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DDB’s Amir Kassaei: I’m not against scam, as long as majority of agency’s work is genuine

Amir Kassaei talking at Mumbrella360 this morning

Amir Kassaei talking at Mumbrella360 this morning

The global creative chief officer of ad agency DDB, Amir Kassaei, said today he is not against scam – work created purely to win awards – as long as the majority of an agency’s output is genuine.

“It is our responsibility to look for ideas that might not be realistic at the moment. But the majority of the work should be solving real problems with genuine ideas,” he said.

At Cannes, there are winners with real work, but the majority of winners are not real, he said.

Problems arise when agencies seek fame purely off the back of “prototypes”, he said. This gives clients a false impression of the agency and the industry as a whole.

He likened adland’s relationship with awards to the car industry.

“If a car company is amazing only at producing prototypes, they will not be taken seriously. I’m not an enemy of prototyping, but you have to get the balance right.”

Kassaei said that he did not think, as has been suggested, that a new awards show should be set up that focuses solely on prototype or scam work.

“That would send the wrong signal,” he said.

“A big problem with awards is that people are not judging ideas, they’re judging the quality of case study videos – the packaging of an idea.”

“It would be great if we get to the point where we judge ideas purely as ideas, not as disciplines [such as print, film or direct]. But for awards organisers, this makes no economic sense.”

Kassaei finished his presentation with a case study video for StarHub by DDB Singapore, which has been widely recognised at awards shows.

Kassaei courted controversy at Cannes in 2012 when he accused rivals – indirectly referring to WPP – of vote rigging and threatened to pull DDB out of the awards show if the activity did not stop.

“I became enemy number one of Martin Sorrell,” Kassaei said at Mumbrella360 today. “But I take that as a compliment.”

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