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Questions raised over DDB’s Cannes-winning Selleys work

Selleys Supa Glue ad by DDB SingaporeAn award-winning ad was entered for the Cannes Lions without the client being aware of it, in apparent contravention of the rules.

The DDB Singapore campaign for Selleys Supa Glue was entered in the print and outdoor categories at Cannes last month, and won a bronze Outdoor Lion.

But Felicia Teoh, marketing manager of DGL International, which makes adhesives brand Selleys in Singapore, told Mumbrella that she was unaware that the campaign had been entered in the show. She did not know that the award had been entered or won until told the news by Mumbrella.

The rules for eligibility for Cannes state that the entrant must have written permission from the client to enter their work.

They say: “It is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that the commissioning client has the rights to use the intellectual property of the brand advertised. Entries must not be made without the prior written permission of the client /owner of all rights that subsist in the advertisement. At our request, you shall immediately provide us with a copy of such permission.”

The rules also state that all entries “must have been created within the context of a normal paying contract with a client”.

Teoh told Mumbrella that the agency had approached her about the campaign and asked for no money to produce it.

“We did not pay the agency. They approached us and we agreed that the campaign is for the public good,” she said in an email.

The client did, however, confirm that it had covered media costs for the ads to be run in newspapers, which is essential to avoid disqualification in the Cannes Lions rules against ‘scam’ – work that is created purely to win awards.

The agency says the ad first appeared in print in tabloid newspaper The New Paper on 19 April, and ran on 12-sheet billboards from 25 April at public transport hubs at Tai Seng, Macpherson and Dakota.

The campaign consists of three executions, on close inspection, one features bulls charging at matadors, another shows frogs striking insects with their adhesive tongues and a third depicts moths flying into a light. 

Selley's print ad

The issue of the eligibility of work in awards was raised recently on Mumbrella by the H in BBH John Hegarty in an interview in Cannes. Asked about scam advertising, Hegarty said: “Just look out for a piece of art with a small logo in the corner,” he said.

Selley's print ad

A spokesman for the Cannes Lions told Mumbrella that it would be asking questions of the agency. She said: “We cannot comment until we have spoken to the entrant company.”

July 20 update: A spokesman for the Cannes Lions told Mumbrella: “Following the article, we have investigated the claim and have evidence that the entries in question were eligible to be entered by DDB into Cannes 2013.”

July 25 update: An email from the client Felicia Teoh reads: “I was aware that DDB will entered [sic] the contest.”

However, this email came after Mumbrella had been informed by a DDB spokeswoman that Teoh was “on holiday” at the time of the awards, which is why she was unaware that the campaign had been entered.

The outdoor jury at Cannes this year was led by Y&R’s worldwide chief creative officer Tony Granger. Among the judges was also Farrokh Madon, Y&R Singapore’s CCO, David Guerrero, creative chairman of BBDO Guerrero Philippines, Ean Hwa Huang, ECD of McCann Malaysia and Ben Welsh, ECD of M&C Saatchi Sydney.

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