whole issue of scam ads.
I think scam ads are a concept unique to our industry. Think about it. Architects don’t design mock buildings to win awards. Doctors don’t cure fake illnesses. Lawyers don’t… no, let’s not go there. But honestly, I can’t think of any other field where people churn out a piece of work for the sole purpose of winning awards for it. Documentary or art filmmakers perhaps, but those guys don’t count, they’re a little nuts anyway.
The thing is ‘nobody else does it, then why should I’ has never worked as an excuse, has it? It didn’t work when you tried to tell your mum why you shouldn’t wear the aunty-type skirt (or uncle-type shirt) she bought you and it isn’t going to work now.
We all know the argument. You shouldn’t make ads your clients wouldn’t ordinarily release. You shouldn’t make ads for clients you don’t even have. You shouldn’t put your own money or the agency’s money into producing and releasing said ads. And you certainly shouldn’t do it for a shiny little award, because that’s just plain wrong.
The thing is, we all know the counter-argument too. If all the good brands willing to take risks on bold ideas for their everyday advertising are in the coffers of a few good agencies, what are the rest of us supposed to do? Turn in our pencils, shut off our creativity and do offer ads all our lives?
It’s a stalemate, that’s what it is. The fact of the matter is we can try to get good creative campaigns released, but if the client doesn’t want to put money on them, what are you going to do about it? No, I want to ask everyone who slams scam ads this question: if I don’t have the kind of client that says, “Jaa, Simran, jee le apni zindagi,” does it mean I don’t deserve an award even if my campaign is fantastic?
Besides, all advertising awards we stress for in December are awards for CREATIVE excellence. They judge how CREATIVE your campaign is, not whether you were able to convince the client to release it and pay for it. That’s what the Effies are for.
But all this pales in comparison to the greatest truth in the industry today: whether you get a job, what designation you are offered, how much salary you can demand, it’s all related to how many awards you’ve won. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
And till this state of affairs continues, you can bet good money that there will be a healthy amount of scam campaigns every award season. Whether we like it or not.
(This was my December blog post for Campaign India.)