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Ban scam agencies from awards shows like sport bans doping stars – says Sir John Hegarty

Agencies involved in creating scam work should be banned from advertising awards shows in the same way that professional athletes are prevented from participating in sporting competitions when they have been caught taking drugs, adland legend Sir John Hegarty has told Mumbrella.

Putting scam on a par with doping, the BBH co-founder said: “Scam is my bête noire. I think it’s a tragedy and I liken it to drugs in sports. If we don’t kick this habit, we will undermine the awards that we have.

“Shows have got to be more proactive in how they weed out scam and how they penalise those that create it. They should say to agencies, if you do that [scam] you will not be able to enter for the next three years.”

Asked if the volume of scam work was dropping off due to awards shows tightening up entry criteria and judging processes following a number of high-profile scandals that exposed fake work in recent years, he replied: “No, it’s still the same. What are we doing? It’s making a laughing stock of the industry.

“Just ban them. But they won’t do that because it’s a money-making machine. They are killing our industry and killing creativity. The Tour de France had to come down very heavily on drug cheats and we have got to do the same. We need to view scam like it is a drug.

“The way our industry will get better is when better people do better work and better clients see it so that they say ‘wow, why don’t I have a bit of that – it really did work’.”

Pointing to the revival of television, which had been written off by many as a dead medium, as proof that an industry could reinvent itself – Hegarty said: “Television has been revived because it invested in better writing and better directors.

“That’s what we need to do in our industry. But if, instead, we are doing scam that nobody sees then it is doing nothing to help us.

“The television industry has moved forward because people have seen great programming and gone ‘god, I could do that’. So that’s why I get on my high horse about this issue.”

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