News

Cannes defends grand prix winner against claims of ‘bullshit’ from Singapore creative who says agency falsely claimed credit

The lucky iron fish

The lucky iron fish

Objections made by a Singapore-based creative to the legitimacy of a Cannes grand prix winner he says repurposed an idea to curb anaemia in Cambodia to win an award have been rebuffed by the festival organisers.

The co-founders of Singapore creative agency Arcade, Gary Tranter and Matt Cullen, were listed on the credits of Geometry Dubai’s Luck Iron Fish Project entry, which was awarded the grand prix in the Production Design Lions for a fish-shaped piece of iron for use in Cambodian cooking pots to curb anaemia in iron-deficient rural communities.

Tranter said in a statement that he had nothing to do with the entry. Geometry Dubai had used footage Tranter had shot of the Iron Fish Project for an ad for his client Google after assuring him that his work would be used for PR purposes to raise awareness of the cause, he said.

The product that won the grand prix, the agency had falsely passed off as it own creation, he suggested.

“The video implies the agency Geometry spotted a need, came up with the Iron Fish idea and somehow designed the little fish. Bullshit,” he wrote.

Tranter said that he had worked closely with the product designer of the Lucky Iron Fish, Chris Charles, while in Cambodia, and had not encountered anyone from the agency that submitted the case video for the Cannes Lions.

“In the whole time I was there, I saw no one from Geometry Dubai’s Product Design Department, beavering away to help the people of Cambodia,” he said.

In a statement issued today, Cannes Lions said that it had investigated Tranter’s claim, and had received written confirmation from Charles and the president and CEO of the Lucky Iron Fish company, Gavin Armstrong, that they had worked in “close partnership” with Geometry Global on the project.

Armstrong was quoted as saying he gave Geometry Global “approval to be the entrant for all Lucky Iron Fish entries, with full credit to Lucky Iron Fish and other participating entities.”

“There has been no intention to misrepresent the role of Geometry Global or the campaign in the entry or any communications,” he said.

The agency stated that they had been “transparent” about the contributions made by everyone involved in their award entry.

“The product design and prototype were created by Lucky Iron Fish; Geometry Global helped to introduce the product to a wider audience,” the agency stated.

There is no statement from Charles.

“From our perspective, as the organisers of Cannes Lions, this satisfies the requirements of the competition and closes the matter,” the festival organiser said in the statement.

Gary Tranter’s open letter that featured on Campaignbrief reads:

So many people have been asking me about this and even congratulating me for winning at Cannes I felt I had to write something. I did not win at Cannes and my agency had nothing to do with the entry.

When the guys from Geometry Dubai called me, asking if they could use our Iron Fish footage to raise awareness for the Iron Fish project, I expressed reluctance as it’s not normal to release creative work to other agencies, but they assured me it was simply for PR purposes to generate donations.

I agreed. Anything to help this worthwhile project.

I have to say I was surprised to see they won the Product Design Grand Prix at Cannes.

Even more surprised to see they’d used the footage, music and exact words from my script, in their case study video. The video implies the agency Geometry spotted a need, came up with the Iron Fish idea and somehow designed the little fish.

Bullshit.

I spent a long time in Cambodia with Chris Charles, the actual product designer of the Iron Fish (though he’d probably hate me calling him that) shooting a spot for my client Google and in the process learnt much about the amazing work they are doing out there. It’s not just the Iron Fish you know; the ceramic pot water filtration system is simply brilliant and is delivering clean water to many villages.

In the whole time I was there, I saw no one from Geometry Dubai’s Product Design Department, beavering away to help the people of Cambodia.

If winning is at Cannes is part of the PR awareness drive, I’ve got no problem at all with it, but I don’t think you should claim an idea and design when it’s not yours.

If you’re interested, the ad I shot with Matt Cullen, Rebecca So and Chin Chin-Han Yu can be seen here.

Jonathan Finnigan was the Director and the beautiful music was created by Gerard Fitzgerald at Song Zu Singapore.

Gary Tranter
Founder/ECD Arcade

The statement from Cannes:

26 June 2015 – Following reports concerning the validity of this year’s Product Design Grand Prix Winner, “Lucky Iron Fish” from Geometry Global Dubai and Memac Ogilvy MENA, the organisers of Cannes Lions have undertaken further investigation. We have received prompt written confirmation from both Gavin Armstrong, President and CEO of the Lucky Iron Fish company and Dr Christopher Charles, who developed the original prototype, that they worked in close partnership with the agencies concerned. This follows below.

Gavin Armstrong stated:
“Based on my understanding of the entry mechanism at the Cannes Lions festival, we gave Geometry Global approval to be the entrant for all Lucky Iron Fish entries, with full credit to Lucky Iron Fish and other participating entities. There has been no intention to misrepresent the role of Geometry Global or the campaign in the entry or any communications. I was present during the event and received each of the Lions award on stage. I also presented to the Judges for the Innovation award.”

Geometry Global also made the following statement:
“Geometry Global Dubai and Memac Ogilvy MENA are proud to have partnered with the creators of the Lucky Iron Fish product to bring wider exposure and commercial success to this important public health innovation. We have been transparent in our award entries about the contributions of all the players including Gavin Armstrong, CEO of Lucky Iron Fish, Dr. Chris Charles, Director on the Board of Lucky Iron Fish, and all of the supporting agencies. The product design and prototype were created by Lucky Iron Fish; Geometry Global helped to introduce the product to a wider audience.

With the misunderstanding that there could only be a single entrant company across all categories, we entered the Product Design category on behalf of our client and were therefore named ‘entrant company’. Our approach was in full agreement with Lucky Iron Fish company and all partners were credited in the entry. We now understand that Product Design could have been entered directly by Lucky Iron Fish without Geometry Global and Memac Ogilvy as an ‘entrant company.’ Therefore, we have agreed with the Cannes Lions that Lucky Iron Fish should be the sole recipient of the Grand Prix in Product Design, as accepted by CEO Gavin Armstrong during the ceremony in Cannes on Wednesday night. It is an honour to be partners of Lucky Iron Fish, and we are pleased that it has garnered recognition by the Cannes Lions juries. We look forward to being part of the continued success of this project.”

From our perspective, as the organisers of Cannes Lions, this satisfies the requirements of the competition and closes the matter.

ADVERTISEMENT

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing