Ad awards scam ‘not a victimless crime’ says Philips marketer

Winston PhuaA senior advertiser attending the Cannes Lions festival has said that the practice of winning awards with fake work is “not a victimless crime” as it pushes out genuine craft for clients and the hard work of honest creatives.

Talking to Mumbrella from the South of France, Winston Phua, head of brand, communications and digital for Philips ASEAN and Pacific, said: “I think there is often the perception that it [scam] is victimless crime. But I do not think that is true.”

The practice disadvantages the “people who create good work for brands, and tell stories in an honest and fair way,” he said, adding that he would never sign-off any scam work from an agency.

“I am against it. Any agency that comes to us with a proposal [to do scam work] I would say ‘no’ – there are no two ways about it,” Phua noted.

The former Apple and Procter & Gamble marketer’s comments come a few days after it emerged that a Cannes Lions-winning app billed as a new way to save refugees stranded in the Mediterranean was a fake, and was removed from Apple’s app store and denounced by the client. Both the agency, Grey Singapore, and Cannes Lions, have remained silent on the matter so far and the awards still stand.

Phua, who moved from China to Singapore to take on the Asean role at Philips six months ago, was in Cannes to give a presentation with his ad agency Iris about how client and agency collaborate on content marketing through Pulse, a rebranded version of the Conversation Engine, a digital command centre launched in Singapore by Phua’s predecessor, Damien Cummings.

Phua said that as a marketer he had gained valuable insights from the seminars at Cannes, particularly those delivered by Google and other tech firms. But he had a word of warning against using technology for technology’s sake.

“My view is that we should embrace new technology, and we should see what opportunities open up [from using new tech]. But we also have to stand back and check ourselves,” he said.

Philips #SGHaze work

Philips #SGHaze work

“We need to see what value it [technology] can truly have for the brand, and what it can truly have for the consumer.”

Philips has launched a series of content-led initiatives in recent months in Southeast Asia, the most recent being the #Insicknessandhealth campaign in Singapore, which was a product of PULSE, as was the electronics brand’s topical marketing around the haze last year.


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

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



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