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Shortlisted Australian Cannes Lions ads ran once, in local parenting mag

An ad created by JWT Sydney for Johnson & Johnson which was shortlisted for this year’s Press Lions in Cannes, ran just once in a free local parenting magazine, Mumbrella’s Australian site has revealed.

Readers had raised questions about JWT’s campaign for J&J’s Banlice which made the shortlist for the Press category in Cannes.

JWT ad

The tip-offs came after Mumbrella revealed yesterday that ads entered into the award show by JWT for J&J’s Band-Aid only appeared in the same edition of The Rouse Hill Times as controversial Bronze winning McDonald’s executions.

The newspaper is understood to be News Local’s cheapest advertising outlet.

JWT today confirmed to Mumbrella the two ads, called “Bridge” and “Cable Car”, ran in free parenting magazine Sydney’s Child, which has an audited circulation of 117,000 and is part of a national network of localised Child magazines, in February. The agency said it also ran as a transit outdoor execution.

A spokesperson for JWT Australia claimed the reason the campaign ran in just one place was that it was “extremely targeted to ensure maximum ROI”.

Based on normal agency and photography costs, it is likely that the cost of producing the ad greatly exceeded the cost of running it in the magazine.

The spokesperson said: “The campaign was developed as a very targeted back to school February campaign, and was only placed in Sydney’s Child Magazine – not national – because of low media spend, and the fact that Sydney is the product’s largest target market due to population. It ran once because it was a ‘back to school’ campaign and it ran in the February ‘back to school’ edition of Sydney’s Child.”

The ads are the fourth set entered by Australian agencies in this year’s Cannes competition to come under scrutiny, with Saatchi & Saatchi’s Silver Lion winning work for PanasonicDDB’s Bronze winning McDonald’s executions and JWT’s Band-Aid work also in the spotlight.

The issue of “scam” ads is a growing one for the advertising industry, with claims that some work is created to win awards, rather than solve clients’ marketing problems. A hallmark of scam advertising is when work for a major brand appears only once, in a low cost publication, close to an entry deadline.

A former scammer in Singapore – one of the region’s most notorious countries for scam – revealed the processes behind scam in an interview with Mumbrella Asia last year.

JWT claims the Banlice executions were in response to a client brief from Johnson & Johnson for the brand. JWT said that it booked the ad directly “due to low media spend”. J&J’s media agency of record is OMD.

At the time of posting, Mumbrella had been unable to confirm what size the ads ran in the magazine, but a half-page advert in Sydney’s Child costs $6,501 including tax according to its rate card.

JWT has also said an ad for Johnson & Johnson worming brand Combantrin which won a Bronze Lion in the inaugural Cannes Health awards this year, ran online with the Google Network and also ran on Seven in Queensland, “due to high product usage in this area”. However, an initial search by media monitoring service Ebiquity which covers all of Australia’s metro TV networks, has not uncovered the ad running.

Johnson & Johnson has refused to comment, referring inquiries from Mumbrella back to JWT.

Meanwhile, Mumbrella’s Australia site has still been unable to find evidence of Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney’s winning campaign for Panasonic in-car air conditioning.

Mumbrella recently held a video hangout on the issue of scam recently featuring the APAC chief creative officer of Sapient Nitro Andy Greenaway and the creative founder of Australian agency The Works Damien Pincus.

Alex Hayes

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