Hegarty: Asia will never be a dominant force in advertising if it doesn’t cut out scam

“There have been no statements from agencies that they won’t do it.”

Advertising legend John Hegarty has hit out at the “endemic” level of scam advertising in Asia.

In an interview with Mumbrella at the Cannes Lions festival today, the Bartle Bogle Hegarty founder and creative chief said that there was no signs that scam – the practice of ad agencies creating work purely to win awards – was diminishing in the region.

“There have been no statements from agencies that they won’t do it,” he said.

Client are in on the act too, Hegarty said.

“They’re trying to beat each other in the rankings to take awards home. It’s a disgrace.”

“If you focus on scam – which a lot of agencies do in Asia – you’ll always lack proof that creative work actually works.”

“You can con yourself by calling it ‘proactive’ work. But that’s just another word for scam.”

“We’re proactive every day by trying to solve client’s problems, not pretending we can produce pretty ads that never run anywhere.”

“If Asia is to become dominant force in advertising, it must kick this habit,” said Hegarty.

Scam is not difficult to spot, he added.

“Just look out for the beautiful piece of art, with a tiny logo in the bottom corner.”

Comments


  1. Marco
    20 Jun 13
    10:25 am

  2. Scam is not difficult to spot, he added.
    “Just look out for the beautiful piece of art, with a tiny logo in the bottom corner.”

    Then why are we still awarding it? If we continue to award it, creatives are just going to continue to produce it.

    I can imagine a creative thinking like this: if I get all righteous and stop with my “proactive” drive and someone else continues with it and gets the lions, who do you think is going to get the pay raise and the promotion?

    The problem is not scam advertising. It’s the people who encourage it by awarding those ads you say are not difficult to spot.

  3. Jules
    20 Jun 13
    11:41 am

  4. The awards shows will still continue to award scams… theres a whole lot of money to be made from entry fees.

  5. Ad
    20 Jun 13
    11:34 pm

  6. The judges in these awards shows are usually people who were ‘well-awarded’. Of course they would award the same kind of work no? It would be pure hypocrisy not to!

  7. Unemployed
    21 Jun 13
    2:05 am

  8. I agree COMPLETELY with John Hegarty and Marco.

    I’ve been threatened often by various ex-bosses who got to where they are today doing scams. To not do likewise, as I have, is to risk losing one’s livelihood. That’s how bad it is.

    It’s NOT difficult at all to see the proof. Just take your pick of any CCO, ECD, GCD, SCD, and the many CDs in any agency in the region (especially the MNCs), and you’ll NOT find a handful who hasn’t done scam ads.

    The asian awards juries keep awarding these scams because they do it themselves. And they get to keep their jobs by encouraging their agencies to do the same. Hell, they even get promoted. So, they’ll ONLY employ scam artistes. They’ll never admit it, of course. And the NEW juries? Why, they’re the scam artistes who’ve won with the scams and get invited back to be a juror, of course!

    In the end, the scam CDs beget more art directors and copywriters to work on scams. Monthly “creative” meetings, weekly “creative” meetings… especially leading up to the awards submission deadlines. Heck, they even do statistical studies and comparisons year on year to understand what the next award jury will reward. They’ll even plot between the categories to enter… just so they’ll cover all the bases.

    So, creatives hungry for the next promotion and pay rise think ONLY of scams. A simple comparison between their disinterested daily works versus their off the wall award-winning “Public Service” ads will reveal all that everyone refuses to see. Recently, some have begun to call themselves “artists”… for entering “artistic” works into the award shows. No client, no commission. They just pay for their display, get this written and photographed, uploaded somewhere and behold, it’s ready for submission.

    And Cannes, Clios, D&AD, One Show, etc. continue to bestow awards to scams every year. The effectiveness and “results” of these fake ads… the number of hits, the percentages, the media stories and free publicity… remains to be proven. Trust me, I just tried to search keywords of one of this year’s Cannes winners. And found zip. No video, no news report, no blog, no website, nada…

    Creatives with hundreds of awards. BIG titles. BIG salaries. Now, what are the real paying clients getting?

  9. dominic braganza
    21 Jun 13
    6:04 pm

  10. Jen
    22 Jun 13
    10:12 pm

  11. The ad world will be/ is segmented into two – one that does work for fame and glory, and the other that does the everyday client work while trying to push the boundaries each time. Unfortunately, it’s the former group that gets rewarded. A vicious cycle indeed.

  12. hey-hey-hey
    24 Jun 13
    1:13 am

  13. Here’s an idea!

    Get ALL the Award Festivals to REMOVE individual names of the creatives and just reflect the names of the agencies, the clients and their marketing teams.

    This ought to set things right once and for all.

    Why not? Agencies, not individuals are paying for these entries and they should rightfully get the credits. And if the agencies (who pay the creatives) are TRULY doing outstanding work for the clients, the clients who bought these fantastic ideas OUGHT to be the ones who deserve the trophies. It’ll certainly beget more clients interested to buy better creative work, so everyone wins!

    Everyone, except the creatives who move from agency to agency, who scam ads and belittle daily work, of course. Why? Because EGO dictates that whoever comes up with the brilliant idea should be celebrated. But hang on, isn’t EVERYONE with the creative job, paid every month… SUPPOSED to be creating brilliant ads in the first place?

    If the advertising world truly cares for creative work for clients and brands. The entry lists and forms ought to bear more brand names, client names and agency offices, NOT the names of these creative department individuals. Just look at an Awards entry form, and you’ll see the problem. Dozens of agency staff names, with just 1 agency name, 1 brand name, and 1 client name. There’s your misappropriation!

    Creatives ought to service the agencies, who in turn serve the clients and their brands. That’s what advertising is about.

    It is NOT about servicing creative individuals.

  14. Oji
    25 Jun 13
    10:16 pm

  15. Asia is Asia. Meaning Asian CLIENTS. Despite that, Asia still wins in the award shows because we’re as good as every creative elsewhere. BUT what’s stopping us being a dominant force opposite (Europe, North America, Aus, NZ) is the 1. Clients 2. THE REGION – and YOU are one of them. Asia is a cash cow for global agencies so most turn a blind eye when regional accounts like Unilever, P&G, Ford etc. opt for REGIONAL ABOVE THE LINE – that mostly come from mother agencies. You turn a blind eye while clients bully us while the local agency – for the sake of money will do whatever the client wants. Money – money that keeps the agencies afloat – money that keeps you the MOTHER AGENCIES outside Asia to keep doing what you do – Ads that aren’t scam.

    So much as I respect you for your creative brilliance Sir John Hegarty, I urge you, open your eyes and snap out of it.

  16. Cezar
    26 Jun 13
    9:21 pm

  17. In Asia, it’s so hard to get legitimate ‘creative’ work approved by legitimate clients forcing lazy creatives to scam to prove their ‘brilliance’.

    It doesn’t help that award-giving shows accept, and reward, their ‘work’.

    To stop all the masquerading, and be fair to those who do not do scam and who, understandably, are at a disadvantage against their unfettered counterparts, awards shows should consider opening a SCAM category — a showcase of initiatives strictly for show.

    That should give creatives a vent to let off creative steam, so to speak, and hopefully inspire clients to buy their ideas.

    At the same time, we should provide more incentives to ‘real’ creative work which is the essence of true advertising.

  18. Guilty
    30 Apr 14
    3:40 pm

  19. Even Mr Hegarty does not mention the role of the multi-nats themselves in this.

    From where I am sitting, the orders to scam come right from the top: worldwide ECD level and above, who demand wins at Cannes in particular. Or else. There are now a whole generation of ECDs who got their jobs by scamming. And the big-wigs who appointed them do not care where the awards comes from either. They just want the glory.

    They don’t mention the word ‘scam’, but they make it clear you are expected to score at Cannes, and that they do not care how you do it. Of course, if you are caught, they will – MI style – disavow all knowledge of your activities.

    I am not innocent in this by the way. I am not proud, but it is an ‘if you can’t beat them’ situation and I have a family, a mortgage, and some brutal school fees to feed. I’d much rather not spend several creatives’ salaries on award entries, and not do months of late nights leading up to awards season, but my choice is either do it or find another job.

    Mr Hegarty himself may be above all this, but BBH is part of one of the two groups which control the advertising world and he has a great deal more influence with the powers-that-be than I do. Can I ask what he is doing about scams?

    And can someone remind me how you get a job at BBH in Asia? Oh yes, I remember now. Win lots of awards.

  20. Samrat DasGupta
    22 Jun 15
    11:42 am

  21. If Asia stops scam ads, European Award Shows are going to become irrelevant! The reason Asia does scam ads is because there is a certain kind of work that Europe awards. The Gold Standard is definitely European (or American). And the European network agency bosses are telling all their people in Europe, Asia, Antarctica to gun for the Gunn Report. With all the Chief Creative Officers sitting in Europe, “the beautiful piece of art, with a tiny logo in the bottom corner” is not going to get edged out.

  22. ankit garg
    23 Jun 15
    8:33 am

  23. HEGARTY SIR,

    WHAT U ARE SAYING IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE. BUT THERE IS NO RUNNING AWAY FROM THE ‘PROACTIVE’ IF ONE WANTS TO BE KNOWN AND WELL PAID IN INDIAN CONTEXT. THE FIRST THING THEY ASK IS…’HOW MANY METALS’. VERY FEW PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW HOW GOOD U R T CRACKING REAL TIME SOLUTIONS. AND IF I WANT TO WORK OVERSEAS, ITS UNTHINKABLE TO GET THROUGH. SO HERE IS AN IDEA. MAY BE, IF AGENCIES IN WEST, HIRE SOME PEOPLE FROM HERE ABSOLUTELY ON BASIS OF REAL WORK WHICH SHOWS THEY HAVE A GREAT UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM AND CAN THINK ABOUT IT. PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO METALS BUT CAN THINK BEYOND THE NICE ART N SMALL LOGO. MAY BEM THAT WILL HELP PEOPLE LOOK UPTO THEIR REAL WORK WITH MORE INTEGRITY.

  24. What is your good name?
    23 Jun 15
    1:40 pm

  25. ‘HOW MANY METALS’ ?

    Looks like they can’t even speak proper english so I would get up and walk out of such an interview, Ankit.

    Second, I don’t know why you would want to work overseas when Indian advertising has access to such great brands and opportunities.

    Third….you sound like one of those delusional cretins who think that scam ads can be creative but real ads cannot….if so, may I say that you and others like you are a total disgrace to our profession and you should leave before you cause any more damage to yourself or any real briefs entrusted to you.

    Fourth, I don’t think ‘Hegarty Sir’ gives a flying fuck what you think.

  26. ANKIT GARG
    23 Jun 15
    2:21 pm

  27. WHOEVER YOU ARE…MR., GOOD NAME??,

    I THINK U SHOULD FIRST MIND YOUR TONE BECAUSE BEING RUDE DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN U R RIGHT. IT JUST SHOWS YOU ARE SO SHALLOW AND UNBALANCED.

    SECONDLY, COMMENTING ON MY ENGLISH OR MY CREATIVE ABILITIES OR HOW I WORK ON MY BRIEFS.. IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS…. FOR A SIMPLE FACT THAT YOU DONT KNOW ME. WHAT I EXPRESSED WAS MY POINT OF VIEW ON THINGS AROUND AND YOU CAN CHOOSE TO DISAGREE. BUT YOU ARE NOT GOD ALMIGHTY’S ANSWER TO CREATIVITY TO BE JUDGEMENTAL ABOUT OTHERS.

    WHEN I MENTIONED ABOUT OVERSEAS OPPORTUNITY, IT WAS IN CONTEXT OF THE WORK CULTURE AND HOW CREATIVE AGENCY IS LOOKED UPON AS A SOLUTIONS PARTNER BY LARGE, COMPARED TO HOW CLIENTS TEND TO GET UNREASONABLE HERE. ANY FOOL WILL UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT ABOUT BRANDS, COZ IN A GLOBAL MARKET, WHERE ALL BRANDS ARE EVERYWHERE, U CAN GET TO WORK ON EVERYTHING IN YOUR COUNTRY.

    WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO DECIDE OR EVEN KNOW IF I HAVE A DELUSION ABT MY JOB. I DONT NEED TO VALIDATE OR PROVE TO AN IDIOT LIKE YOU, WHO CANT EVEN WRITE HIS REAL NAME.

    BY CALLING OTHERS AS ‘DISGRACE’ FOR NO RHYME OR REASON, I THINK U R TELLING WHAT KIND OF A PERSON YOU ARE. THIS FORUM IS ABT DISCUSSING ADVERTISING, BUT YOU HAVE A TALENT TO TAKE IT SOMEWHERE ELSE.

    LASTLY, ITS AMUSING WHY YOU MUST HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME CALLING ANYONE RESPECTFULLY AS ‘SIR’. OH…YOU DONT LIKE RESPECTING PEOPLE I GUESS.

  28. Jesus Christ
    23 Jun 15
    6:44 pm

  29. By this logic F1 should be banned. Because nobody drives those cars every day. It still excites people because its plainly about pushing the limits. Year on year. So here its just about the idea, the craft. For effectivess there are other award platforms. Or even at cannes there’s effectiveness category. Lets not kill each other. Its just advertising.

  30. Pissed off creative
    23 Jun 15
    10:57 pm

  31. No offense to clients. But why arent they getting any blame for the state of advertising in asia? Look at all the crap that they’re asking agencies to do. I don’t find it surprising that all that creativity has to go somewhere. If I were doing shitty ads day in, day out for a shitty client, to be honest, my only shot at glory would be at cannes. And if people are comfortable with doing ‘real work’, then so be it. Just bear in mind that some of us have the ideas. we want to push further. And with clients in asia so averse to good work, who can blame the scam?

  32. Hey Jesus
    24 Jun 15
    7:48 am

  33. This stupid F1 analogy has been debunked countless times….while brands like Ferrari and Mercedes do enter cars that push the limits into F1, it is common knowledge that they make a damn fine product for day to day use.

    The ad agencies that enter scam into awards make a rubbish day to day product….if you really need to see proof of this, then you are really more far gone than I thought.

    At then end of the day, clients want effective work….we are the ones who tell them that creative work is more effective because it gathers greater impact with lesser media exposure. Creative must be effective but effective doesn’t always have to be creative.

    Now run along, your school bus is here.

  34. Michael
    24 Jun 15
    1:11 pm

  35. @pissedoff
    Maybe it is more that clients have realised that some one-joke visual pun (see pretty much all the Cannes Press winners) is of no value to their business, so are demanding more.

    If anything scam is making it even worse. Clients look at some of the garbage that is winning (and it is not all garbage, of course) and think: is this all they can offer me? Another witty response for a carpet cleaner? Where is the insight into our audience? The understanding of our business challenges?

    I have said it before. Watch as the industry eats itself and media, PR and digital agencies jump in to sweep up the crumbs.

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